I recently started learning Korean, and soon noticed the existence of Old Hangul, which looked significantly different from what's in other learning materials.

I became curious about the importance of Old Hangul inn modern Korean pop culture. Specifically,

  1. Can Koreans read and write Old Hangul? Is Old Hangul a part of regular education course for the young?
  2. I watched some Korean historical TV shows, and they seem to be a major part of the Korean show biz. How often is Old Hangul used in Korean popular culture (novels, TV shows and films, music, video games)?



2 Answers 2


No, I don't believe old Korean is important for anything other than the study of history and language. We might have a passing curiosity when we encounter it but no more than that, in my opinion.

As for your specific questions:

  1. An average Korean probably can understand parts of old Korean texts, but by no means fully (in addition to obsolete consonants and vowels, a lot of old terms are not understood). The old script itself is not taught in regular schools (but famous literary works are). Only if you are studying it in a university or as part of your job or personal hobby, you'll read such texts.

  2. I think you're referring to the way people speak in period dramas. They use certain amounts of old style language, but it is mostly just speech forms and not old Hangul (Hangul specifically refers to the writing script and not the language itself). The old language they speak in such dramas are one hundred percent compatible with modern Hangul (i.e. they are using phrases fully transcribable in standard Hangul). My belief is that what they speak is not really close to the way people actually spoke hundreds of years ago, because it is very difficult to know how the old language sounded like anyway. And if they somehow reenact the old language very accurately, its strangeness might turn away viewers. The drama people probably concentrate on making it interesting and likable rather than making it accurate.

It is just my thoughts of course, as I don't really know any better than the next person.


With regards to typing Old Hangul, normal Korean input methods do not have the capability of producing the jamo that were used in Old Hangul, e.g. ㅿ, ㆍ, or clusters like ㅼ.

This probably means that many Koreans would not know how to type Old Hangul on a computer, in a similar way as many English speakers would not know how to type accented characters on a computer.


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