Let’s learn Hanja with Japanese and English

When I learn Korean, it’s easier for me to remember Hanja, which correspond to Chinese characters. Many of the characters in Korean and Japanese have a similar meaning and/or pronunciation, so it’s almost like I know the word already.

Which makes it easier for me!
I’m always happy when I find those similarities and differences.


But since there are those slight differences, English comes in handy when I try to analyze those differences from a blank slate.

In this post, I want to try to introduce how I learn the Korean Hanja. Hopefully this helps Korean speakers review their Hanja, Japanese speakers learn some Korean, English speakers learn Korean and Japanese.


One way I use Hanja to learn Korean is through the meaning of the characters. Even though those Korean and Japanese words don’t sound similar, the meanings are the same.




For example 사회 is 社会 (society).

Since I know the word 社会 in Japanese, I can derive words like the following:

Kai-sha-in  会社員 회사원 hoe-sa-won     Employee

Tai-sha         退社   퇴사    toe-sa                   to resign from a company

Kyou-kai     教会   교회    kyo-hoe               Church

Kyou-iku     教育   교육    kyo-yook            Education

Another way Hanja comes in handy is when I know the sound of the characters. Words could have the same sound, but have different meanings if they are written in Hanja.

For example, it helps me understand that there are many words with “shi” sounds but they have different meanings depending on the original character (hanja).


視力 시력 vision (see + ability)

詩人 시인     poet (poem + person)

試験 시험     exam
(both characters mean: to test or to confirm with evidence)

市民 시민     citizen (city + people)

市場 시장     market (market + place)


to (make a) start     始作する (start + make)
*not in Japanese, but still understandable
to make a sample   試作する (to test + make)
to make a poem       詩作する (poem + make)

This way, it’s not as crazy to think that words that sound the same mean completely different things in Korean. They are actually different because they are derived from different Chinese characters.

There are more ways that I use Japanese and English to learn Korean. Maybe this topic will come up again in future posts!


Do you have any tips on how to learn Korean or any other language?
Let me know if you have any questions/corrections/suggestions about this post 😉


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