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Archive for the 'Korean Culture' Category

12 Reasons Why Learning Korean is Important


Whether you want to travel or work in South Korea, there are many reasons as to why learning Korean is important. More and more people are learning the Korean language to better understand K-Pop and Korean dramas—and if you’re a fan of a Korean celebrity, you don’t want to miss out on subtle messages or cultural references while listening to them speak in Korean! 

Another great reason to learn the Korean language? In addition to understanding the vocabulary and grammar, studying Korean will also familiarize you with Korean culture and all the benefits that come with that knowledge! 


In this article, I’ll outline 10 reasons why learning Korean is important and discuss why it’s easy to study the language.

Illustration of BTS Members
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. 한류 (Hallyu): Korean Dramas, Korean Pop Songs!
  2. Increase Brain Power and Become More Open-Minded!
  3. Become More Competitive in the Job Market!
  4. Make Travel Easier and More Enjoyable!
  5. Improve Your Social Life and Connect with More People!
  6. It’s Easier to Learn a Third Language!
  7. 한글 (Hangul), the “Korean Alphabet,” is Easy to Learn
  8. Korean Doesn’t Have Grammatical Gender!
  9. Konglish Makes Learning Even More Fun
  10. Make More Korean Friends!
  11. Hello, Academic Advantages!
  12. You Can Raise Your Children to be Bilingual
  13. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You with Korean

1. 한류 (Hallyu): Korean Dramas, Korean Pop Songs!

There’s no denying that 한류 (hallyu), or the “Korean wave,” has taken over the world. 

Korean pop culture used to be popular only in Asia, but it has gained popularity in Western countries in recent years. You have only to look at famous Korean groups such as BTS (their concerts have always been full!) and the increasing popularity of Korean skincare products and routines to see why more and more people have started learning the Korean language.  

Here are just a few pop culture-related benefits of learning Korean: 

1) It will allow you to understand (and sing along to) the lyrics of your favorite Korean songs. The reverse is also true: Listening to Korean songs can help you learn the language in a fun, entertaining way! 

2) You’ll be able to ‘read the air’ while watching Korean dramas and pick up on subtle hints regarding Korean culture. Have you ever watched a Korean drama and felt confused about a specific behavior exhibited by a character? This could be the result of not knowing enough about Korean culture and its many nuances. 

3) It will increase your awareness of other cultures. Being able to speak a foreign language exposes you to diverse ideas and perspectives from other countries. Next time you’re watching a Korean drama, pay close attention to cultural differences! 

Here are some additional pages on where you can read about Korean dramas and K-Pop: 

2. Increase Brain Power and Become More Open-Minded! 

Learning a language has a positive effect on your brain, and it’s a great way to keep your brain healthy and sharp. It can, for example, help you improve your multitasking, problem-solving, and creative abilities because it promotes outside-the-box thinking. It can even improve your memory! 

By learning a new language, you’ll be able to see the world from a brand-new perspective; each country has its own unique culture and way of seeing the world. You can compare these worldviews with your own and realize that there are many different ways to see the world. This open-mindedness and cultural awareness can help you adjust appropriately to life in other countries.

A Man Shakes His Hand with a Korean Business Partner in the City of Seoul

3. Become More Competitive in the Job Market!

Whether you want to work at a trading company or find a job in South Korea, being able to speak the Korean language will increase your chances of getting hired. Korean is the official language in Korea, so doing business with or in the country requires Korean proficiency. More specifically, you’ll need Korean proficiency certification through a test such as the TOPIK. 

Want to learn more about how to get a job in South Korea? Check out the pages below:

4. Make Travel Easier and More Enjoyable!

Traveling becomes a lot more enjoyable when you take away the language barrier! 

Korean people are very curious about tourists and they’re always eager to chat with you! They also appreciate it a lot when they see foreigners trying different Korean dishes at a local restaurant. 

I had a friend who visited Seoul, Korea last year and the Korean man next to him started asking him questions about himself. My friend could speak a little bit of Korean, so he managed to hold a small conversation with the stranger—and guess what happened? The kind stranger ordered different Korean dishes for them to share and paid for the dinner, and they still keep in touch! 

You don’t need to speak the Korean language fluently: As long as you can speak the basics and respect the culture, you’ll have a very positive experience in South Korea!

