Whenever I read someone says “it’s so easy to learn to read hangul, it will only take you like 2 hours to do that”, I flinch a little because it’s not entirely true. Memorizing how each letter (or part of the letter?) sounds is easy, but then getting used to the rules of pronunciation changes will take some time.
When I started learning Korean, I used pronunciation guide in katakana (because I used textbooks written in Japanese) to help me practice reading hangul. The only way to get used to reading hangul is reading it every day, so when I found myself avoiding reading hangul without pronounciation guide, I got myself textbooks with pronunciation guide. So I know from the start that, for example, 좋고 is [jo-ko], 옳다 is [ol-ta], 몇 학년 is [myeo-tang-nyeon] >> but in katakana, not ABC.
Even so, I’m still surprised whenever I find a hangul word read differently from how it’s written.
Like yesterday, when I listened to a CD of a Korean textbook, I found out that 요리법 (=cooking recipe) is actually read “yo-ri-ppop”, not “yo-ri-bop”! Thank God now my ears are trained enough to hear the difference. Two years ago I wouldn’t have found out by myself, I would have needed the romanization.
Yes, 요리법 is pronounced [요리뻡 yo-ri-ppop]. Just check Naver Dictionary if you don’t believe me.
And then, also yesterday, I asked a forum with Korean natives, why 못쓰다 is romanized as [mot-sseu-da] when it is actually pronounced [mos-sseu-da], with ‘ss’ sound? Don’t believe me? Check Naver Dictionary and click the audio button!
Guess what, no one knew what I was talking about. Some people even insisted that it’s pronounced [mot] not [mos] like the way I hear it.
Oh well, instead of being frustrated about it, I’ll just trust my gut feeling and my own ears: that ‘ㅅ’ before ‘ㅆ’ pronounced ‘s…’, because I don’t hear any ‘t’ sound there. At least for now, until I find a better explanation. ###