These lessons start from the simplest characters. Each character is listed with three most-frequently-used word examples where it is used as a part (i.e., lexeme or morpheme), along with actual sentences that contain such words. Each lesson contains five entries of characters.
Background of Hanja in the Korean language
Hanja, or ‘Sino-Korean characters’, means the Chinese characters used in Korea, parallel to Japanese kanji. The sound of the characters is quite Koreanized, but the meanings are almost exactly the same throughout in Korea, China, and Japan. Getting oriented with some of the basic hanja‘s will help you to learn the Far Eastern culture in general. (It will also make you look learned, for hanja knowledge has been taken as a symbol of intelligence.)
Chinese characters are introduced to Korea more than two thousand years ago. Since Koreans did not have their own writing system until 1446 when King Sejong and the scholars in his Royal Academy (Chiphyonjon) invented Hunmin chong-um, the original version of Hangul, the writing system of China was employed as their official writing system in the very early times of history. The Korean language has thus received a vast influence from Chinese over the long period of time, especially in terms of its vocabulary.
Chinese-based parts of the language still prevails a huge portion even in present-day Korean. The Korean number system would make a good example. Korean, like Japanese, has two sets of numbers: native Korean and Sino-Korean. Koreans do use the native Korean numbers, but the Sino-Korean set is also used as much. When you tell time, you use the native numbers for the hour, while using the Sino-Korean numbers for the minutes and seconds: e.g., tu-shi iship-pun samship-ch`o (two-o’cklock twenty-minute thirty-second: 2:20:30, where tu is native Korean and i is Sino-Korean for ‘two’.)