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Complex Blocks

Up till now we've been working with simple Hangul blocks with exactly one consonant and one vowel (though the place-holder isn't really a consonant). And as you know, depending on whether the vowel has a long vertical or horizontal line, the Hangul block will be split left-to-right or top-to-bottom:

Horizontal Vertical

Pat'chim (받침)
A Hangul syllable can have a 2nd Consonant after the vowel. This 2nd consonant is known as Pat'chim (받침) and it behaves differently from an initial consonant as you will learn a little later. The Pat'chim is always written below the Initial Consonant and Vowel.

Pat'chim Examples
김, 는, 원, 녕

Examples explained:
  • 김 (kim) - The top is "ki" with "m" at the bottom
  • 는 (neun) - Read from top to bottom this is "n-eu-n"
  • 원 (weon) - Place-holder + "weo" with "n" at the bottom
  • 녕 (nyeong) - Place-holder is actually pronounced "ng" as a Pat'chim
Place-holder as pat'chim
Remember the unpronounced place-holder consonant? Isn't it depressing to just be an unvoiced initial consonant? Well don't worry!! When the place-holder consonant is a Pat'chim it actually has a pronunciation.

ang (앙)

Sounds like: the "ng" in bang.
Transliteration: ng

ang (앙)

So in this example the Initial Consonant is the place-holder consonant and has no sound, but for Pat'chim the place-holder is actually "ng" and pronounced.

Rule 1: Pat'chim swallowing
A consonant pronounced as a Pat'chim is not pronounced the same as a consonant in the initial position. The mouth forms the shape of the final consonant but the final puff of breath that would articulate the sound is swallowed. This makes it very subtle and sometimes inaudible to non-Korean speakers.

For example, say the English word "Cake". Notice how you make a "k" sound at the beginning and at the end? Now say it reeaaaally slowly. BUT when your mouth is is moving from the middle "a" to the final "k" sound stop when your tongue is in place but don't let your breath articulate it.

Still not sure what we're talking about? Here are some examples with the same consonant in the initial and Pat'chim position.

kuk (soup)

mom (body)

pap (rice)

Rule 2: Consonant Shift
The opposite of Pat'chim Swallowing is Pat'chim consonant shift. If the letter after a Pat'chim is a place-holder consonant and a vowel then the Pat'chim consonant takes the place of the place-holder consonant as a full blown Initial Consonant (At least in terms of pronunciation, it is still written as a Pat'chim consonant).

Here is an example:

hanguk (Korea)

Notice how soft the final "k" sound is? Now listen to when there is a vowel in the next sylable:

(Korean Language)

That's right, the final "k" in "kuk" takes the place of the place-holder consonant when actually pronouncing the word.

pronounced 한구거

For more reading practice check out Korean Vocabulary Builder which has complete audio for the 550 most common words as well as 750 quizzes organized by frequency, topic, textbook and Hanja.

Korean Vocabulary Builder