25 Facts About Hanja


Hanja, alternatively known as Hancha, is the Korean name for a traditional writing system which consists of Chinese characters that has been incorporated and used as early as the Gojoseon period, the first ever Korean kingdom.

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Only a small number of Hanja characters were modified or are unique to Korean, with the rest corresponding to the traditional Chinese characters.

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Hanja were once used to write native Korean words, in a variety of systems collectively known as idu, but by the 20th century Koreans used hanja only for writing words of Chinese origin, while writing native vocabulary and loanwords from other languages in Hangul.

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One way of adapting Hanja to write Korean in such systems was to represent native Korean grammatical particles and other words solely according to their pronunciation.

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Hanja were the sole means of writing Korean until King Sejong the Great invented and promoted Hangul in the 15th century.

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Since June 1949, Hanja have not officially been used in North Korea, and, in addition, most texts are now most commonly written horizontally instead of vertically.

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Nevertheless, a large number of Chinese-borrowed words are still widely used in the North, and Hanja still appear in special contexts, such as recent North Korean dictionaries.

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Each Hanja is composed of one of 214 radicals plus in most cases one or more additional elements.

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Hanja became prominent in use by the elite class between the 3rd and 4th centuries by the Three Kingdoms.

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Since Hanja was primarily used by the elite and scholars, it was hard for others to learn, thus much character development was limited.

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Formal Hanja education begins in grade 7 and continues until graduation from senior high school in grade 12.

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Hanja are often used as a form of shorthand in newspaper headlines, advertisements, and on signs, for example the banner at the funeral for the sailors lost in the sinking of ROKS Cheonan .

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In South Korea, Hanja are used most frequently in ancient literature, legal documents, and scholarly monographs, where they often appear without the equivalent Hangul spelling.

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In mass-circulation books and magazines, Hanja are generally used rarely, and only to gloss words already spelled in Hangul when the meaning is ambiguous.

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Hanja are often used in newspaper headlines as abbreviations or to eliminate ambiguity.

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The Hanja ? appears prominently on packages of Shin Ramyun noodles.

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In modern Korean dictionaries, all entry words of Sino-Korean origin are printed in Hangul and listed in Hangul order, with the Hanja given in parentheses immediately following the entry word.

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Korean personal names, including all Korean surnames and most Korean given names, are based on Hanja and are generally written in it, although some exceptions exist.

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Hanja are still required for certain disciplines in academia, such as Oriental Studies and other disciplines studying Chinese, Japanese or historic Korean literature and culture, since the vast majority of primary source text material are written in Hanzi, Kanji or Hanja.

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Traditional creative arts such as calligraphy and painting, a knowledge of Hanja is needed to write and understand the various scripts and inscriptions, as is the same in China and Japan.

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Hanja terms are expressed through Hangul, the standard script in the Korean language.

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Some Hanja characters have simplified forms that can be seen in casual use.

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Each Hanja character is pronounced as a single syllable, corresponding to a single composite character in Hangul.

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However, in most modern Korean dialects, ? is pronounced as yeo when used in an initial position, due to a systematic elision of initial n when followed by y or i Additionally, sometimes a Hanja-derived word will have altered pronunciation of a character to reflect Korean pronunciation shifts, for example, mogwa "quince" from mokgwa, and moran "Paeonia suffruticosa" from mokdan.

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The name for the Hanja ? is in which is the native Korean pronunciation for "water", while is the Sino-Korean pronunciation of the character.

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