5 Best Korean Learning Apps for Beginners

Learn korean app

The best way to learn Korean is through lessons with a Korean teacher, but supplemental study materials – such as Korean learning apps – can be very beneficial for language students as well.

Learning to speak Korean can be challenging, especially for English speakers. The language has a different alphabet, Hangul, and it contains sounds that aren’t found in English.

Fortunately, between YouTube lessons and language learning apps, there are lots of helpful resources available. Check out the list below for five of the best Korean learning apps to help you master the language.

Best Apps to Learn Korean

1. Learn Korean

Learn korean app

Learn Korean is compatible with an iPhone or iPad. The app contains progressive levels designed to teach Korean in a simple, comprehensive manner.

You can also track your progress through multiple vocabulary and grammar lessons. This Korean learning app is free to download, but there are additional features that you can purchase.

2. TenguGo Hangul

Learn korean app

TenguGo Hangul is a free Korean learning app that’s compatible with both Apple and Android devices. The app includes vowel and consonant charts and instructions for reading and writing in Korean.

If you’re a beginner, TenguGo Hangul is one of the best Korean learning apps to help you master the alphabet.

3. Korlink’s Talk to Me in Korean

Learn korean app

This free app is available for Apple and Android devices. There is also a separate app designed specifically for iPads and tablets.

There are English explanations, easy-to-follow examples, multiple learning levels, pictures, and grammar lessons.

4. Korean Vocabulary Free – Flashcards for Beginners and Kids

Learn korean app

When it comes to this app, the name says it all. Download this digital learning tool to access Korean vocabulary flashcards. The flashcards are organized by categories like food, colors, and greetings.

This Korean learning app is available for Apple and Android devices, and you can download additional features for a small fee.

5. Dongsa

Learn korean app

Dongsa is a fantastic tool to help you learn Korean verbs. It’s available for Apple and Android products. The app teaches all of the different Korean verb conjugations, and it can also help you improve your Korean writing skills.

This app costs 99 cents and you can unlock more features for an additional cost.

These Korean learning apps will help you learn basic Korean, but if you need additional help mastering the language, search here for a Korean teacher near you!

Photo by Gonzalo Baeza

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Counting in Korean: A Beginner’s Guide to Korean Numbers

Counting numbers 1-10 in Native & Sino Korean

Learning the Korean numbers is necessary to read, write, and speak in Korean. In this article, we’ll show you how to count in Korean from 1–10.

The Korean number system is complex, but with a little practice, anyone can learn it! There are two different categories of numbers in Korean: Korean numbers and Sino-Korean numbers.

The two categories can cause some confusion, so let’s look at the differences between them, so you can learn how to count in Korean.

An Intro to Korean Numbers

What is Sino-Korean?

Sino-Korean refers to actual Korean words that originated in China or were influenced by Chinese words. About 60 percent of Korean vocabulary is Sino-Korean.

Tofu is a great example. Tofu is written as 두부 in Korean (read as dubu) and written as 豆腐 in hanja (Chinese characters).

Sino-Korean vocabulary also includes the Korean numbers used for dates, money, time, addresses, and numbers above 100.

Below is a list of numbers 1 to 10 in (native) Korean and Sino-Korean, so that you can see the difference in pronunciation and writing.

Korean Numbers 1-10

  • 1  하나 hana
  • 2  둘 dhul
  • 3 셋 sehtt
  • 4  넷 nehtt
  • 5  다섯 da-seot
  • 6 여섯 yeo-seot
  • 7  일곱 il-gop
  • 8 여덟 yuh-deol
  • 9 아홉 ah-hop
  • 10  열 yeol

Sino-Korean Numbers 1-10

  • 1 일 il
  • 2 이 i (pronounced as “e”)
  • 3  삼 sam
  • 4 사 sa
  • 5  오 o
  • 6 육 yuk
  • 7 칠 chil
  • 8 팔 pal
  • 9 구 gu
  • 10 십 ship

Remember, Sino-Korean numbers are used for dates, money, time, addresses, and numbers above 100.

Here’s an example:

If your friend asks you how long it’s been since you started studying Korean, you could answer: “나는 한국어 공부 시작한지 “셋” 일” (native Korean numbers).

This answer will show that it’s only been three days since you started studying Korean, but it will sound really awkward. The correct reply is:
“나는 한국어 공부 시작한지 “삼”일 됐어,” since you must use Sino-Korean when you’re talking about dates.

Patterns in Korean Numbers

Now that you know the difference between (native) Korean and Sino-Korean numbers, let’s look at the basic logic in the two numbering systems.

Consider this example:일, 이, 삼, 사, 오, 육, 칠, 팔, 구, and 십. You know now that this is a Sino-Korean numbering set. It’s used for dates, money, time, addresses, and numbers above 100.

Obviously, there are numbers, like 11, that go over 10. So how do you say/write 11 in Korean? Again, there is a logical consistency with numbers in Korean. You know 11 is a product of adding the numbers 10 and one.

You also know that 십 is 10 and 일 is one. When you add those two together, you get 11, algebraically, and you get “십일” in Korean.

What about 12? The same rule applies: 10 is 십 and two is 이. Add those two together and you get 십이. Can it be really be that easy? Yes!

The same rule applies to (native) Korean numbers: 하나, 둘, 셋, 넷, 다섯, 여섯, 일곱, 여덟, 아홉, and 열. These are the Korean numbers 1 – 10, so what’s 11? 열 is 10 and 하나 is one. When you add these together, you get 11, which is “열 하나” in Korean.

When the number exceeds 19 (열아홉 in Korean or 십구 in Sino-Korean), you will need a new number for 20, which is 스물 in (native) Korean  and 이십 in Sino-Korean.

After that, the counting logic still applies, so here’s how you can figure out 21 in Korean: It’s the product of  스물 (20) and 하나 (One). In Sino-Korean, combine 이십 (20) and 일 (one).

