Korean language and computers

Korean language and computers

This article addresses how computers are used to read and write Korean, using Hangul.

Character encodings

In , a method known as ISO-2022-KR for a 7-bit encoding of Korean characters in email was described. Where 8 bits are allowed, the EUC-KR encoding is preferred. These two encodings combine US-ASCII (ISO 646) with the Korean standard KS X 1001:1992cite web |url=http://examples.oreilly.com/cjkvinfo/AppL/ksx1001.pdf |title=KS X 1001:1992] (previously named KS C 5601:1987).

The international Unicode standard contains special characters for representing the Korean language in the native Hangul phonetic system. There are two ways supported by Unicode. The way used by Windows is to have every one of the 11,571 syllable combinations as a code and a pre-formed font character. The other way is to encode "jamos", and to let the software combine them into correct combinations, which is not supported in Windows. Of course the former way needs more font memory, but gives the possibility of getting better shapes, since it is complicated to create fully correct combinations which may be preferred when creating documents.

There is also the possibility of simply stacking a (sequence of) medial(s) ("jungseong") – and then a (sequence of) final(s) ("jongseong") and/or a Middle Korean pitch mark, if needed – on top of the (sequence of) initial(s) ("choseong"), if the font has medial and final "jamos" with zero-width spacing that are inserted to the left of the cursor or caret, thus appearing in the right place below or to the right of the initial. If a syllable has a horizontal medial ( _ko. ㅗ, _ko. ㅛ, _ko. ㅜ, _ko. ㅠ or _ko. ㅡ), the initial will probably appear further left in a complete syllable than is the case in pre-formed syllables due to the space that must be reserved for a vertical medial, giving an aesthetically poor appearance to what may be the only way to display Middle Korean Hangul text without resorting to images, romanisation, replacement of obsolete jamo or non-standard encodings. However, most current fonts do not support this.

The Unicode standard also has attempted to create a unified CJK character set that can represent Chinese (Hanzi) as well as the Japanese (Kanji) and Korean (Hanja) derivatives of this script through the Han unification process, which does not discriminate by language nor region for rendering Chinese characters, as long as the different typographic traditions have not resulted in major differences concerning what the character looks like – see "" for examples of characters whose appearance recently underwent only minor changes in Mainland China. Han unification has met with some criticism.

Text input

On a Korean computer keyboard, text is typically entered by simply pushing a key for the appropriate Jamo; the operating system creates each composite character on the fly. Depending on the IME and keyboard layout, double consonants can be entered by holding the shift button. When all jamo making up a syllabic block have been entered, the user may initiate a conversion to Hanja or other special characters using a keyboard shortcut or interface button; South Korean keyboards have a separate key for this. Subsequent semi-automated hanja conversion is supported to varying degrees in word processors.

When using a keyboard from another language, most operating systems require the user to type using an original Korean keyboard layout, the most common of which is "2(du)-beolshik". This is in contrast to some other languages like Japanese, where text can be entered using a Romanization system on non-native keyboards.


Apart from the conversion issues mentioned above, some Korean fonts do not include hanja to start with. At the same time, current word processors do not allow the user to specify which font to use as a fallback for any hanja that may occur in a text. In that case, each sequence of hanja must be manually formatted to appear in the desired font.

Special situations

Having text run in vertical lines is poorly or not at all supported by HTML and most word processors, although this is not an issue for modern Korean, as it is usually written horizontally. Until the second half of the 20th century, however, Korean was often written vertically. 15th century texts written in hangul had pitch marks to the left of syllables, which are included in Unicode, although most current fonts do not adequately support them, either.

See the section on #Character encodings above for obsolete jamo.


