Korean Language Journey! (So Far)

November 15, 2017

This is basically the answer to anyone who has ever wondered, "Why Korean?"


안녕하세요, 그레이스 입니다! And unfortunately, my Korean is not good enough for me to mostly use it to write this post :(

I started learning Korean in the Summer of 2015. Yes, Korean music gave me a sort of exposure to the language, but it wasn't that that made me interested in learning it.

When you watch a couple of Korean music videos on YouTube, you also get all sorts of recommendations to other Korean-related things like foreigners who live there and even the language.

At that time, I was eager to learn another language, particularly an East Asian one. After watching a few videos on how some foreigners were learning Korean, I decided to give Korean a try. And in order to learn Korean, you need to start with the alphabet, 한글 (hangul). 

Image is not mine! Also, isn't it so pretty?

I used Korean class 101 on YouTube (after finding out how easy the Korean writing system was!) and though the lessons were grand, it was pretty incomplete. It didn't have lessons for the double consonants or even dipthongs (the last I learned through sweetandtastytv)!

I kinda spent around 2 months... maybe even more, because it definitely takes a while to get used to! I had to keep referring back to my notes. (This might seem long compared to others who have stated that they learned it in an hour, a day, a couple of days, but I don't actually believe them. When I mean learn Korean, I mean know how to use it with very little urge to check your notes to see if you used the right vowel, consonant or even dipthong and you would also know how to form Korean words well). However, I managed to learn it and was so happy when I learned how to write 안녕하세요 (an-yeong-haseyo), which is hello in Korean, if you're unfamiliar with the language.

Even though I was a super beginner, I would get a little worried about sounding fluent... I wanted to sound like those foreigners who spoke Korean like Korean people, for example, Sam Okyere, who is a Ghanaian entertainer in Korean. When I first found out about him by reading a YouTube comment, I looked him up and was so impressed by his Korean speaking ability. Especially since he was African! A person like me! (Also, I don't only like him because of how well he speaks Korean and how he integrated into society so well... he's just an awesome guy, seriously.)


There are also other foreign people in Korean who speak Korean pretty darn well, but I'll get to them later.

I decided to learn the Korean numbers after hangul, because I heard that Korean has two sets of numbers. The Sino (Chinese number) numbers and the Native Korean numbers. If I have to be honest, I still haven't finished learning the numbers yet. They're kinda tricky though the Sino number system is grand.

After that, I believe I started to learn the pronouns. I knew that Koreans don't use pronouns as often as English speakers do in their language, but I still felt the need to learn them. After that, I started to learn grammar on the website howtostudykorean.com! The title is pretty obvious but they have so many great lessons and it's mostly free! And yet it's so so underrated. Can you imagine? 

When I started Unit 1 Lesson 1, it took me a long time. There was so much information that it overwhelmed me and I had to take so many freaking notes! (Though now I am fully aware that I should've been a bit pickier with choosing which notes to take down...)

The amount I had to learn kinda scared me so I think I didn't use the site again until... 2016? And now it's 2017 and I'm only on Lesson 5. Though this time I used different resources. (I actually have enough resources to become intermediate. *sighs*)

studying dream high GIF

In 2016, I took a break from studying properly (though I took down vocabulary from time to time) and I watched quite a lot of Korean variety shows and chatting to Natives through HelloTalk (though a lot of conversations could not progress partly because my Korean was/is so limited and a lot of people simply left the app). 

I started watching Kdramas (super cheesy but good with a dose of slooow burn romance. And they're pretty clean in comparison to a lot of Western television. Well, probably depending on the drama you watch. I started off with School 2015 after seeing one of the actresses getting a lot of hate in a music video for playing the bully. Yeah, the drama was about bullying so it obviously made me cry). I also loved the characters! Especially the ginger haired guy! So funny! 

sungjae GIF

(Before that, I watched a mini drama though I watched a mini drama before that the year before. It's a bit complicated. I didn't get to finish it, though. Until 2016! I have mostly watched mini kdramas). My favourite kdramas are My Love From Another Star, Moorim School and She Was Pretty. I recommend them. Though I also recommend checking out the old-school drama Boys over Flowers. It's so cheesy and cringey but I really enjoyed it and it made me cry a couple of times. Weird how cheesy dramas can make me cry but books hardly do... 

benihime99 GIF

school GIF

irrational man GIF

Fast forward to 2017... and I started taking Korean learning a lot more seriously! I watched a lot more videos on YouTube about how people were studying Korean and how they learned so quickly. Seeing them getting to intermediate stage in about 1-2 years really made me think about how slow I was learning. Though I'm not the fastest learner, I'm definitely not supposed to be this slow, either. I started using howtostudykorean a lot more and tried other apps and websites. I watched more foreigners who spoke Korean and added English subtitles to their videos. Here are a few that I watch pretty regularly:

World of Dave


                                      Project Jangmin. 

She doesn't speak English but I believe her friend Dave (listed above) writes the subtitles.

I hope any Korean learners out there find these helpful!

Now... as for the things I'm struggling with...

