How to Type Korean on a Computer (in Windows 8, 7 or Vista)



This article explains how to input Korean characters on a Microsoft WindowsTM computer.



Korean keyboard


The Windows operating system offers a Korean keyboard option, which you can implement by following the procedure detailed below. You can then easily switch between English and Korean by hitting the ALT key. Activating this option makes little change in your computer (a tiny icon will appear in your taskbar), and you can revert the setting anytime.

In the Korean mode, your keyboard will work as shown above. All the consonants are entered by the left hand; all the vowels (except the one marked red in the figure) are entered by the right hand. The shift keys are not used often in the Korean mode, since there is no capital letter in Korean. You need the shift keys for a small number of compound consonants (shift + Q, W, E, R and T keys) and two compound vowels (shift + O and P keys).


Before We Begin

• If you only want to read Korean documents or Web pages, you don’t need to do anything. Windows 8, 7 and Vista already have basic Korean fonts to display Korean texts.

• This article is for those who want to input Korean characters only when needed, while keeping the primary language of the computer in English. If you want to change your computer's default user interface language to Korean, you need to install what is called “Windows Korean Language Pack”, which this article does not deal with.




Windows 8

How to Implement the Korean Keyboard Option (in Windows 8)

1) Open the Control Panel.

One way to open the Control Panel is: Right-click the Windows icon (at the lower left corner) > Select “Control Panel”, which is the 6th item from the bottom.

2) Select “Clock, Language and Region”.

3) Under the “Language” category, click “Add a language". At this point, the panel will look like this:

Add Language Panel View

4) Click “Add a language”. Then, scroll down to section “K” to find Korean.

Pick Korean

5) Select “Korean” and click “Add”. After this action, the panel will look like this:

Add Language Panel View

The Korean keyboard option is now available. You will notice that there is a language button (“ENG”) at the far right end of the taskbar. You will use it to toggle between English and Korean keyboards. How to use this button is explained in the next section.

Win 8 Language Bar




How to Use the Korean Keyboard Function (in Windows 8)

Locate the language button (marked “ENG”) in the lower right corner of your screen. Click it once - a box will expand. Select "Korean Microsoft IME (Input Method Editor)".

Add Language Panel View

Then the language sign will change from “ENG” to Korean mode indicator (Korean), and at the same time, another icon (marked “A”) will appear left to the language sign.

Four controls of the language bar

Language Mode (ENG or Korean mode indicator): This shows whether you are in the English-only mode (ENG) or Korean-enabled mode (Korean mode indicator). You can shift between the two modes by selecting "ENG" or Korean mode indicator.

Current Status (A or Korean mode indicator): Being in the "Korean-enabled" mode doesn't necessarily mean that your keyboard is ready to input Korean characters. It means you can activate Korean when you want. The default in the "Korean-enabled" mode is still English (hence the "A" sign). When you want to type Korean, hit the ALT key on the right side of your keyboard. (The keyboard has two ALT keys; only the right one works for this purpose.)

Four controls of the language bar

When you hit the ATL key, the status icon will change to a Korean character,Korean mode indicator. Your keyboard is now ready to input Korean characters. You can toggle between Korean and English by hitting the right ALT key anytime.

Alternative Method: In the procedure described so far, we started by opening the Control Panel and selecting “Clock, Language and Region”. Windows 8 provides an alternative path to achieve the same goal. Instead of starting at the Control Panel, you can start at “Settings”. (One way to open “Settings” is: Touch the upper-right corner of the screen with the cursor > Select the bottom icon.) Under “Settings”, choose “Change PC settings” (choice given at the bottom). Then select “Time and Language” > Region and Language > Add a language, and so on. Whether you open the Control Panel itself or get to the language control this way, the outcome is the same.



Typing Practice (for Windows 8)

When writing Korean on paper, you need to arrange the letters (consonants and vowels) into squre-shaped clusters (syllables). But on a computer keyboard, you can simply type the letters in a linear sequence. The computer will automatically assemble them into syllabic clusters.

Let's type the Korean word for "summer", which looks like this:
Typing practice 1

This 2-syllable word contains 5 phonetic elements:

Typing practice 1 - elements

Before typing, make sure your language preference is in the Korean mode indicator mode and you have converted the "A" symbol to the Korean mode indicator symbol, using the ALT key.

Now, type the 5 necessary elements one at a time (not the commas in the list – just the Korean characters with no space). You will see that the computer uses the first 2 elements to form the first cluster and the last 3 to make the second.

For another example, let's type the Korean word for "fruit", which looks like this:

Typing practice 2

Like "summer", this word has 2 syllables and 5 phonetic elements:

Typing practice 2 - elements

Type those 5 elements. You will see that, this time, the computer uses the first 3 elements to construct the first syllable, and the last 2 to make the second. But you don't need to concern yourself with the rules behind it. It's done automatically by the computer.

What has been covered so far is all you need to know to be able to type Korean.