Whether you’re using Korean or Sino-Korean numbers, the same logic applies when it comes to adding numbers. For a visual reminder of Korean and Sino-Korean numbers, see the infographic below!


numbers 1-10 in native and sino Korean infographic

There you have it! The numbers in Korean may seem complex at first, but once you understand the basic principles and logic behind these two systems, it will be much easier to master counting.

Is there a certain Korean number you need help spelling or saying? Let us know in the comments below! If you’re ready to start learning more Korean today, search for a Korean teacher near you.

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12 Expert Tips on How to Learn Korean Fast!

How to learn Korean fast

There are dozens of reasons you might be wondering how to learn Korean fast. For starters, South Korea has the 11th largest economy in the world. In addition, Korean is the 12th highest spoken language with more than 77 million speakers.

The possibilities that stem from learning Korean are endless! Whether you want to learn Korean for business or pleasure, (or watching K-dramas), there are several strategies that can propel you to fluency faster. Here are 12 expert tips on how to learn Korean fast.

How to Learn Korean Fast

Tip #1: Learn Hangul

As with any new language, mastering the alphabet is a great way to kickstart your journey to fluency. While the unfamiliar Hangul characters may seem intimidating at first, the Korean alphabet is not very difficult to learn.

Unlike other languages which evolved from pictographs, Hangul was purposely invented by King Sejong in 1443 to be as easy as possible for Koreans to learn.  

Hangul is made up of 24 letters including 14 consonants and 10 vowels. The shapes of the written consonants are based on the shape that the mouth forms when making each sound. Vowels are made up of vertical and horizontal lines. It’s no exaggeration to say that you could learn Hangul within the next hour or two.

As an added bonus, Hangul is an entirely phonetic language, meaning that it will always sound exactly how it is written. In English, more than 60% of words contain silent letters (for example – knee, wrist, daughter, island, etc.). Hangul is much more straightforward and easy to master. 

Tip #2: Build Your Vocabulary

Once you have Hangul down, you can start building up your vocabulary. Begin with the basics such as numbers, days of the week, and basic conversational phrases, then add to your vocabulary depending on the reason you’re studying Korean.

If you wish to learn Korean for an upcoming trip, focus on words related to directions and transportation. Interested in Korean food? Work on your kitchen and cooking-related vocabulary.

As you start learning more new words, write them down in a notebook. The simple act of writing words down will help you practice Hangul and commit the word to memory. It’s even better if you can think of a fun picture or story to help you remember the word!

Tip #3: Konglish is Your Friend

There are many “Konglish” (Korean+English) words that make up a significant sum of everyday language.

Loan words are words which borrow both the sound and meaning from the English word. These words are very easy to recognize as they sound like the word in English, only with a Korean accent. Some examples include:

  • 컵 (kuhp) = cup
  • 카페 (ka-peh) = cafe
  • 초콜릿 (cho-kol-lit) = chocolate
  • 카메라 (ka-meh-ra) = camera
  • 택시 (tek-shi) = taxi
  • 인터넷 (in-tuh-net) = internet
  • 스무디 (soo-moo-thee) = smoothie

Other Konglish words sound like English words but have different meanings. Often, Koreans will shorten an English word to make a new Konglish word. Some examples include:

  • 에어컨 (air-con) = air conditioner
  • 노트 (note) = notebook
  • 밴드 (band) = band-aid
  • 헬스 (health) = health club, gym

Do a quick online search of common Konglish words. You’ll be surprised at how much Korean you already know!

Tip #4: Surround Yourself with Korean

One of the best ways to keep your brain engaged with Korean is to expose yourself to the language daily. This can be as simple as changing your phone’s language settings, or sticking post-it notes on everyday items around the house with their Korean words.

Surrounding yourself with Korean doesn’t have to mean hours upon hours of grueling study every day. On the contrary, you can keep Korean on your mind by using downtime wisely. Take advantage of your commute to work and lunch breaks to practice Korean.

Quiz yourself with flashcards or play games on a fun Korean app. If you prefer to go hands-free, make use of the many Korean podcasts and audio books as you work out or drive. Downtime adds up quickly and can be very useful if you want to learn Korean fast.

Tip #5: Discover your Learning Style

One simple, but crucial tip for how to learn Korean fast is to understand your unique learning style. There are three main learning styles:

  • Visual (learning by seeing)
  • Auditory (learning by listening/hearing)
  • Kinesthetic (learning by actions)

While some students are a mix of all three, knowing what your particular learning style is can help you maximize your Korean studies and learn more efficiently.

Learning styles for how to learn Korean fast

By using specific study methods that work best with your learning style, you will find that things like memorizing new vocabulary will become much easier. Take the learning styles test here to find out which method works best for you.

Tip #6:  Take Lessons with a Korean Teacher

Structured learning through private lessons with an experienced tutor can provide the extra push you need to truly fast track your learning. Not only will you have someone to guide you through tricky concepts like grammar rules, but you’ll also have someone to hold you accountable to reaching your goals.

A good Korean tutor will be able to cater to your learning style and develop a personalized lesson plan for you. Whether your language goals are work-related or personal, learning from a qualified Korean teacher provides the one-on-one guidance you need to learn Korean faster.  Interested in working with a Korean tutor near you, or online? Find a Korean teacher here.

Tip #7: Find a Language Partner

There’s no doubt that the best way to improve your language skills is to get as much speaking time as possible. Find a Korean language group near you on sites like Meetup. If you don’t have any Korean communities nearby, you can also try finding language partners online through forums or groups on Facebook.

Commit to meeting weekly with your language partners, and establish a rule that you’ll only speak in Korean. Come prepared with a topic to discuss, so rather than going through the same small talk each week, you will be able to have a more in-depth conversation.

