The Korean alphabet, also known as Hangul, or Chosongul (officially transcribed 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 South Korea and North Korea, and co-official in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture of China's Jilin Province. In South Korea, Hangul is sometimes augmented by Chinese characters, called hanja, whereas in North Korea, hanja are virtually nonexistent.
Hangul is a featural 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 actually 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 mathematically possible blocks is 11,172, though there are far fewer possible syllables allowed by Korean phonotactics, and not all phonotactically possible syllables occur in actual Korean words. For a phonological description, see Korean phonology.