The Korean alphabet, or Hangul (known as Han-geul in South Korea and Chosŏn'gŭl in North Korea), is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It was created during the Joseon Dynasty in 1443, and is now the official script of both North Korea and South Korea, and co-official in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of the Jilin Province in the People's Republic of China. In South Korea, Hangul is augmented by Chinese characters, called hanja.
Hangul is a true alphabet of 24 consonant and vowel letters. However, instead of being written sequentially like the letters of the Latin alphabet, Hangul letters are grouped into blocks, such as 한 han, each of which transcribes a syllable. That is, although the syllable 한 han may look like a single character, it is composed of three letters: ㅎ h, ㅏ a, and ㄴ n. Each syllabic block consists of two to five letters, including at least one consonant and one vowel. These blocks are then arranged horizontally from left to right or vertically from top to bottom. The number of possible blocks is 11,172, though there are far fewer possible syllables in Korean, and not all possible syllables actually occur. For a phonological description, see Korean phonology.