You can also chat with language partners using KakaoTalk, the most widely used chatting app in Korea. Chances are, if your new language buddies are Korean, they already have the app installed on their phone! By practicing with native Korean speakers, you’ll be introduced to local slang, idioms, and be able to improve your accent. 

Tip #8: Take a Group Korean Class

While learning a language can (and should) be a lot of fun, you might find yourself losing some motivation after a period of time. Find ways to keep your practice routine fresh, such as taking a group Korean class with other like-minded learners.

Group Korean classes are more dynamic than independent learning, with instant feedback from an instructor and interaction with other students. They’re another excellent way to practice your conversation skills while learning about important topics such as grammar and pronunciation.

TakeLessons Live offers fun and interactive group Korean classes for students at every level. With a free month-long trial for all classes, it’s a no-brainer to try it out for yourself. Classes are held at varying times throughout the week to fit into any busy schedule.

Tip #9: Watch K-dramas and Listen to K-pop

Watching Korean dramas, movies, and TV shows is a fun way to incorporate more Korean into your daily life and increase your vocabulary. If subtitles are available, turn them on in case you come across a word you haven’t learned yet.

After a while, you’ll be surprised at your brain’s ability to connect phrases and vocabulary with their meanings, even if you haven’t exclusively studied them yet!

Listening to Korean artists or radio stations is another good habit to get into. While you won’t understand everything at first, try to pull out keywords and piece together the general meaning of a song. Then, try singing along with the Hangul lyrics to improve your pronunciation.

It’s a well known fact that music or melodies can help you memorize new ideas, so go ahead and indulge yourself in some K-pop!

SEE ALSO: 7 Reasons Why Learning Korean Isn’t As Hard As You Think

Tip #10: Have an Immersion Experience

If you have the time and resources, the best way to learn Korean fast is through complete immersion in Korean culture. Take a trip to Korea and you’ll be challenged to speak and read in Korean at every turn.

Although many Koreans will be able to speak to you in English, commit to only speaking in Korean. If you have to, explain that you are trying to learn the language.

If visiting Korea is not a possibility, try to find a way to have a complete immersion experience locally. Is there a Korean town nearby? Take a day trip there and only speak in Korean, whether you’re ordering at a Korean restaurant or shopping for groceries.  

Tip #11: Set SMART Goals

All the above are excellent tips for how to learn Korean fast, but without specific goals you may find yourself overwhelmed with all the new information you’re taking in. Set SMART goals to create a learning strategy that includes healthy milestones and will keep you motivated to achieve the next steps.

Set goals for how to learn Korean fast

Source: Smart About Money

Instead of having a vague goal such as “I want to learn Korean fast,” set SMART goals like “I want to be able to order in Korean at a Korean restaurant by the end of this month,” or “I want to be able to write a paragraph in Hangul by the end of this week.”

Think about the reason you’re learning Korean and set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals to keep you focused.

Tip #12: Don’t be Discouraged

If you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously serious about learning Korean. Don’t be discouraged if/when you make mistakes along the way, and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone to practice speaking Korean more. Native speakers will appreciate your efforts and enjoy helping you learn!

Mastering Korean takes time and effort; as the saying goes, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” So celebrate each time you achieve a goal, and remember what inspired you to learn Korean in the first place! It will feel incredibly rewarding when you look back and realize how much Korean you’ve learned to speak, read, and write.

Now that you know the best tips for how to learn Korean fast, you’re ready to get started! While some sources say it can take over 2,000 hours to master Korean, the above tips are sure to speed up the process. You can do it! 파이팅!

Guest Post Author: Jade B. is a Korean-Australian writer and world traveler whose love of languages and cultures hasn’t shown signs of stopping. She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and currently works as a translator.

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Sound Like a Native With 8 Korean Slang Expressions

8 Korean Slang Expressions That Will Make You Sound Like a Native

You may have all of the resources to learn Korean, but can you speak like a native yet? If you can’t, we’ll help with that! In this article, guest blogger Anum Yoon from Current on Currency will teach you eight Korean slang words to make your speech sound more natural…


By now, you should be aware of the fact that Koreans love incorporating slang into casual conversations. In any given Korean drama or reality show, there are a variety of different slang terms being thrown around.

Slang expressions in Korea aren’t just used by the younger generations either; a lot of working professionals and parents use them as well since they’re so commonplace. Knowing slang, on top of other useful Korean phrases, will help you assimilate to the language even better.

Let’s take a look at the slang expressions you’ll be learning today.


Note: The following phrases are all in the informal Korean form.


1) 대박

The English equivalent to this expression would be “jackpot,” but you can use this phrase to describe anything from a delicious meal to a great movie. It can also be substituted for “wow” when expressing shock. It’s not uncommon to hear people exclaim “대박” upon hearing shockingly bad news or even shockingly good news.


Person A:   영화 어땠어?
How was the movie?

Person B:   대박이였어.
It was great!

Person A:   뭐가 그렇게 좋았는데?
What was so great about it?

Person B:   마지막에 반전이 있는데, 주인공이 죽거든.
There’s a plot twist at the end where the main character dies.

Person A:  대박, 진짜?
Wow, really?

2) 멘붕

This is a shortened form of멘탈붕괴,which is a combination of the English world “mental” and the word붕괴,” which means “to destroy.” The word “mental” is often used to refer to the mental state of a person, so멘붕means to experience mental breakdown or to feel severe stress.


내일 시험 2 있는데 아직 공부 시작도 안해서 멘붕이야.
I have 2 exams tomorrow but I haven’t started studying yet so I’m in a state of mental breakdown.

3) 불금

불금” is short for “불타는 금요일,” which literally translates to “burning Friday.” This basically means TGIF, except it includes the connotation of drinking or partying.


오늘 불금이니까 제대로 즐겨야지.
Today is burning Friday so we have to enjoy ourselves properly.

4) 볼매

볼매” is the shortened form of “볼수록 매력있어,” which means “the more you look, the more charmed you become.” So it basically means that something is “growing on you.” This expression is often used to describe someone’s looks, or even clothing and accessories.


