Increasing your reading comprehension in Korean is one of the biggest challenges that any Korean language learner faces. Why? For one, reading in a new language is undeniably difficult. And if you don’t love reading to begin with, you might be even less interested in studying in a way that you don’t enjoy.
But for students who are teaching themselves or trying to augment their in-class studies, the biggest issue actually lies in figuring out what to read — and where you can get it. Finding resources like beginner level stories to practice your Korean can be really, really hard.
It’s even harder when your Korean level isn’t high enough to search through Korean-language sites. You might not even know what you’re looking at because your vocabulary is limited. I’ve been there; I’ve done that. I’ve battled through those language learning trenches, which is why I’m here to tell you the good news: There are many different ways to find resources to increase your Korean skills through reading!
Just about every webtoon and K-drama I enjoy has at least two of the following features:
A plethora of misunderstandings and ill-timed arrivals
Quirky characters and mysterious pasts
Beautifully dramatic confessions of angst and love
Usually, they have all three. But the last feature, confessions (고백 / go-baek) of angst and love, is particularly fun because it can happen in so many different ways.
All right, so let’s talk about how to confess your love in Korean. There are three main categories of confessing: liking, loving, and “seeing” someone in a romantic or sexual light. And to make matters more interesting, there are also direct and indirect ways of confessing.
For those of you who can’t read hangeul, I’ve written the phonetic pronunciation of the Korean words where necessary. Shall we begin? Continue reading →
Hidden in the interesting Korean phrase 짐승만도 못한 놈 is a Korean grammar construction that’s useful in a variety of situations – but I guess the original sentence is useful, too, if you want to insult someone… Continue reading →
I’m planning to take TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) in November, so cue the intensive studying! But first, I need a study strategy.
For TOPIK, the highest possible level is 6, and the beginner level is 1. There are two versions of the test: the first version evaluates people who may have around a 1 or a 2, and the second version evaluates students from 3 to 6. The score is valid for two years, at which point you must retake it to re-authenticate your Korean proficiency level. Continue reading →
While perusing comments on Korean sites this week, I kept noticing this word, 어케, popping up. Based on the context in which it was used each time, I felt comfortable assuming it was 줄임말 (a shortened form) for 어떻게. A quick google search showed that this word indeed is frequently used in forums as an abbreviation of 어떻게 – but sometimes people confuse it with 오케이. Okay? Not quite. Note that 오 and 어 really are two very different sounds, and proper pronunciation of ‘okay’ dictates the full 오케이 spelling.
I’m not sure you want to start saying this to your Korean friends, however – it seems more like texting slang than anything you might actually say aloud. Also, don’t start using it in formal Korean writing.
It’s the second 단어짱! post. What’s that, you ask? Sometimes when I encounter interesting vocabulary words in shows and reading materials, I find it difficult to find their meanings – this new series aims to introduce random, interesting vocab to other self-taught students. I am also happy to answer anyone who submits an interesting, difficult-to-understand Korean word of their own.
이쪽커플: gay or lesbian couple
My friend stumbled upon this hashtag on Instagram, and it seems that some members of the Korean LGBTQ community uses this hashtag to identify themselves – for example, on Instagram, mainly self-identified lesbian couples are posting couple selfies under this hashtag. This website defines the term as applicable to and the most commonly used phrase for both gay and lesbian couples.
이쪽: this way, this direction
From the above website, which also introduces other related 용어, or slang terms:
이쪽 : 게이와 레즈비언이 모두 사용하는 용어로 이반과 같은 의미를 가지고 있다. 현재는 이반이라는 용어는 많이 사용하지 않고 ‘이쪽’이라는 용어를 많이 사용한다. ‘이쪽’은 울타리와 같은 의미로 ‘이쪽 사람들’을 찾아 소통하거나 만남을 갖는다.
If you’ve ever paid attention to dialogue in genderswap dramas, you may have noticed that Koreans often use “이쪽” or 그쪽” to indirectly say that they are or are not gay. English has some similarities, where some people might carefully say, “I don’t swing that way,” to say that they’re not hetero- or homosexual, depending on the situation.
Hopefully this 단어짱! post was interesting and helpful! 열공~
This is my first 단어짱! post, so I am excited to introduce my 서울드림 followers to a new blog series as I resume intensive self-study of Korean. I just graduated with a dual undergraduate degree in Korean Studies and International Studies, and I am taking a year off before grad school to work, to write, and to improve my Korean – which means regular 서울드림 posts again! Sorry, 서울드림, my thesis kept me away for too long…
Sometimes when I encounter interesting vocabulary words in shows and reading materials, I find it difficult to find their meanings – this new series aims to introduce random, interesting vocab to other self-taught students. I am also happy to answer anyone who submits an interesting, difficult-to-understand Korean word of their own.
Talk show/debate format mimicking a UN-style summit
Features non-Koreans who are conversational or fluent in Korean
Each member represents a different country
The summit is headed by three Korean MCs
Korean celebrities appear as guests that present a weekly topic, usually social/cultural/personal issues of their own or that are submitted to the show
Members vote if the agenda is normal/abnormal and then debate
English subtitles easily available
Very popular in Korea
Many of the original summit members have become foreign celebrities in Korea with CFs and their own businesses
If you like watching non-drama shows and are a foreigner, chances are you’ve already heard of this. Abnormal Summit gathers Korean-speaking male foreigners from various countries who are living and working in Korea and engages them in dialogue over cultural differences. Generally, a celebrity guest appears on the show and represents the person who submitted the issue, or they sometimes bring their own problems. The members vote on whether the person is “normal” or “abnormal” and then debate from their respective cultural perspectives.