1. Writing and understanding long numbers 100,00 and beyond....

2. Simply writing sentences. Yes, I'm still learning this...

3. Conjugation. I'm currently learning this. Though it's way easier to conjugate in Korean than in Spanish, there are about three different ways to speak to someone in Korean. Super Formal, Formal (a person one year older than you and older)  and Informal (look this ish up if you want to learn about it properly). 

4. Vocabulary

5. Being a consistent learner *sigh*

Things I want to use to help:

1. Watch inspiring videos of people writing or speaking Korean to increase motivation

2. Use the ladder technique to translate stuff into Korean. My first language is English my (technically) second is Spanish and my third is Korean. I will try and translate Spanish using English and Spanish for Korean e.g. writing down the meaning of a certain word in Korean and Spanish, rather than Korean and English. It kinda helps though it will take a while to get used to!

3. Reading the stories of Korean learners on the language blog Hanguk Drama and Korean. Find the first post of the series here

4. I joined a Korean learning group chat. I want to get to their level. Their Korean is so good...

5. Force of will. You simply have to make yourself sometimes.

Now... for my precious resources (which are also all legal AND free. What?!)....


howtostudykorean.com - for mainly grammar, though they also have a good source of vocabulary. It explains grammar in such detail so please don't be put off by it at first! 

sejonghakdang.org - named after King Sejong who invented hangul (thank you sir!). Has online workbooks, webtoons, videos about the culture and others! 

linguti - this website is honestly so slow but many people don't know about it so I can't really get annoyed about that. It taught me how to write sentences quicker than my other resources!

learnwitholiver - shows flashcards of words. Also has words written in their correct context so that's pretty awesome.

Apps (I use an android phone if you wanted to know):

Not Duolingo... I use lingodeer instead. The sentences are much more realistic.

Naver Dictionary is the only dictionary I can fully trust when
it comes to translating Korean words.

Tinycards is a cute flashcard app.



Korean Unnie

Talk To Me in Korean (they also have a website as well! But I need to sleep, man. Let me skip this one just for once!)

Korean Language Community

Motivate Korean

Conversational Korean

Minji Teaches Korean

Let's Do Korean...

...and etc. There are simply too many for me to list. I will make another post for resources if anybody wants one and also if I try out new ones.

다음에 봐요! See you next time!

So... any questions (that also includes whether the resources I've listed still work)? Are you also learning Korean or an Asian language?

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  1. I'm a French major in college right now, so while French is very very different than Korean, I relate to the struggle of simply trying to learn another language, especially on your own. Kudos to you, keep it up! :)

    1. Yes, it's so difficult :(( But I do enjoy it.

      Thank you! Also, where is your blog?

    2. Oh yeah I changed my blog address. :P But it looks like you figured it out!

  2. Korean sounds like a cool language to learn, but it also looks hard!

    What really gets me is handwriting those words, that looks difficult. O_O

    1. Yeah, that basically sums it up xD

      Yes :( The writing system alone is relatively easy but forming words you just heard... that's hard xD

  3. THat's so cool that you're learning Korean though! I think learning on your own is probably more challenging than being taught at school/ listening to people around you speak it. Do you know many Korean people in real life? I knew how to say hello because there were heaps of korean people at my school, and I have one quite good friend who is Korean.
    I can speak Hindi ok, which is a south asian language. Like you, I struggle with the formal/informal versions of words (I never know which ones to use) and also gendered nouns. I literally know 0 genders of nouns and I mess up the verbs most of the time. My grammar is pretty bad and my spelling is atrocious and my reading is really slow, but I'm glad I can understand people and get my meaning across. :)

    1. Haha, I get that quite a bit xD

      It is, but I guess I have to since the only way to do Korean lessons in school is to move to Cork. Sure, Trinity College have a course but it's on after school and I don't have time for that!

      No, I don't know many Korean people. So practicing is a little hard :/ Though, there is one Korean person in my class.

      It's interesting that you know how to say hello.

      At least you know Hindi! (I obviously don't know it but I have watched cooking videos on YouTube by Indian people and the language seems pretty cool. At least I ASSUME they're speaking hindi.)

  4. Wow, good for you for working so hard at learning another language! I'm being really terrible with my French as of late, mostly because learning another language is hard? Asian languages scare me, though, mostly because of the different alphabet.

    1. Thanks xD

      It really is! Sometimes I even forget how fun learning because of how I struggle with learning!

      Yeah, they are seriously intimidating xD

  5. This was so interesting!! Especially the video on the different pronunciations; languages are so fascinating, aren't they?

    And congratulations to you on learning a new language! No matter how fast you're learning, the fact of sticking with it and making yourself do it is pretty cool. :)


    1. Thanks, this was one of my favourite posts. :))

      UGH, I know, right? I just really enjoy them.

      Thanks again. It's always great to have someone cheering you on.


Keep it all clean, man. Well, if you really wanna curse, use minor swear words. And I mean the minorest of minor ones.

"Or what?" you ask in indignation.

"Or else."