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Best Korean TV Shows to Learn Korean

When it comes to learning a language, everyone wants to know what the best way to learn that language quickly is. It’s the same for our Korean learners; they want to know how to study the Korean language effectively. Here, we’re going to give you some tips on how to do this—namely through watching the best Korean variety shows.

Watching Korean TV shows can be a very useful supplement for Korean learners because some of the TV shows are very entertaining, and will give you opportunity to learn phrases that are commonly used in Korea. Moreover, watching TV shows with subtitles in Korean will certainly help you improve your vocabulary and your ability to understand the language. Today, KoreanClass101 will introduce ten famous Korean TV shows to help you learn Korean effectively.

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Table of Contents

  1. Benefits of Watching Korean TV Shows
  2. How to Practice Korean While Watching Korean TV Shows
  3. 10 Korean Variety Show Recommendations
  4. How to Study the Korean Language with KoreanClass101

1. Benefits of Watching Korean TV Shows

So, what are the benefits of watching Korean TV shows? If you’re a Korean language learner, it may be challenging for you to learn Korean by watching Korean variety shows, therefore it’s strongly recommended to learn from basic Hangul and learn how combinations of different consonants and vowels make the sounds. Start off by studying basic Hangul and slowly move onto learning other basic expressions such as self-introductions. If you’re an intermediate learner, you’ll find that Korean TV shows are a great source to use to practice speaking, reading, and listening. Also:

  • It’s entertaining and is one of the best ways to learn Korean.

Each South Korean TV show has its unique style. Therefore, depending on your interests, you can improve your vocabularies and expressions from TV shows. For example, if you want to understand how Koreans tease each other and want to learn more about Korean humor, watching Radio Star may help you meet your goals.

Also, the expressions that you learn in school may not be used in daily life in Korea, so if you want to learn “Real Korean Language” including slang words (e.g.일욜 or “shorten words for Sunday”), then the Korean reality show called 나 혼자 산다 (na honja sanda) or “I Live Alone” may help you understand how Koreans express themselves in daily life.

  • You’ll stay in touch with the trends in Korea.

South Korean TV shows always invite various celebrities, from singers, actors/actresses, comedians, and even Hollywood celebrities! For example, when a new film is released, you’ll most likely see celebrities from that film in these popular Korean variety shows. If you watch Korean TV shows, you’ll definitely be in touch with the most current trends.

2. How to Practice Korean While Watching Korean TV Shows

Everyone has their own techniques for studying Korean. Here are some of the most popular methods:

  1. Write down words or expressions that you don’t understand.
  2. Practice speaking and pronunciation repetitively.
  3. Replay the show, but focus on mimicking the words and annotations.

And so on. There are more techniques that you can help you learn Korean effectively and efficiently. If you have your own Language Learning Strategies, they’ll certainly help you study smarter and faster than others.

Let’s take a look at our list of famous South Korean TV shows. We’ve prepared a brief explanation of each TV show; if you’re interested to know even more details, click on the title of the show, and it will direct you to the Wikipedia page.

3. 10 Korean Variety Show Recommendations

So what are the most famous variety shows in Korea? We looked at Korean variety show ratings and now we’re going to introduce ten famous Korean TV series to help you learn Korean!

1- 라디오 스타 (radio seuta) — “Radio Star”

Radio Star

Korean TV show information:
Period: 5/30/2007 ~ present (as of 2019)
Channel: MBC

Why should you watch this Korean series?
Radio Star is a South Korean talk show hosted by Kim Gook-Jin, Yoon Jong-Shin, Kim Gura, and Cha Tae-hyun. The first episode aired on the 30th of May, 2007. Radio Star invites four to six guests every week for the talk show, and most of the time the hosts ask difficult questions that cause panic in the guests. Guests are aware of this, so they usually answer the questions in a humorous way, which is the whole point of this talk show.

Due to the nature of the talk show, top celebrities aren’t fond of being featured here. However, some less-famous celebrities became extremely popular after showing up on this Korean TV show because of their sense of humor, as well as their interesting and personal stories.

Korean TV show website: https://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/ent/goldfish/
YouTube video: Do you want to watch just a little bit of the show? You can watch some videos here.