청바지 처음에 봤을땐 별로 였는데, 근데 은근 볼매야.
I thought these jeans weren’t great when I first saw them, but it’s growing on me.

5) 빵터져

This is basically the same expression as “LOL.” The phrase literally translates as “to explode” or “to pop with a bang.”


어제 뮤직비디오 보다가 빵터졌어.
I LOL-ed so hard while watching that music video yesterday.

6) 썸 타다

This phrase is a compound word derived from the English word “something,” and the Korean word “다,”  which means “to feel” or “to ride.” This means there’s something special between two people and they’re both riding this feeling. This expression appropriately describes the awkward phase before a couple becomes official.


요즘 누구랑 썸타냐? 왜그렇게 기분이 좋아보여?
Are you seeing someone these days? Why do you look so happy?

7) 똥차

The literal translation of this word would mean, “honeywagon.” But if you break down the word, you’d have “” and “차,” which means “excretion” and “car.” Koreans tend to add the word “” when describing something as less than desirable. For example, if you have an old, cheap, or broken phone, you’d call it a “똥폰.” You’d likewise call a cheap or broken down car a “똥차.” More interestingly, this phrase is also used among women to describe men who aren’t good enough for them.


저런 똥차한테 시간 낭비 하지마.
Don’t waste your time on a bad guy like him.

8) 웃프다

This is another compound word that combines the words “웃다” and “슬프다.” The equivalent in English would be “laughring.” Okay, maybe that doesn’t work as well, but it basically means to “laugh-cry.” It’s perfect for describing your feelings in situations where you don’t know if you should laugh or cry.


어제 너무 많이 먹어서 체했어. 웃프다.
I got sick after eating too much yesterday. I want to cry and laugh at the same time.

I hope this article was another fun way for you to practice speaking Korean! Be sure to take private Korean lessons to stay sharp and learn everything you want to know about the language. Happy learning!


Post Author: Anum Yoon
Anum Yoon is an English/Korean teacher. She currently resides in Philadelphia, PA and is focused on her writing. You can learn more about her on her personal finance blog, Current on Currency.

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North Korea vs. South Korea

North Korea vs. South Korea: Language and Cultural Differences

North Korea vs. South Korea

Although Korean is the official language of both North and South Korea, there are noticeable differences in the dialect of the two nations. Here, we will examine these differences so you can gain a better overall understanding of the Korean language… 

North Korea and South Korea were originally divided across the 38th Parallel, then later, along the Demarcation line. The division, a result of the end of Japanese rule following World War II, pitted the two nations in a bitter battle. Some 70 years later, much of the rivalry and tension continues to exist.

While North Korea and South Korea both officially speak Korean, there are subtle difference between the two languages, just as there are difference between the two cultures.

Korean Vocabulary

North Korea and South Korea have markedly different cultures, and because of this, the vocabulary that they use is very different. When looking at vocabulary in terms of North Korea vs. South Korea, it should be noted that South Korean culture is far more open to adopting words and phrases from other cultures.

Seoul is the epicenter of South Korean culture, and because of this, the majority of South Korean residents speak a language based off of the Seoul dialect. A great deal of English has been introduced into common vocabulary, as well as melding in with western entertainment, which is readily available in South Korea. Japanese words and phrases have also been adopted into the South Korean dialect for the same reason.

The same is not true for North Korea. North Korea is largely insulated and its residents have limited access to culture and information from other nations. Because of this, and an overall culture of isolation, the adoption of foreign words and phrases has been largely discouraged. English words are rarely used in the North Korean language. Most residents speak the Pyongyang dialect. Chinese, Japanese, and words of western origin have been stripped from the language in recent years, and adapted words generally have Russian origins.

Korean Pronunciation

Just as people in the United States pronounce words differently based on region, the same is true with North Korea and South Korea. The combination of consonants and vowels sound different between the two languages, and it can be difficult for an individual who has learned one language to decipher the other.

When looking at North Korea vs. South Korea in terms of the spoken word, one of the most obvious pronunciation differences is that of hanja. Hanja are Chinese characters adopted by the two cultures, but they are spoken in different ways, and used in different situations.

The use of hanja is more widespread in South Korea, but hanja is used, in informal conversation, in North Korea, as well.

The Korean Alphabet

When looking at the alphabet, there is a North Korea vs. South Korea version. Both nations use hangul and jamo for their written words. Jamo is a type of character alphabet, similar to Japanese hiragana. The actual writing is different when looking at North Korea vs. South Korea. The sound and tone of each character is often different, depending on the dialect and how far removed from the Demarcation zone a person is. The tone and infliction are subtle nuances that can be difficult for beginners, but they can change the meaning of words and phrases, especially in the written word.

If you’re interested In learning more about the subtle and not-so-subtle difference between the North Korean and South Korean languages, you should take language lessons with a native Korean speaker.  A native Korean speaker is the most qualified person to teach you these differences and make sure you have a better understanding of the Korean language as a whole.

What do you find difficult or confusing about the different dialects? Let us know in the comments below!

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korean phrases

Restaurant Rescue: Essential Korean Phrases for Dining Out

korean restaurant
Eating is important in any culture, but it’s also a big part of experiencing the Korean culture. Here, Korean instructor Hannah V. teacehes you to order food, and some key phrases you may need in restaurants and eateries in Korea…

If you’re taking Korean lessons, planning a trip to Korea, or simply a Korean food enthusiast, make sure you learn these important phrases.

Understanding the different types of eateries in Korea will make it easier to order food. I will discuss expressions you can use at four different types of eateries.

1. 식당 – Eatery

In Korea, 식당 means “eatery.” These types of restaurants usually have Korean foods, along with other types of Asian foods like Korean-Chinese and Japanese. You will notice a typical 식당 has a menu on the wall, which includes the the food and the prices.

