On Learning Chinese Characters (Hanja)

Why Learn Hanja?

Hanja (漢字, 한자) are the Chinese Characters that are used in Korean. Korean words based on Hanja are called Sino-Korean words (漢字語, 한자어). Sino-Korean words compromise 60-70% of the Korean vocabulary. In contrast, “pure” Korean words compromise only about 25% of the Korean vocabulary and the remainder is from other foreign languages. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that Sino-Korean words generally refer to more complex concepts than pure Korean words. For example, words such as “issuance of new stock” (新株發行, 신주발행) and “appendectomy” (盲腸切除手術, 맹장절제수술) are Sino-Korean words. In contrast, words such as “tree” (나무) and “person” (사람) are pure Korean words. Although it is not used as often in writing as in decades past, most Koreans still think Hanja education is necessary. As such, I highly recommend for anyone wanting to learn Korean at a high level to study some Hanja.

Resources in English
In Print

Resources in Korean


Hanja Dictionaries (玉篇, 옥편)

On Learning Classical Chinese (Hanmun)

Resources in Korean
Explanations of Classical Chinese


Naver Encyclopedia


Resources in English

Korean Publishers

  1. Anno said:

    Wow this is useful. Thank you for putting this up.^^

  2. Pablo said:

    Hey! :)I just commented on another post! Do you think you could add the Hanja Explorer to your list? Check it out and let me know if you think it makes the cut!:)

  3. I feel like I’ve found a soul-mate website. I’ve been on a conceptual journey on my own to revive the traditional curriculum for children from Joseon dynasty. I hope to learn much from you though, since you look like you’re much farther in the journey. Much kudos to you, sir!

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