Korean phrases and quotes:

  • 알아서 좋은 인연이 들어와요. (araseo joeun inyeoni deureowayo.)
    • “A good relationship will naturally come to you.”
  • 내가 번 돈 내가 안 쓰면 누가 꼭 쓴다. (naega beon don naega an sseumyeon nuga kkok sseunda.)
    • “If I don’t spend my own money, someone else will spend it all.”
  • 큰 일보다는 사소한 일에 신경을 많이 써라. (keunil bodaneun sasohan ire singyeongeul mani sseora.)
    • “Pay attention to small things not only to big things.”

Must-know Korean vocabularies:

  • 좋은 인연 (joeun inyeon) : “a good relationship”
  • 들어오다 (deureooda): “to come in”
  • 안 쓰다 (an sseuda) : opposite meaning of 쓰다 (sseuda) meaning “to use”
  • 번 돈 (beon don): “money earned by hard working”
  • …보다는 (…bodaneun): “…rather than”
  • 사소한 일 (sasohan il): “a mere trifle”
  • 신경 쓰다 (singyeong sseuda): “to show concern”
  • 많이 (mani): “much; lots; plenty”

2- 나 혼자 산다 (na honja sanda) — “I Live Alone”

I Live Alone

Korean TV show information:
Period: 3/22/2013 ~ present (as of 2019)
Channel: MBC

Why should you watch this Korean series?
It’s a South Korean television entertainment program aired every Friday from 11:10 pm to 12:50 am. I Live Alone broadcasts famous celebrities’ everyday lives, such as what they do and eat at home and their daily schedule including who they meet and so on. You’ll be surprised to see how transparent they are, and eventually you’ll come to realize that even the lives of famous celebrities are somewhat similar to our own. What makes this TV show popular in South Korea is that we can really relate to some of the personal troubles that these famous celebrities go through (e.g. dealing with debts, the death of a beloved pet, etc.).

Korean TV show website: https://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/ent/singlelife/index.html
YouTube video: Do you want to watch just a little bit of the show? You can watch some videos here.

Korean phrases and quotes:

  • 클락션은 싸움만 만들 뿐. (keullaksyeoneun ssaumman mandeul ppun.)
    • “You will most likely end up in a fight when you honk too much.”
  • 욕심이 많아지면 행복하자는 소원을 빈다. (yoksimi manajimyeon haengbokajaneun sowoneul binda.)
    • “When you become greedy, you end up making a wish to be happy.”
  • 초심을 잃지 말자. (chosimeul ilchi malja.)
    • “Let’s not forget our humble beginnings.”

Must-know Korean vocabularies:

  • 클락션 (keullaksyeon): “Honk; Klaxon”
  • 싸움 (ssaum): “fight”
  • 만들다 (mandeulda): “to make”
  • 욕심 (yoksim): “greed”
  • 많아지면 (manajimyeon): “to pile up”
  • 소원을 빌다 (sowoneul bilda): “make a wish”
  • 초심 (chosim): “one’s first intention”
  • 잃다 (ilta): “to lose”

3- 런닝맨 (reonningmaen) — “Running Man”

Running Man

Korean TV show information:
Period: 7/11/2010 ~ present (as of 2019)
Channel: SBS

Why should you watch this Korean series?
Running Man is an SBS Korean variety show, and is one of the longest-running Korean game shows in South Korea. The rule of the game is that Running Man contestants wear a nametag on their back while playing the game. Their main goal is to take off all the contestants’ nametags until one person is left. It may sound easy, but it’s not, because contestants also need to perform various tasks in order to win the game and sometimes you have no choice but to betray your own team. This survival game is very addictive and entertaining! Also, it’s a Korean variety show that invites and features a lot of idols from all over the world.

Korean TV show website: https://programs.sbs.co.kr/enter/runningman/
YouTube video: Do you want to watch just a little bit of the show? You can watch some videos here.

Korean phrases and quotes:

  • 포기하는 거야, 지금? 뭐가 그렇게 무섭다고 도전을 안해 (pogihaneun geoya, jigeum? mwoga geureoke museopdago dojeoneul anhae)
    • “Are you giving up, now? Why are you not even challenging yourself.”
  • 카메라 앞에서는 무엇을 해도 용서가 되지만 카메라가 꺼졌을 때에도 똑같이 행동하면 안된다 (kamera apeseoneun mueoseul haedo yongseoga doejiman kameraga kkeojyeosseul ttaeedo ttokgachi haengdonghamyeon andoenda)
    • “Whatever you do in front of the camera, you will be forgiven, but you should not act the same when the camera is turned off.”