When you enter a 식당, a waiter or waitress will welcome you by saying, “어서오세요” (welcome). Usually, you can sit wherever you want. Some 식당 have different seating arrangements. There may be tables and chairs, like a typical restaurant, or you may see a raised platform or low tables and flat pillows on the floor.

If you prefer to sit at a table with chairs, you can say, “테이블로 주세요” (table, please). Sitting on a flat pillow while you eat is incredibly uncomfortable, but if you’d like to try it, you can say, “방으로 주세요” (room, please). Remember to take off your shoes if you sit on the floor. If you sit at a table with chairs, you do not have to take off your shoes.

Once you sit down, look at the menu on the wall and let the waiter know what you’d like. The waiter will bring drinking water at no extra charge. If you want a different drink, you will have to let your server know.

While you eat, you can ask for additional side dishes or water. When you’re done eating, pay your check at the front of the restaurant. They typically don’t bring the check to the table in a 식당 . In Korea, people do not leave tips. When you pay for your food, there’s no tax or tip added, so pay the exact amount you see on the menu. Nowadays, most places accept credit cards as well as cash.

Let’s practice ordering some food. Here is a typical conversation you might have at a 식당. Since the conversation is taking place between two strangers, we will use the polite form.

Waiter: 어서오세요 (welcome) 몇분이세요 (how many are in your party?)
Customer: 세명이예요 (three, please) 테이블로 주세요 (please get us a table)

Once Seated:
Waiter: 뭐 드시겠어요  (What would you like?)
Customer: 김밥 하나랑 비빔밥 둘 주세요 or 김밥 일인분하고 비빔밥 이인분 주세요 (We will have one order of Kimbob and two orders of bibimbob, please.)
Waiter:  (yes)
Waiter: 여기 있습니다 (here you are) 맛있게 드세요 (enjoy your food)
Customer:  (yes) 감사합니다 (thank you)

While Eating:
Customer: 아저씨, 여기 김치랑 물 좀 더 주세요. (Mr. would you get us more kimchi and water, please?)
Waiter:  (yes)

At the Cashier:

Customer: 다해서 얼마에요 (how much is the total?)
Waiter: 만 삼천원입니다  (it’s 13,000 won)
Customer: 신용카드 되나요  (Do you accept credit cards?)
Waiter: 네 됩니다  (Yes, I do)

After Paying:

Customer: 맛있게 먹었습니다 or 잘 먹었습니다 (It was delicious)

Other phrases you may need to know:

  • 기다리셔야합니다  (there is a wait)
  • 무엇을 주문하시겠어요?  (what would like to order?)
  • 맛있어요  (it’s delicious)
  • 배불러요  (I’m full)
  • 따로 따로 계산할수 있나요?  (can we pay separately?)
  • 내가 낼께  (it’s on me) – informal, used between friends.
  • 제가 낼께요  (it’s on me) – formal

In Korean, there are two sets of counting systems (Korean and Chinese), and the item you’re counting determines which system you use. Also, the form of the number and the particle that follows can change.

When you indicate the number of people in your party, use the Korean numbering system, 하나, , , , 다섯, 여섯, 일곱, 여덟, 아홉, , (original form of Korean numbers, 1 to 10 ). When -명 (particle that means person) is added, the original forms of the numbers change to 한명 (one person), 두명 (two people), 세명 (three people), 네명 (four people), 다섯명 (five people), 여섯명 (six people), 일곱명 (seven people), 여덟명 (eight people), 아홉명 (nine people), 열명 (10 people).

After the number of people, just add 이예요 to say it politely: “한명이예요” (one person, please).

When it comes to money, use the Chinese numbering system (, , , , , , , , , 1 to 10).

  • 일)천원 (1000 won) – is omitted
  • 이천원 (2000 won)
  • 삼천원 (3000 won)
  • 사천원 (4000 won)
  • 오천원 (5000 won)
  • 육천원 (6000 won)
  • 칠천원 (7000 won)
  • 팔천원 (8000 won)
  • 구천원 (9000 won)
  • 만원 (10,000 won)
  • 만삼천원 (13,000 won)
  • 오만원 (50,000 won)
  • 육만칠천원 (67,000 won)
  • 십만원 (100,000 won)

There are two different ways to indicate the number of orders. You can use the Chinese numbering system such as 일인분, 이인분 (one order, two orders). When the numbers are combined with 인분 (order), the numbers keep the original forms.

Informally, you can use the Korean numbering system (김밥 하나, 비빔밥 둘) and it stems from counting individual items. When the numbers are combined with (particle that means piece), some numbers modify their original forms like 한개, 두개, 세개, 네개, 다섯개, 여섯개, 일곱개, 여덟개, 아홉개, 열개 (one piece, two pieces…10 pieces).

If it’s one or two orders, you can informally say 김밥 하나, 비빔밥 둘 주세요 (one Kim-bob and two bibimbobs, please). If it’s more than three, say 비빔밥 세개 주세요 (three bibimbos, please) instead of비빔밥 셋 주세요.

Also, In some situations, you can order food by the number of pieces of food. In that case, you can use this expression: 만두 열개 주세요 (I’d like 10 pieces of Mandu (Korean meat dumplings)).

2. 레스토랑, 까페 – Restaurant / Cafe

In Korea, 레스토랑 and 까페 usually serve Western food. They bring you a menu before you order. They do not have floor seating like a 식당. Tables in a typical 레스토랑 are private. You might see curtains or walls between tables for more privacy. Many people just order drinks, and that’s OK. They may bring the check to your table, or you may have to pay at the cashier. The rest is similar to eating at a 식당.

