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Should You Learn Hanja? | What is Hanja?



안녕! KoreanStudyJunkie이라고 해요. Let’s learn about Hanja~


What Is Hanja?


Korean Hanja is another term for the traditional writing system in Korea. It’s generally called Hanja but sometimes called Korean Hanja since other countries like China and Japan use similar writing systems.


The word “Hanja” translates to “Chinese character.” It comprises of mostly Chinese characters. Although the characters themselves derive from the Chinese language, each Hanja character has a Korean Pronunciation.


Hanja was the sole means of writing in Korea. All official documents and written communication are written using Chinese characters. However, this changed when King Sejong the Great created Hangul in the 15th century. Korean Chinese characters have slowly been replaced by Hangul as a means of writing the Korean language.



How many Hanja Characters are there? Do I have to learn all of them?

According to 한한대사전 Han-Han Dae Sajeon, which refers to the Korean Hanja to Hangul dictionary, there are around 53,667 Hanja characters in the Korean language.


There’s no exact number of Hanja characters you must learn if you’re learning the Korean language. However, if you want to recognize Sino-Korean words, 2000 Hanja characters will be a good amount of Hanja.



Are Hanja & Kanji The Same?

Just like the term hanja means hànzì (the Chinese word for Chinese characters), so does the Japanese term kanji. If you wrote any of them as a traditional Chinese character, they would all look like 漢字. In other words, hanja and kanji both mean the Chinese character writing system, with hanja in use in Korea and kanji in Japan.



Do I need to learn Hanja? How important is it to learn It?

Absolutely not. It’s not at all necessary to learn or speak Korean well. However, learning some Hanja characters will help you out a lot when it comes to recognizing lots of words in Korean. Approximately 60% of the Korean language is made up of words of Chinese origin. Therefore you will see hanja all around you when you’re in Korea! You don’t have to learn the chinese character at all, as long as you remember the Korean word it is equivalent to.



List Of Hanja Characters:





Examples Of These Words:

소소하다 = to be trivial, small

중급 = Intermediate (the middle level)

한국인 = Korean person

대부분 = most

여자 = female, woman

남편 = husband

창문 = window

생일 = birthday

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