Revised Romanization hyangchal
McCune–Reischauer hyangch'al

Hyangchal (literally vernacular letters, local letters or corresponded sound) is an archaic writing system of Korea and was used to transcribe the Korean language in hanja. Under the hyangchal system, Chinese characters were given a Korean reading based on the syllable associated with the character.[1] The hyangchal writing system is often classified as a subgroup of Idu.[2]

The first mention of hyangchal is the monk Kyun Ye's biography during the Goryeo period. Hyangchal is best known as the method Koreans used to write hyangga poetry. Twenty-five such poems still exist and show that vernacular poetry used native Korean words and Korean word order, and each syllable was "transcribed with a single graph". The writing system covered nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, particles, suffixes, and auxiliary verbs. The practice of hyangchal continued during the Goryeo Dynasty, where it was used to record native poetry as well.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Coulmas 2002, p. 67.
  2. ^ Sohn 2001, pp. 125, 128.
  3. ^ Sohn 2001, p. 125.
  • Coulmas, Florian (2002). Writing Systems: An Introduction to Their Linguistic Analysis. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521787376.
  • Sohn, Ho-Min (2001). The Korean Language. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521369435.