  • 메뉴주세요  (Menu, please)
  • 계산서주세요 (check, please)
  • 금연석으로 주세요 (non-smoking seat, please)

3. 시장, 포장마차 – Market / Street Vendor

When you go to a 시장 or stop by a  포장마차, you will see the food is ready to be served and has been kept warm. All you need to say is “one order, please” and you can start eating right away. Some establishments have a place to sit, but some may not. Markets and street vendors are generally pretty inexpensive.
You may see a menu displayed, but you may not. If you don’t see a menu, you can ask the vendor and learn the name of the food and the price. Also, the foods are generally ordered “to-go”.

  • 이거 뭐예요  (what is this?) – ask as you point to the food
  • 떡뽁기이예요 (it is) 떡뽁기 – a typical Korean street food: spicy rice cake with fish cake and veggies
  • 얼마에요?  (how much is it?)
  • 삼천원이예요  (it is 3000 won)
  • 일인분주세요  (I’d like one order, please)
  • 여기서 드실꺼예요? (Would you like to eat here)
  • = Yes, 아니요 (No)
  • 싸 드릴까요? (is it to go?)
  • 싸 주세요 (it is to go)

4. Fast Food Restaurants

Fast food restaurants in Korea are very similar to fast food restaurants in other countries. You walk up to the cashier, order your food, and get your receipt with a number. When your number is called, the food is ready.

You should learn to order by item number: “일번 주세요” (I’ll have the number one). In this case, use the Chinese numbering system (, , , , 오 육, 칠, 팔, , , 1 to 10). After the number, just add 번 주세요.

The names of soft drinks are a little different in Korea:

  • 콜라 (Coke or Pepsi)
  • 사이다 (Sprite or 7Up)
  • 환타 (Fanta)

Armed with these phrases, you should feel confident eating at various types of Korean restaurants. Next  time you go out to eat Korean food, take advantage of the opportunity to practice your Korean-language skills.

To learn more helpful Korean phrases, sign up for lessons with a private language instructor. 

Hannah V TakeLessons.com Teacher
Post Author:
 Hannah V.
Hannah is a Korean instructor in Paradise Valley, AZ. A native Korean speaker, she earned her Master’s degree from the University of Texas in Austin. Learn more about Hannah here!


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korean idioms

Words of Wisdom: 10 Well-Known Korean Idioms

korean idioms

Every language has certain expressions that have deeper meanings. When you’re taking Korean lessons, it can be fun to learn these Korean expressions. Here, Paradise Valley, AZ teacher Hannah V. teaches you 10 Korean idioms…

Idioms are both puzzling and interesting, and sometimes even profound. Read on to find out the true meaning behind 10 well-known Korean idioms.

korean idioms

쏜: Shot, 살: Abbreviation of 화살 (arrow), 같이: Like

This Korean phrase means that someone or something is super fast. If someone can run like an arrow, he or she must be really fast!

Example: 그는 쏜살같이 달렸다 “- He ran super fast”.

korean idioms

바람: Wind, 을: Particle for the object, 맞다 Run into / get / get beaten up. 비맞다 Means “get rained on”

Despite the literal translation, this phrase actually means to get stood up (usually on a date).

Example: 그녀는 바람 맞았다  –  “She was stood up”.

korean idioms

고슴도치: Porcupine, 도: Also, 자기: His or her, 새끼: Offspring,  는: Particle for the subject, 예쁘다: Pretty

Note: 새끼 is used for animals’ offspring, so be careful not to use this word if you’re referring to a human baby.

Most parents can probably relate to the true meaning of this Korean idiom: Every parent thinks his or her baby is pretty.

korean idioms

그림의: On a painting, 떡: Korean rice cake

This phrase refers to something that you want but can’t have, usually because you can’t afford it.

Example: 이 롤렉스 시계는 그림의 떡이다 – “I can’t afford this Rolex (but I want it).”

korean idioms

시작: Initiative, 이: Particle for the subject, 반이다: Half

The literal translation for this Korean idiom is pretty close to the real meaning: When you want to accomplish something, taking the initiative is a big step.

korean idioms

눈: Eye(s), 코: Nose, 뜰새: Time to open 없다: Do not have

This Korean expression means that the subject is extremely busy (hence he doesn’t have time to open his eyes and nose).

Example: 나는 눈코 뜰새 없이 바쁘다 – “I am extremely busy”.

korean idioms

바가지: A Korean bowl  쓰다: Put (something) on (head or face)

Note: 쓰다  is only used for clothing that goes on one’s head or face (like a hat or mask).

This phrase actually means to get cheated on a price, to get ripped off, or pay for an overpriced item.

Example: 나는 해변가에서 바가지 썼다 – “I got ripped off at the beach”.

korean idioms

귀: Ear(s), 빠진: Pulled out, 날: Day

This Korean idiom essentially means your birthday (when you were born, you were pushed out of your mother’s womb, including your ears).

Example: 오늘은 귀 빠진날이다 – “today is (my) birthday”.

korean idioms

개천: Stream, 에서: at (in) 용: Dragon, 났다: Was born

This expression refers to someone from a small town with an ordinary background, who has had great success. In Korea, has a positive meaning. When it’s used to refer to a person, it implies that he or she is extremely successful.

korean idioms

혼자서: Oneself, 북: Drum, 치고: play and 장구: Korean double drum 친다: Play

This expression refers to someone who tries to do everything by himself. It has a negative connotation because it implies that that he or she doesn’t care about other peoples’ opinions. It’s difficult to imagine someone actually playing both instruments at the same time because you would need more than two hands.

If someone tries to do this, he or she must like to work alone.

Do any of these Korean idioms remind you of expressions you’ve heard in English? Share them in the comments below.

Want to learn more Korean phrases? Sign up for Korean lessons today! 

Hannah V TakeLessons.com Teacher
Post Author:
 Hannah V.
Hannah is a Korean instructor in Paradise Valley, AZ. A native Korean speaker, she also holds a Master’s degree from the University of Texas in Austin. Learn more about Hannah here!


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Korean holidays

Mark Your Calendar: 20 Korean Holidays

Korean holidays

When you’re studying Korean, it’s fun to learn about various Korean holidays. Mark your calendar, here are the major (and minor) Korean holidays.

