About Korean Fonts

Desktop publishing is all around us. From the pamphlets and leaflets we receive when we walk into a shop, to brochures, magazines, and newspapers.

With a wide range of proponents claiming that print is dead, it may seem surprising to be focusing on the topic of desktop publishing (DTP), but professional DTP is, and will continue to be, a part of our lives as long as information needs to be disseminated.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the topic of desktop publishing, and specifically, professional DTP as it relates to the Korean language and Korean fonts.

The Korean alphabet

Known as Hangul in South Korea, and as Chosongul in North Korea, the Korean alphabet may appear to share many similarities with Chinese and Japanese.

But, there are some significant differences.

The Korean alphabet, Hangul, was created relatively late, historically speaking, by King Sejong the Great.

Korean letters, or “jamo” (자모) comprise the alphabet, which in turn, consists of 14 consonants and 10 vowels.

The interesting thing about Korean letters is that they were very logically created, with some calling the alphabet as “the most perfect phonetic system” ever devised. And here’s why.

Each shape of each letter is devised in such a way as to mirror the sound that they make. For example, consonants are written in a way that mirrors the shape of the mouth and the position of the tongue when making the sound.

On the other hand, vowels have been built onto a simplified system of horizontal and vertical lines, making them easy to distinguish.

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About Korean Fonts

There are three main font categories:

1. 바탕 Batang (“background”) – the corners of the characters have serifs (a serif is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke)
desktop publishing

2. 돋움 Dotum (“stand out”) or Gothic – characters have no serifs – just like in Latin sans serif fonts
professional DTP

3. 궁서체 Gungsuhche (“Palace Style”) – brush script, imitation of hand-written calligraphy
korean language

Where to find them?

With the Korean language, however, the issue of fonts can be a difficult task if you are a novice and don’t know where to start.

Keeping in mind the Korean language’s use of characters and the specific structure of the Korean language, it’s also important to know when, how and if to emphasize certain words and the font that will be chosen to emphasize this.

Luckily, there are several sources of Korean language fonts which you can use.

These sources include Google’s selection of Korean fonts, Korea’s search engine, Naver, as well as Naver’s Hangul site, which offers the Nanum Pro font series.

Some Important Highlights:

  • Korean is written horizontally left-to-right, top-to-bottom (although historically it used to be written vertically, top-to-bottom, right-to-left, so that would still be acceptable in an artistic context)
  • Korean uses spaces to separate words
  • A piece of text in Korean will usually run slightly longer than its English equivalent
  • There are some differences between typesetting for South Korea and North Korea.
  • For example, South Korea uses English-style quotation marks while North Korea uses French-style guillemets
  • Koreans don’t use italics. Emphasis is achieved by using bold, single quotation marks, and underlines instead. A more old-fashioned way to emphasize something is putting a single dot on top of the desired syllabic blocks
    Single quotation marks are also used for marking a quotation within another quotation and for quoting one’s thoughts.
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Desktop publishing is a critical feature of our modern world as we disseminate information in a variety of ways to our intended audience.

Using catchy fonts might help you create and build your brand, and while this may seem relatively simple in the English-speaking world, the same is not always true for Korea.

Korea’s alphabet, Hangul, is a very logically structured series of consonants and vowels and the use of syllabic blocs makes the language especially suited for learning maths.

Apart from this fact, however, you may need to access some Korean fonts to emphasize your message and employ creativity in your task.

In this blog post, we’ve offered some background information on the Korean alphabet and provided some useful resources for accessing Korean fonts.

We hope this information will help you with your next desktop publishing project!