Notable programs specifically designed for Korean language-related use include:
* Language recognition
** A North Korean speech recognition program is said to recognise 100,000 words and to achieve a success rate of more than 90%.cite web |url=http://www.tongilnews.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=2455 |title= _ko. 문답으로 보는 북한 정보화의 현주소 |author=김치관|work=Tongilnews.com |date=2000-12-02 |language=Korean |accessdate=2006-12-03]
** "Mongran" ( _ko. 목란; KCCcite web |url=http://www.tongilnews.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=2622 |title= _ko. <국회자료집> 북한 S/W 현황과 시연자료 |author=김효석 |work=Tongilnews.com |date=2000-12-02 |language=Korean |accessdate=2006-12-03] , North Korea) – Optical character recognition software with an alleged success rate of 99% for printed text and 95% for handwriting recognition.
* Input method editors
** "Tan'gun" ( _ko. 단군; Pyongyang Information Center, North Korea) – Allows the use of hangul on English editions of Windows.
** "Nabi" ( _ko. 나비), "ami" ( _ko. 아미; South Korea) - Allows to type hangul on Linux.
* Word processors – All programs listed below include domestic hangul fonts, non-hangul fonts and a hangul↔hanja conversion utility.
** "Hangul" (Haansoft, South Korea)
** "Ch'angdŏk" ( _ko. 창덕; PIC, North Korea) – This popular program exists in an MS-DOS version developed in April 1990 [http://preview.britannica.co.kr/spotlights/nkorea/society/b20c1792n0.html] and a Windows version developed in 1996.cite web |url=http://www.tongilnews.com/article.asp?main
|title=북한의 컴퓨터산업 어디까지 왔나 |author=Yonhap |work=Tongilnews.com |date=1998-01-07 |language=Korean |accessdate=2006-12-03
] It includes a peculiar personality cult feature by which pressing Ctrl+I or Ctrl+J produces titles exalting Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, respectively.cite web |url=http://www.kplibrary.com/nkterm/read.aspx?num=989 |title= _ko. 북한용어사전: 평양정보센터(PIC) |language=Korean |accessdate=2006-12-03]

Hangul in Unicode

Hangul are detailed in 3 separate parts of the Unicode specification:
* Hangul Jamo (1100–11FF)
* Hangul Compatibility Jamo (3130-318F)
* Hangul Syllables (AC00-D7AF)

Hangul Syllables Area

To find Hangul Syllables in Unicode, you can apply a simple formula. The formula and tables are: [{(initial)×588}+{(medial)×28}+(final)] +44032

Initial Jamo


For example, If you want to find the codepoint of “” in Unicode.
* The value of initial Jamo ㅎ is 18
* The value of medial Jamo ㅏ is 0
* The value of final Jamo ㄴ is 4So, the formula will be {(18×588)+(0×28)+4}+44032, and the result is 54620. It means the Unicode value of 한 is 54620 in decimal, &amp;#54620; by the numeric character reference, and U+D55C in standard Unicode notation.

Hangul Compatibility Jamo Area

Hangul Compatibility Jamo Area is a part of Unicode, which has been allocated for compatibility with the KS X 1001 character set. Usually it is used for representing modern Hangul jamo and some obsolete Hangul Jamo, without distinguishing "initial" and "final".

Hangul Jamo Area

Hangul Jamo Area is a range of Unicode between U+1100–U+11FF. It contains "initial jamo", "medial jamo" and "final jamo", also including obsolete jamo. Nalgaeset Hangul IME and Un Jamo Batang represent obsolete Hangul using this area.

Hanyang Private Use Area codes

Hangul (word processor) ships with fonts from Hanyang Information and Communication. Their fonts map obsolete Hangul characters to the Private Use Area of Unicode. Despite the use of the Private Use Area instead of dedicated codepoints, Hanyang’s mapping is currently the most popular way to represent obsolete Hangul in South Korea.

See also

*Japanese language and computers


External links

* [http://jshin.net/faq/qa8.html Discussion of the different encodings used for Korean]
* [http://support.microsoft.com/kb/177561 Microsoft Help and Support: "How To Add and Enable Additional Languages in Windows"] (explains how to enable Korean support in Windows)

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