Along with the national holidays, in South Korea, the 14th of each month is a fun, unofficial holiday. Read on for a list of all the holidays and celebrations!

Diary Day

January 14th

At the beginning of the new year, it’s customary for friends and loved ones to trade diaries, journals, and planners. Friends and family members write down important dates, occasions, birthdays, and anniversaries.

Seollal – Korean New Year

February (January 1st on the Lunar Calendar)

The Korean New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, coincides with  the Chinese New Year, and is considered more important than the New Year’s Day on the Gregorian calendar.

Koreans spend these three days with food, gatherings, festivities, parades, and fireworks. Most people take this time off and travel back home to be with loved ones.

Valentine’s Day

February 14th

On Valentine’s Day in South Korea, women give men chocolate as a sign of affection. Generally, men will reciprocate this gift and give women chocolate on White Day (March 14th).

Commercial holidays or not, Valentine’s Day and White Day are (literally) very sweet holidays in South Korea.

Samiljeol – Independence Movement Day

March 1st

On this day in 1919, Korean nationalists and students resisted and protested Japan’s occupation of Korea.

This prompted a nationwide civil protest and is considered the beginning of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea.

Black Day

April 14th

Another 14th holiday, on Black Day singles “celebrate” their lack of a serious relationship.

Single friends come together to eat jajangmyeon (black noodles), and wish each other luck in finding that special someone in the coming year.

Eorininal – Children’s Day

May 5th

On this special day, Koreans celebrate their children with parades, pageants, martial arts demonstrations, and other special events.

Yellow Day / Rose Day

May 14th

Another opportunity to celebrate love, on Yellow Day, couples wear yellow and exchange bouquets of roses.

Hyeonchung-il  – Memorial Day

June 6th

Koreans honor the men and women who died  either serving in the military, or during the independence movement.  A commemoration ceremony is held at the Seoul National Cemetery.

Kiss Day

June 14th

This one is pretty self explanatory, but Kiss Day is also a good time to confess your feelings for a crush.

If you haven’t noticed by now, most of the 14th holidays are love and couples celebrations.

Silver Day

July 14th

Couples who plan to marry exchange silver rings (similar to promise rings). Many couples also choose to introduce their significant other to their parents on Silver Day.

Jeheonjeol – Constitution Day

July 17th

On this day in 1948, the Korean constitution was progmulated.  The anniversary is celebrated each year with citizens flying their nation’s flag, a ceremony with the president and other political figures in attendance, as well as other activities, such as marathons and parades.

Green Day

August 14th

This day is all about drinking soju (which comes in a green bottle), and taking a romantic stroll in the woods with your significant other.

Gwangbokjeol  – Liberation Day

August 15th

Gwangbok means “restoration of light,” which is fitting for this anniversary of the liberation of Korea from the Empire of Japan in 1945.

Photo / Music Day

September 14th

Another one that’s self explanatory, this unofficial holiday is mainly for couples to take photos and enjoy music together.

Chuseok  – Korean Thanksgiving Day

September 17th – 19th

During this three-day celebration, families gather together to share food and to give thanks for both their ancestors and an abundant harvest.

Hangul Day

October 9th

Hangul Day celebrates the invention (which happened in the year 1443) and proclamation (1446) of the native alphabet of Korean language.

The inventor of the hangul alphabet, King Sejong the Great, is considered one of the most honored rulers in Korean history.

Wine Day

October 14th

Spread some love and share some wine!

Movie Day

November 14th

This isn’t just a normal movie night. In South Korea, you can rent a movie room and watch a romantic comedy with your significant other or a small group of people.

Hug Day

December 14th

Reach out and hug someone!

Christmas Day

December 25th

Although only about 30 percent of Koreans identify as Christian, Christmas Day is still celebrated nationwide as the country embraces the Western traditions of card exchanges, decorations, and gift giving.

Korean holidays

With the unofficial 14th holidays each month, there’s always something to celebrate. So whether you’re taking Korean lessons or you’re just interested in learning about Korean culture, keep this calendar handy and let the celebrations begin!

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Photo by Republic of Korea

Korean food blogs

Bring Your Appetite: The Top 9 Korean Food Blogs

Korean food blogs

Learning a new language isn’t just about memorizing grammar rules, it’s also about tickling your taste buds and sampling some amazing new foods. So as you’re taking Korean lessons, let these Korean food blogs be your guide as you treat yourself to some delightful Korean delicacies.

Koreans are foodies, and it shows in their diverse cuisine. It’s an excellent food culture to explore, and it features everything from traditional dishes, Korean BBQ, and street food favorites like the giant ice cream cone.

When you visit Korea,  you will have all sorts of new foods to explore. But you don’t need to wait until you visit Korea to try the delicious food. These 10 Korean food blogs will teach you everything you need to know about Korean food, and teach you how to make some of the delicious dishes at home.

1. Seoul Eats

best Korean food blogs

Find interviews, restaurant reviews, travel tales, and more on this delightful blog written by Daniel Gray.

Daniel guides you through the more traditional customs, teaches you to eat “abnormal delicacies,” and gives you information about wonderful culinary tours in Korea, including his own.

2. ZenKimchi

Korean food blogs

ZenKimchi has become a monster of a resource. The website has all the information you need on the best, highly-rated food tours.

The journal also provides the ultimate restaurant guide, a food calendar, and an extensive list of places to find cheap eats.

3. My Korean Kitchen

Korean food blogs


Check out My Korean Kitchen to see Sue’s amazing photography as she gives you a visual tour of the food of Korea.

Find recipes, products, restaurant reviews, and tips for living in Korea.

4. Seoul in the City

korean food blogs

Seoul in the City is an adventure to find Korean food (and other cuisines) in a variety of cities. Seoul is on the list, but when you’re in the states, there are some solid restaurant recommendations as well.