Naturally, having a single person represent the perspective of, say, all of the United States, or Malaysia, or the UK (shall I go on?), is an enormous simplification. But the show’s concept is fascinating and it is immensely fun to practice Korean by listening to a group of foreigners and three Korean MCs discuss cultural differences and their personal experiences. The foreign members are non-Koreans who are fluent or conversational in Korean. Their pronunciation isn’t always great, and when they make a mistake, all the agony of language-learning suddenly is validated. I’m not the only one who makes mistakes!
Sorry for reveling in the mistakes of others for a moment, but it’s always nice to know you’re not the only one. And if these guys can go on Korean TV and debate difficult cultural conflicts without being fully fluent in Korean, why not you? Why not me? Let’s learn all the Korean! This show has English subtitles available on different sites, so never fear.
This show is comedic much of the time, but also can offer truly intense and in-depth debates and insights on current global issues or national issues, so you won’t just be practicing Korean but also learning about current events.
And yes – only men get to be permanent guests on Abnormal Summit. There was another show, 미녀들의 수다 or “Beautiful Women”, that featured foreign women, but it ended in controversy.
미수다 was known by various names like “A Chat with Beauties” or “Global Talk Show” and was fairly popular until its ratings crashed and burned in 2009 when a panelist said that men under 180 cm were losers and she would never date them. Ah, is that so? Great, thanks for ruining the one show featuring foreign women. There was controversy over whether she was forced to say this per a script or if it truly was her opinion, but regardless of the real culprit, the show stopped airing after that.
미녀들의 수다 Talk Show Poster
But still, can we get a show in this intercultural debate format that features foreigners who speak Korean – but not limit it to only men or only women?
Each episode or set of episodes focuses on a different mixed couple
All episodes available for free on the EBS website
Korean subs available but no English subs
Not as popular as 비정상회잠
Commentator’s 아저씨 voice is fantastic
Global Family is a documentary-style show from EBS that goes into the homes and lives of international couples living in Korea – where one of the couples is native Korean. The other may be from any number of countries ranging from Canada to Ukraine, and the non-Koreans vary in their Korean ability and their years living in Korea. Some are married, some engaged. All the episodes that I have seen address the relationship between the foreign-in-law and their Korean in-laws in a way that challenges the stereotype of fierce in-laws and prejudice against foreign wives or husbands.
This show is a great way to see the interaction between different cultures in terms of relationships and establishing a family in Korea. For me, it also has become a source of encouragement like Abnormal Summit because while some foreigners are fluent in Korean, others stumble in their pronunciation and make hilarious mistakes on camera – but does that stop them? No!
Nor should you or I stop. We will make mistakes. We will laugh at our mistakes. Learn from them. And move on and make new mistakes but not make the same mistake twice. That’s what shows about foreigners in Korea can teach you. Not just cultural differences and intercultural communication, but being fearless in your efforts to use Korean.
Unfortunately, I don’t know of a site that has this show subtitled in English. The EBS site does offer Korean subtitles, which can help you catch words you don’t hear correctly, and improve your reading along with your listening, but it presents a challenge for Korean-learners who aren’t ready yet for subtitle-less shows. Start with Abnormal Summit, and try out Global Family when you’re ready for more of a challenge!
If you like other shows that feature foreigners speaking Korean, or know of English subs for Global Family, let me know in the comment section below.
Jk, lmao, lol, omg. English has tons of text talk, and so does Korean. If you’ve been chatting with native Korean speakers via Hellotalk, Italki, or KakaoTalk (if you want to find a language partner, read this post), you may have seen many abbreviations already – but do you know what they mean? Over time, you’ll start to accumulate more and more text-talk acronyms in Korean, but here’s a quick and easy list to get you started on the basics!
ㅇㅋ오케이 – Okay
ㅇㅇ응/웅 – Yeah, uh-huh (응 is informal whereas 네 and 예 are formal)
ㄴㄴ노노 – “No” doubled for extra effect. Using just one ‘no’? That’s ㄴㄴ!
ㄳㄳ감사감사/감사합니다 – Thanks
ㅈㅅ죄송/죄송합니다 – Sorry
ㅇㅈ인정 – Acknowledged (This can be like saying “Yeah, agreed”)
ㅂㅂ바이바이 – Bye-bye
ㄷㄷㄷ덜덜 떨다 – Verb phrase for “to tremble all over”. Use when shaking from amazement, fear, the frigid wintry winds…
ㅋㅋ크크/쿡쿡 – Keke (basic text-talk for laughter)
ㅎㅎ흐흐/하하 – Hehe/haha (basic text-talk for laughter)
ㅇㄱㄹㅇ이거 레알 – “This is real.” While it originated as a twist on the Korean spelling of “real” as 리얼, Real Madrid fans took this 신조어 further and now many Koreans use this in place of a sentence like “이거 진짜야!” ㅇㄱㄹㅇ. Don’t believe me?
“사용 권장 하는 말은 아니지만요…” Not sure why a show host cautioned usage. If you know why, please leave a comment so I can update this list!
If you’d like to see more list posts, let me know. 오늘도 방문해 주셔서 감사합니다!