Must-know Korean vocabularies:

  • 포기 (pogi): “give up”
  • 무섭다 (museopda): “scared”
  • 도전 (dojeon): “challenge”
  • 용서 (yongseo): “forgiveness”
  • 행동 (haengdong): “behavior”

4- 대국민 토크쇼 안녕하세요 (daegungmin tokeusyo annyeonghaseyo) — “Hello Counselor”

Hello Counselor

Korean TV show information:
Period: 11/20/2010 ~ present (as of 2019)
Channel: KBS2

Why should you watch this Korean series?
대국민 토크쇼 안녕하세요 (“Hello Counselor”) aims to help people take down communication barriers by sharing their personal life stories. The hosts try to evaluate the situation that a person’s going through and give advice. The hosts and guests try to do this is the most humorous way possible. At the end of the show, people on the stage vote on whether the problem which was addressed is severe and needs some “real” help or not. This Korean TV show invites many idols and famous celebrities, too.

Korean TV show website: https://program.kbs.co.kr/2tv/enter/hello/pc/
YouTube video: Do you want to watch just a little bit of the show? You can watch some videos here.

Korean phrases and quotes:

  • 여러분의 말 못할 고민을 응원해 드립니다. (yeoreobunui mal mothal gomineul eungwonhae deurimnida.)
    • “We will support your worries.”
  • 육아는 도와주는 게 아니라 같이 하는 것. (yuganeun dowajuneun ge anira gachi haneun geot.)
    • “Parenting is not helping, it is doing together.”

Must-know Korean vocabularies:

  • 여러분 (yeoreobun): “everybody”
  • 말 못할 (mal mothal): “something that you cannot say to people”
  • 고민 (gomin): “worries”
  • 응원 (eungwon): “cheering”
  • 육아 (yuga): “infant care”
  • 도와주다 (dowajuda): “to support”
  • 같이 하는 것 (gachi haneun geot): “to do things together”

5- 언프리티 랩스타 (Eonpeuriti Raepseuta) — “Unpretty Rapstar”

Unpretty Rapstar

Korean TV show information:
Period:1/29/2015 ~ present (as of 2019)
Channel: Mnet

What is it about?: 언프리티 랩스타 (Eonpeuriti Raepseuta) or “Unpretty Rapstar” is a rap competition reality show in South Korea, featuring only female rappers. One thing about this show that’s interesting is that in the first few episodes, show contestants introduce themselves through the same beat. Contestants need to win missions such as stage performance or “do diss” battle, in which contestants battle one-on-one with another rapper. This Korean competition TV show was famous already, but it became even more popular after the appearance of Jessi.

Korean TV show website: https://mnettv.interest.me/unprettyrapstar3/main
YouTube video: Do you want to watch just a little bit of the show? You can watch some videos here.

Korean phrases and quotes:

  • 너희가 뭔데 날 판단해? (neohuiga mwonde nal pandanhae?)
    • “Who are you to judge me?”
  • 각오 단단히 하고 나와라 아님 나 못이길테니까. (gago dandanhi hago nawara anim na mosigiltenikka.)
    • “Brace yourselves, everybody or you will not win me.”
  • 우린 팀이 아니야 이건 경쟁이야 (urin timi aniya igeon gyeongjaengiya)
    • “We are not a team. This is a competition.”

Must-know Korean vocabularies:

  • 우린 (urin): “we are”
  • 판단하다 (pandanhada): “judge”
  • 각오 (gago): “determination”
  • 아님 (anim): short for 아니다 (anida) or “not”
  • 팀 (tim): “team”
  • 이건 (igeon): “this is”
  • 경쟁 (gyeongjaeng): “competition”

6- 냉장고를 부탁해 (Naengjanggo-reul Butakhae) — “Please Take Care of My Refrigerator”

Please Take Care of My Refrigerator

Korean TV show information:
Period: 11/17/2014 ~ present (as of 2019)
Channel: JTBC

Why should you watch this Korean series?
Are you into cooking shows? Do you want to enjoy watching top chefs in Korea competing against each other by using limited resources from the fridge of a famous celebrity? 나의 냉장고를 부탁해 (Naengjanggo-reul Butakhae) or “Please Take Care of My Refrigerator” is a Korean cooking show starring various chefs and celebrity guests.