It’s a lovely blog about a girl who loves Asian food, with a strong focus on the best in Korean cuisine.

5. Seoulistic

Korean food blogs

You’ll love Seoulistic for many reasons. Sure, you can find plenty of info on where to eat and unique food spots in Korea, but you’ll also find lots of fun articles about Korean culture.

6. Aeri’s Kitchen

Korean food blogs

Aeri loves to cook. She’ll introduce you to some delicious Korean foods, and she’ll even teach you a little Korean.

With Aeri’s guidance, and her warm personality, you will learn about lots of different Korean foods, and you’ll even learn how to make some of the dishes on your own.

7. Easy Korean Food


With easy-to-follow recipes, Easy Korean Food lets you enjoy delicious Korean dishes whenever you want.

Whether you’re looking for a Korean BBQ recipe or a decadent dessert, learn to make signature Korean dishes in your own kitchen at home.

8. Maangchi

Korean food blogs

Maangchi developed a community of dedicated Korean food lovers. Find information about cooking and preparing Korean food, and participate in an active forum of restaurant owners, novice and professional chefs, and foodies from around the world.

9. EatYourKimchi

Korean food blogs

Bloggers Simon and Martina will entertain you with their videos that document their adventures in Korea.

Learn about traveling in Korea, the Korean culture and lifestyle, and of course, the food!

The food of Korea is as diverse as the culture. Exploring Korean food is the most flavorful way to learn the language, customs, and all about the people who live in Korea. Check out these Korean food blogs to discover an array of delightful dishes and delicacies.

Which Korean dishes are your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

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Tying the Knot Around the World: 4 Unique Korean Wedding Traditions

5 Unique Korean Wedding Traditions

Have you ever wondered about wedding traditions from other countries or cultures? Maybe you’re learning Korean and it piqued your interest in worldly affairs. In this article, you’ll learn about neat traditions practiced for Korean weddings…

While Korean wedding traditions are both unique and interesting, not all couples choose to incorporate these rituals in their wedding day. In fact, Korean superstar Lee Na-Young got married in May of 2015, and she clutched a small bouquet and wore a long white gown during the simple outdoor ceremony. Her new husband, fellow actor Won Bin, complemented her modern look in a tailored suit with white flowers in the front pocket. Western wedding traditions have gone global, and even South Korea has adopted some of these wedding day rituals.

Today, most Korean couples follow this famous couples’ lead and plan westernized wedding ceremonies that have more in common with Hollywood movies than ancient Korean rituals. Some couples, however, choose to incorporate older Korean rituals into their special day.

From pre-wedding events to ceremony rituals, here are four unique Korean wedding traditions.


Eui hon (matchmaking) is an old Korean engagement tradition, and may not be as common in Korea as it was in the past. In 2014, however, there were 2,500 matchmaking companies in Korea.

Professional matchmaking in Korea is generally based on education level, social status, and family lineage. Before the potential bride and groom meet in person, the matchmaker introduces the families and introduces the parents to the potential mates.

If all goes well, the groom’s family sends a marriage proposal to the bride’s family. The bride’s family can approve or deny this proposal on their daughter’s behalf.


Hanbok refers to a traditional Korean clothing style that men and women have worn for more than two thousand years. Silk, simple lines, bright colors, and high collars are common characteristics of this festive fashion tradition, which almost always includes long sleeves and a sash around the waist.

Today, hanbok is shorthand for the custom-made costumes that Korean women wear on very special occasions. These colorful tops and full-bodied skirts are usually reserved for weddings or national holidays.

Though white wedding dresses are now much more common than ceremonial hanbok, many Korean brides pay homage to their heritage by incorporating this traditional dress in their wedding day activities. Some slip into their hanbok to pose for photos after the wedding. Others wear a hanbok for a smaller, separate ceremony on another day.

When a South Korean man or woman marries a partner from a Western country, like the United States or United Kingdom, hanbok allows them to integrate both cultures in their ceremony. Hanbok is also a stylish but nostalgic nod to the union of past and present; if the bride and groom wear a gown and tuxedo, their parents might choose to wear hanbok and white gloves to honor their roots.


Modern wedding traditions usually focus on the bride and groom, but in South Korea, family still plays a central role in weddings. The pyebaek is the best example of this. Originally, the pyebaek was a patriarchal tradition that officially integrated the bride into the groom’s family. She would bestow gifts upon her future in-laws and ultimately bow in subservience as she left her family for theirs.

Today, the pyebaek celebrates the union of both families. This family ritual is one of the most popular remnants of ancient Korean wedding traditions, and some original elements remain. For example, the bride still presents the groom’s family with a gift of Korean dates and chestnuts, which symbolizes fertility. The bride and groom also wear hanbok as they bow to their families in unison, a gesture of gratitude and respect.

Though the pyebaek began as a long, pre-wedding ritual, modern couples often hold their pyebaek immediately after the wedding. During this small, private ritual, the parents share advice for married life and accept gifts of wine.


During the marriage ceremony, the groom gives his mother-in-law kireogi (wooden geese/Korean wedding ducks). The kireogi symbolizes structure and harmony, keeping the same partner for life, and leaving a great legacy.

A Note on Gifts

The gift registry is one Western staple that still hasn’t found a place in Korean wedding traditions. Instead, the vast majority of modern Korean couples receive cash in special envelopes. Because odd numbers are associated with good luck, many guests make sure they give an amount that begins with an odd number, such as 50,000 or 90,000 won.

Koreans don’t always incorporate ancient traditions in their weddings, however, ceremonial clothes and gifts are still popular ways to honor Korea’s past on this special occasion. Nowadays, Westernized weddings are becoming more prominent while ancient Korean traditions still remain preserved. I hope you had fun learning about Korean wedding traditions!

Want to learn more about Korean culture and language? Sign up for Korean lessons with a private tutor, today! 

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