Windows 7 or Vista

How to Implement the Korean Keyboard Option (in Windows 7 or Vista)

1) Open the Control Panel.

2) Select “Clock, Language and Region”.

3) Under the “Region and Language” category, click “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods”; “Region and Language” dialog box will pop up.

4) Under the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click “Change Keyboards”.

5) The top half of the panel is “Default Input Language” - do not change it. The bottom half is “Installed Services”. In it, click “Add”; “Add Input Language” box will pop up.

6) Scroll down and find “Korean”; expand the + sign next to “Korean”; expand the + sign next to “keyboard”.

7) Check “Microsoft IME” (2nd box). Do not check "Korean" (1st box) or "Show More” (3rd box).

At this point, your "Add Input Language" window should look like this:

Add Input Language window

8) Click “OK”.

9) Click “Apply” and “OK”. (If you want to deactivate this option in the future, simply take the steps in reverse.)


The Korean keyboard option is now available. At this point, you will see a language bar (marked “EN” [for English]) in the lower right corner of your screen.

Language bar

If the language bar floats in the top right corner of your desktop like this,

Language bar

you can leave it there or close it by clicking the tiny square (above the tiny triangle in the bar) - it will come back to the bottom task bar.




How to Use the Korean Keyboard Function (in Windows 7 or Vista)

Locate the language bar (marked “EN”) in the lower right corner of your screen. Click the “EN” sign once - a box will expand. Select "KO" (instead of "EN").

EN and KO in the language bar

The language bar will then horizontally expand as shown below, giving you control over four features.

Four controls of the language bar

Of the four, you will be dealing with Control 1 and Control 3 only.

Control 1 (KO or EN): This shows whether you are in the Korean-enabled mode or English-only mode. You can shift between the two modes by selecting the KO or EN label.

Control 3 (A or Korean mode indicator): Being in the "KO" mode doesn't necessarily mean that your keyboard is ready to input Korean characters. It means you can activate Korean when you want. The default in the "KO" mode is still English (hence the "A" sign). When want to type Korean, hit the ALT key on the right side of your keyboard. (The keyboard has two ALT keys; only the right one works for this purpose.) You will then see:

Four controls of the language bar

Note that Control 3 shows a Korean character,Korean mode indicator, instead of "A". Your keyboard is now ready to input Korean characters. You can toggle between Korean and English by hitting the right ALT key anytime.

The other two controls (Control 2 and Control 4) are what you probably won’t need at all. (These two are explained at the bottom of this article for the sake of completeness.)



Typing Practice (for Windows 7 or Vista)

When writing Korean on paper, you need to arrange the letters (consonants and vowels) into squre-shaped clusters (syllables). But on a computer keyboard, you can simply type the letters in a linear sequence. The computer will automatically assemble them into syllabic clusters.

Let's type the Korean word for "summer", which looks like this:
Typing practice 1

This 2-syllable word contains 5 phonetic elements:

Typing practice 1 - elements

Before typing, make sure your language bar shows "KO" and you have converted the "A" symbol (Control 3) to the Korean mode indicator symbol, using the ALT key.

Now, type the 5 necessary elements one at a time (not the commas in the list – just the Korean characters with no space). You will see that the computer uses the first 2 elements to form the first cluster and the last 3 to make the second.

For another example, let's type the Korean word for "fruit", which looks like this:

Typing practice 2

Like "summer", this word has 2 syllables and 5 phonetic elements:

Typing practice 2 - elements

Type those 5 elements. You will see that, this time, the computer uses the first 3 elements to construct the first syllable, and the last 2 to make the second. But you don't need to concern yourself with the rules behind it. It's done automatically by the computer.

What has been covered so far is all you need to know to be able to type Korean.





What are the two other controls in the language bar?

Control 4: You won't need this unless you have deep understanding of the etymology of Korean words. Control 4 is used to convert Korean syllables written in phonetic alphabet (as is the case with most modern Korean texts) into classical Asian logograms ("Chinese" characters), which had been for centuries the predominant writing system in Korea until the early part of the 20th century.

Control 2: Recall that, in Step 7 above, it was recommended that you check only the second box (Microsoft IME) in the "Add Input Language" window. If you mistakenly checked the first box ("Korean") as well, that window would look like this:

Add Input Language window with two items checked

With both boxes checked in this manner (not recommended), you will have two choices, which you can see by clicking and holding Control 2:

Language bar with two Korean options

Note the small, white window appearing above the language bar, having two options.

The additional option (marked "Korean" and represented by a gray keyboard icon) apparently does not work as a Korean keyboard. Having this option only interferes with the the Microsoft IME function from time to time.

If you happen to have the two options implemented, your keyboard may occasionally get stuck in the "gray keyboard mode" for unknown reasons (symptom: Korean entry becomes impossible, and the ALT key stops working). When you have this problem, you can use Control 2 to move back to the Microsoft IME mode. If you checked only the Microsoft IME box to begin with in Step 7 above, you won't have this problem, and you won't need Control 2 at all.



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