The really fun part of this show is that you’ll get to see a celebrity’s fridge—INSIDE. What better way to get a glimpse of the lifestyle of a celebrity? In this Korean reality show, two hosts open the fridge and investigate inside. The guests will come up with a theme for the cooking competition and the chefs have to cook the desired dishes within a limited amount of time with the ingredients available from the fridge. The host will taste the dishes and will decide who wins that cooking competition.

Korean TV show website: https://tv.jtbc.joins.com/replay/pr10010331/pm10026684
YouTube video: Do you want to watch just a little bit of the show? You can watch some videos here.

Korean phrases and quotes:

  • 가끔 음식 먹다 보면 엄마가 생각나나 봐요? (gakkeum eumsik meokda bomyeon eommaga saenggangnana bwayo?)
    • “Sometimes when you eat food, does this remind you of your mom?”

Must-know Korean vocabularies:

  • 가끔 (gakkeum): “sometimes”
  • 엄마 (eomma): “mother”
  • 생각나다 (saenggangnada): “to think”

7- 비정상회담 (Bijeongsanghoedam) — “Abnormal Summit”

Abnormal Summit

Korean TV show information:
Period: 7/07/2014 ~ 12/04/2017
Channel: JTBC

Why should you watch this Korean series?
비정상회담 (Bijeongsanghoedam) or “Abnormal Summit” is a South Korean TV show on JTBC which was aired on the 7th of July in 2014. It’s a debate show where people from different countries gather to discuss a topic in Korea. You’ll be surprised to see how fluent their Korean is; this TV show is a great source to learn many expressions in Korean.

Also, since it’s a debate show, it’s fascinating to see contestants with completely different views about a topic and debate passionately. A new guest is invited (usually a famous Korean celebrity or politician) every episode to introduce the debate topic. This TV show ended in 2017, and there is no set date for a new season. You can watch this Korean TV show on Netflix.

Korean TV show website: https://tv.jtbc.joins.com/nonsummit
YouTube video: Do you want to watch just a little bit of the show? You can watch some videos here.

Korean phrases and quotes:

  • 자기가 좋아하는 일을 하세요. (jagiga joahaneun ireul haseyo.)
    • “Do what you love.”
  • 성공이 무엇인지 한 가지로 정의 된 것은 없습니다. (seonggongi mueosinji han gajiro jeongui doen geoseun eopseumnida.)
    • “There is no universal definition of ‘success.’”

Must-know Korean vocabularies:

  • 좋아하는 일 (joahaneun il): “self-imposed work”
  • 성공 (seonggong): “success”
  • 무엇 (mueot): “what”
  • 정의 (jeongui): “definition”
  • 없다 (eopda): “there is no…”

8- 미스터리 음악쇼 복면가왕 (Miseuteori Eumaksyo Bokmyeon-gawang) — “King of Mask Singer”

King of Mask Singer

Korean TV show information:
Time: Sundays @ 4:50 pm
Period: 4/05/2015 ~ present (as of 2019)
Channel: MBC

What is this Korean reality show about?
미스터리 음악쇼 복면가왕 (Miseuteori Eumaksyo Bokmyeon-gawang) or “King of Mask Singer” is a
Korean singing show. Contestants wear a mask in order to hide their identity from the audience and the judges of the show. Since the singers cannot be identified, you’re better able to really enjoy the pure talent of the contestants.

Each round, two contestants compete against each other in three elimination rounds. Losing contestants will reveal their identity by taking off their masks while singing their last song, and this is one of the most exciting parts of the show! If you’re into K-pop singers and would like to listen to some extreme talent, this show is for you! Also, they use many adjectives to describe their feelings and to give feedback about the singing, so you’ll learn many vocabularies while you enjoy listening to some of the most beautiful voices in Korean culture.

Korean TV show website: https://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/ent/sundaynight/

YouTube video: Do you want to watch just a little bit of the show? Here’s the video of BTS Jungkook in the show.

