Korean is the language of both South and North Korea, as well as being one of the two official languages in Yanbian Autonomous Prefecture in northeastern China. The script used for writing Korean is know as Hangul in South Korea and Chosongul in North Korea, although it is the same native script dating back to the 15th century. Unlike Chinese, each character expresses a sound, with the sounds combining to form words much like in European languages such as Italian. Korean uses spaces to separate words.
Many linguists have enthused over Hangul, describing it as “remarkable” and “the most perfect phonetic system devised”. Hangul has a partly featural design: that is, the shapes of the letters are related to the sounds they represent. Consonants are based on the shape of the mouth and tongue in the production of that sound. Vowels are built from vertical or horizontal lines so that they are easily distinguishable from consonants.
Korean typesetting in InDesign
In common with Chinese and Japanese, Korean usually needs special software to ensure correct composition. eg at the time of writing, Korean text characters will appear correctly in InDesign “out of the box”, but need a plugin or the “Far Eastern” version of InDesign for sentences to be composed and spaced correctly. Provided Unicode fonts are used throughout (and why wouldn’t they be), there should be no problems with getting the characters to appear correctly. For a wider range of fonts than the basic system ones, buy online or use a professional Korean typesetter.
Traditionally Korean was written vertically, but writing characters horizontally from left to right is now overwhelmingly prevalent. Korean typesetting fonts often fall into one of three styles: gungche (like a latin brushscript), batang (like a latin serif font), and dotum or gothic (like a latin sans serif font).
The Korean typesetting of a piece of text may run slightly longer than its English equivalent, but rarely enough to present any major design headaches.