How is the 'ㅚ' vowel pronounced in Korean?

According to Wikipedia, it seems to be analyzed as /ø/, a monophthong, but to my ears, it sounds like /we/, or a 'ㅗ' followed by a 'ㅔ' sound.

This /ø/ vowel also seems to be rather close to the Korean /e/ and /ɛ/, so is it perhaps the case that I am simply hearing /ø/ as /e/ and the previous consonant is actually labialized?

1 Answer 1


Nowadays, it is almost always pronounced as a diphthong just like 왜, i.e. as /wɛ/. In the past it was often pronounced as the monophthong /ø/ but has almost completely been replaced now by the diphthong pronunciation. You may hear a very old speaker pronounce it /ø/, but I don't think any young speakers still do.

The case of 위 is the same; it used to be pronounced asa monophthong (I think /y/, like the french 'u'), but now is almost always pronounced /wi/.

  • If you want to distinguish them and want to know the accurate pronunciation, listen to what Korean anchorperson says in news. Their pronunciation is slightly different from ordinary people. Standard Korean is based on Seoul dialect, but not all of Seoul dialect is included in standard Korean. Sometimes they have wrong accent and pronunciation.
    – jungyh0218
    Commented Aug 4, 2016 at 14:46

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