Korean phrases and quotes:

  • 엄청 떨려요. (eomcheong tteollyeoyo.)
    • “I am tremble.” (Or “I’m really nervous.”)
  • 반전을 거듭하는 무대 (banjeoneul geodeupaneun mudae)
    • “repeated twists in the stage”

Vocabularies:

  • 엄청 (eomcheong): “very”
  • 떨리다 (tteollida): “tremble”
  • 반전 (banjeon): “twist”
  • 거듭하다 (geodeupada): “repeat”
  • 무대 (mudae): “stage”

9- 프로듀스 48 (peurodyuseu 8) — “Produce 48”

Produce 48

Korean TV show information:
Period: 6/15/2018 ~ 8/31/2018
Channel: Mnet

What is this Korean competition TV show about?
If you’re interested in competition TV shows that introduce you to the journey of how a Korean idol is made, this TV show is for you. This show is a Korean music show and is an ongoing competition where contestants ultimately aim to be in a girl group in the end.

Contestants need to be able to dance and sing very well, and also need to receive many votes from the audience in order to continue in this competition. The newest season has 96 contestants from South Korea and Japan, and the contestants from Japan are from a famous J-Pop idol group called AKB48.

Korean TV show website: https://produce48.mnet.com/pc/main
YouTube video: Do you want to watch just a little bit of the show? You can watch the videos here:

Korean phrases and quotes:

  • 그때의 나는 작은 왕관의 무게도 너무 버거워서 도망치고 싶었다.
    • “At that time, I wanted to flee because the weight of the small crown was too heavy.”
  • 하기 싫으면 안 할 거예요? 수업받기 싫으면 나가요.
    • “Are you not going to do it if you don’t want to? If you do not want to take classes, get out.”

Vocabularies:

  • 그때 (geuttae): “that time”
  • 왕관 (wanggwan): “crown”
  • 버겁다 (beogeopda): “be beyond one’s capacity”
  • 도망가다 (domanggada): “run away”
  • 수업 (sueop): “course”

10- 세상에 나쁜 개는 없다. (Sesange nappeun gaeneun eopda.) — “There are No Bad Dogs in this World.”

Two Dogs Biting a stick

Korean TV show information:
Period: 4/09/2015 ~ present (as of 2019)
Channel: EBS

What is this Korean TV series about?
You’ve probably seen many dog training-related TV shows in your own country; there are many dog training TV shows such as It’s Me or the Dog by a trainer named Victoria Stilwell or Dog Whisperer with Ceasar Milliam. If you’re a big fan of these TV shows, this one’s for you.

This Korean TV show is the latest Korean shoㅈ. 세상에는 나쁜 개는 없다 (sesangeneun nappeun gaeneun eopda) is a dog training Korean reality TV series run by a Korean dog trainer, 강형욱 (ganghyeonguk). Every episode he introduces cases and how to solve the problems presented. You can learn training tips as well as Korean!

Korean TV show website: https://home.ebs.co.kr/baddog/main
YouTube video: Do you want to learn how to train your dog while learning Korean? You can watch a video of this Korean TV reality show from here.

Korean phrases and quotes:

  • 최선을 다해 반려견을 사랑해주세요. (Choeseoneul dahae ballyeogyeoneul saranghaejuseyo.)
    • “Please do your best to love the dog.”
  • 강아지가 제일 좋아하는 사람은 백수다. (Gangajiga jeil joahaneun sarameun baeksuda.)
    • “Dogs love unemployed owner the most (since they stay at home all the time).”

Vocabularies:

  • 최선 (choeseon): “the best way”
  • 반려견 (ballyeogyeon): “a pet”
  • 사랑하다 (saranghada): “to love something or someone”
  • 강아지 (gangaji): “a dog”
  • 백수 (baeksu): “unemployed”

4. How to Study the Korean Language with KoreanClass101

Apart from watching TV shows in Korean, there are many other ways that you can improve your Korean. Here, you can learn the top ways to practice your Korean reading skills. We understand that learning a new language isn’t easy and it can be frustrating when you have a difficult time memorizing words. People have different techniques for memorizing vocabulary words and KoreanClass101 has prepared a number of techniques for remembering words. You can access all of these materials mentioned above for free.

KoreanClass101 offers the world’s largest study materials available online for you to study whenever you want, at your own pace. Learn Korean lessons with KoreanClass101 today.

What’s your favorite South Korean TV show? Leave a comment below and share why you like the TV show.

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