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I learned to read/write hangul from printed text. I was very surprised that the hangul written by my Korean friends looks completely different! There seem to be many shortcuts, lines missing or combined, different parts joined together, etc. Is there a proper or standard way to handwrite hangul?

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    To untrained eyes, Korean cursives are very hard to read. Chinese cursive are near impossible. :D – Phonics The Hedgehog Jun 21 '16 at 22:36
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    This happens in just about every writing system I've taken an interest in. Arabic, Chinese characters, Cyrillic, Georgian, Hebrew, Thai. Just for the Latin script alone it can have pretty different appearances depending on what country the writer was from and what decade it was written in, on top of which language it is. – hippietrail Jun 22 '16 at 7:46
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    Or he could have a bad writing. You know, like the doctors. Unlike English, there's no official 'cursive' form for Hangul. Everyone's got their shortcuts, some are common, some are not. – profitehlolz Jun 22 '16 at 16:28
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There is a standard way of handwriting hangul. All stroke orders follow this guideline:

  • top -> bottom
  • left -> right

Although, in terms of writing a "cursive" hangul, everyone kind of does their own thing. For example, ㄹ might be written in one stroke (squiggly) instead of five segments, something like this. ㅁ and ㅇ sometimes get written confusingly because Koreans may write ㅁ in one stroke instead of four, like this. Feel free to adopt these styles as you see comfortable, but keep in mind that these aren't the "standard" and such adoption of styles aren't unique to Korean.

  • I'm taking a Korean class and usually the teachers writes on the board using "proper" handwriting, which is very easy to read. But sometimes she's in a hurry and uses "cursive" handwriting and it's quite difficult to read! But I've gotten quite used to it, and the more Korean you know, the more you can decipher seemingly-ambiguous handwriting. – Eilon Jun 23 '16 at 4:56
  • I feel the same way. My teacher did the same when I first took a class. She also made a fuss when the TA's didn't obey stroke order, which was funny. But it had led me to some amount of frustration when I tried reading some "ambiguous"-looking Korean writing. However, after some time, you do come to understand the patterns and stroke orders. – blimpy Jun 23 '16 at 10:31
  • It would probably be useful to note in your answer that the "non-standard" forms are nothing special, just cursive forms. Unrelated: I'm a Chinese, and I am used to writing the 口 radical enough that when I write ㅁ I produce exactly the same thing in the picture you linked to :P – busukxuan Jun 23 '16 at 14:17
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    But is there really any other way to write a ㅁ? – Isaac Jun 25 '16 at 2:44
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    Well, ㅁ is supposed to be three strokes.. – Константин Ван Mar 22 '18 at 16:57
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When hangul is handwritten rather flowery it is referred to as 흘림체 or "cursive". Here is an example of a mild 흘림체 vs its typewritten counterpart:

enter image description here

In paraphrase of this article note the following when it comes to handwritten hangul.

Strokes are more important than shape

To read handwritten Korean, one must see the pen/brush strokes, not the final shape. There are always stray markings when handwriting, but they are artifacts of following a very consistent, intentional pattern of writing the shapes.

In the end, rather than focusing on perfect circles or straight lines ...right angles...look only for how the [pen, pencil, or] brush traveled across the page

Step-by-step

You can easily master the order to each symbol as writing always starts in an upper corner and progresses to lower, opposite corner (when working with brush and ink, one would not want their hand/arm in the ink, so the direction is logical).


Violating the order of strokes makes writing illegible.


Here is a diagram showing the stroke order. Use it to try to decode some handwritten Korean.

enter image description here


For more stroke guidance, try this site which will demonstrate each character's order of strokes.


To answer your question, using this proper, standard way to hand write characters is paramount.

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There are also videos about handwritten Hangul and how to write them like a Korean native in a cursive way, check them out. Consonants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p20o661MCcc Vowels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvuhtI2iNmc

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