AS WE LEARNED IN the previous chapter, Korean was the first non-Chinese language that the Chinese writing system was adapted to write. It is likely that Koreans were exposed to Chinese writing as early as the 2nd century bce, 1 and by the 3rd to the 4th centuries ce educated elites were already using the Chinese script to write Korean. 2 Since then and until the Joseon dynasty (朝鮮 1393-1897), Chinese characters, or hanja (漢字), had been used in a variety of ways in traditional Korea, both to write the Korean language, as in the idu 3 (吏讀, 'clerical reading') script and the hyangchal (鄕札 'vernacular letters') script, and to annotate Classical Chinese texts using a system called gugyeol (口訣 oral formulae'). The Korean alphabet, hangeul (한글han 'great,'geul' 'writing'), was created in the 15th century, but Chinese characters continued to dominate the written culture for hundreds of years after that. A mixed script of hanja and hangeul emerged in the modern era. After a gradual transition since the mid- to late 20th century, today's Korean writing is almost exclusively done in hangeul. In this chapter, we will take a closer look at each of the ways of writing mentioned above following roughly their order of historical occurrence.