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Wae (왜), oe (외) and we (웨) sounds exactly the same.

Wae (왜), oe (외) and we (웨) sounds exactly the same. Is there an example in the English language that is similar that can make me understand why?

I just started on the alphabet and got a bit confused before I learned the signs. Will probably understand further ahead but I got a bit caught of guard by that.

Thanks in advance and have a great day! :) / Greetings from Sweden.

October 12, 2017


  • 1783

They are actually very similar. It's safe to assume practically all native speakers pronounce them the same.

  • 애, 에
  • 얘, 예
  • 왜, 외, 웨

We articulate them only when needed, like in order to distinguish between a dog (개) and a crab (게).


Okay good to know.

I'm only on the first part of the alphabet but I got so many things that are already confusing me. My western brain hurts trying to make sense of it so far.

I'm gonna go on a Youtube bender to understand the structure of it before I venture further in because at this point its more of a memory game then actually understanding the structure of it.


If you're looking for a pretty good tool to teach you pronunciation, check out this (paid) Korean pronunciation trainer from Fluent-forever. The theory behind it can be seen here.


Thanks Ash-Fred!


Hi IngoGarza, Do you mean the vowels 왜 (wae) and 외 (oe) in Alphabet-Lesson 6? Perhaps I can give you approximate examples for the two you mentioned. Try saying the word 'wait' for 왜 (wae) and 'wet' for 외 (oe). When you say 'wait' the letters w and a makes the sound close to 왜 (wae) and when you say 'wet' the letters w and e makes the sound similar to 외 (oe). Some Korean vowels have sounds that are often difficult to differentiate because the differences are subtle. Here is a tip that might also help you: the differences in pronunciation of the following vowels 애 (ae) and 에 (e); 얘 (yae) and 예 (ye); 왜 (wae) with 웨 (we) and 외 (oe) are very small. Do not worry too much about their differences because a lot of people can't distinguish them in standard spoken Korean. I was taught many years ago by native teachers who mentioned that the distinction between these vowels are being lost with each younger generation, and that in standard spoken Korean a lot of people do not usually distinguish between them anyway. Try youtube for some native speaker audio or search for an audiobook that teaches the pronunciations. You'll get better at recognizing the sounds through context and immersion in the language. Good luck.


Yes! It was at the Alphabet-Lesson 6 I noticed it. You just gave my mind some rest. I'll continue the lessons with this in mind.

Thank you for the help! Have a good day :)


Yeah, it really makes ''what sound does this make?'' exercises a pain when you need to choose either ''Oe'' ''Wae'' or ''Wae'' and you have no idea :P


For me, It's ye and yae


I haven't done the alphabet skills from the tree, so I'm not sure I know which letters you're talking about. Do you happen to know which Korean letters wae and oe represent? That might make it easier for me, or a native Korean speaker, to help you.


Oh I should have included that, good point.


왜 = wae

외 = oe

Just did the test and noticed we (웨) is also the same.

I find it hard to grasp as the alphabet in Swedish and English doesnt follow the same structure.

I added it to my original post!


Two years have passed but no one answered to this "Is there an example in the English language that is similar that can make me understand why?", just in case someone needs an example to understand this concept.... Wae (왜), oe (외) and we (웨) sound exactly the same.... It's a merger. Consider how the majority of North Americans pronounce 'merry', 'marry' and 'Mary' the same. And probably half of them pronounce 'Don' and 'dawn' the same. Or how non-rhotic speakers pronounce 'source' and 'sauce', 'career' and 'Korea' the same.

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