Want to make the most of your South Korea travels? Then check out these pages for more information: 

Learning the Korean Language Will Help You Build More Meaningful Relationships with Koreans

5. Improve Your Social Life and Connect with More People!

Speaking the Korean language will certainly open up a whole new range of social opportunities for you. This is because you’ll be able to converse with Korean people and experience more meaningful relationships with them. Being able to speak Korean will not only open up the doors for more social opportunities, but also boost your confidence too! Imagine chatting with your Korean friends at a pajama party, or even having a good conversation with your Korean family! By speaking with locals, it’s guaranteed that your Korean skills will advance in no time. 

6. It’s Easier to Learn a Third Language! 

Learning a new language helps you reflect on your own language and gain a better aptitude for languages in general. Once you understand how language works, it will be a lot easier for you to pick up a third language if it’s similar to your own language or to Korean. A lot of Korean learners find it easier to learn Japanese and Chinese, for example, because many Korean and Japanese characters originated from China.

Instructions on How to Write Some of the Korean Characters

Learning the Korean alphabet is very simple.

7.  한글 (Hangul), the “Korean Alphabet,” is Easy to Learn

You may think that the Korean language is difficult to learn because the “alphabet” looks completely different from that of your language. But 한글 (hangul), or the Korean alphabet, is extremely easy to learn. In fact, it’s considered to have the most logical system of writing in the world.

During the 조선 (Joseon) period, 세종대왕 (sejongdaewang), or “King Sejong,” created 한글 (Hangul) because Chinese characters were used at that time and the majority of Koreans could not read them. After he introduced this simple and logical Korean alphabet, everyone was able to read and write the Korean language. Hangul is still used today and it’s simple enough for absolute beginners to memorize within a week! So why don’t you give it a try? 

You can read more about the history of Hangul on Wikipedia or learn how to write in Korean on

8. Korean Doesn’t Have Grammatical Gender!

A lot of French-, Spanish-, and German-learners struggle to learn the language in question because of the gendered nouns. This takes time for learners to memorize and it can be frustrating. The good news is that Korean has no grammatical gender, which makes it much faster and simpler to learn!

A Woman Lying Down, Covering Her Eyes, and Laughing

Once you know the meaning of a Konglish word, you won’t be able to stop laughing!

9. Konglish Makes Learning Even More Fun

Konglish is a style of English used by Korean speakers. 

For example, when you’re at a restaurant in South Korea, you’ll hear 셀프 (selfeu) a lot. This means that you’ll need to bring water and side dishes from a designated area by yourself. 

Here’s a trickier example: Can you guess what 디카 (dika) means? It’s an abbreviation of Digital Camera. 

A lot of modern words are derived from English, so have fun exploring Konglish while studying the Korean language as well! Test your Konglish skills for fun and see if you can answer all the questions correctly! 

10. Make More Korean Friends! 

If you can speak the Korean language, you’ll have more chances to gain Korean friends. There are a lot of Korean people who can speak different languages such as English, Chinese, Japanese, French, and the list goes on. So if you can find someone who speaks a second language, you’ll have a higher chance of becoming great friends. I recommend Conversation Exchange, where you can find a language exchange partner in your area or someone to practice the language with over the phone or Skype. 

Koreans will also be very curious to know you if you’re from a different country, so don’t be afraid to converse with them if they approach you first! We’re always curious and want to get to know you!

A Guy with Pink Letters Coming Out of His Mouth

Being bilingual will bring so many benefits to your life.

11. Hello, Academic Advantages! 

If you can read and understand Korean, you’ll have more opportunities to find valuable books that have not been translated into other languages. 

For example, if you’re majoring in Korean at a university, there will be many books in your language at the library that teach you about Korean culture and the language. But what about other Korean books that have not been translated into different languages? If you know the Korean language, you can easily read through these books and learn something that other books may not have mentioned. 

Think of all the advantages that you could have! 

12. You Can Raise Your Children to be Bilingual

After reading about why to learn Korean and the numerous benefits that come with it, you may want to make sure that your children can have that chance as well. If you can pass down your language skills to your kids, they will most likely be bilingual and maybe even learn a third language later. It’s a great skill to pass down to your children!

13. How KoreanClass101 Can Help You with Korean

In summary, you’ve learned 12 reasons why you should learn the Korean language! I hope this article made you want to study Korean even more! 

Which of these facts was new to you? And why would you like to learn Korean? Let us know in the comments! 

Learning a new language takes time and you need to be ready to make a continuous effort. I understand that you’re very busy, so I have a suggestion for you. 

To speed up your Korean learning, I would recommend taking an online class because it will allow you to choose a study schedule that works for you. KoreanClass101 is a 100% online course offering a unique Korean learning experience designed to help you learn faster while staying engaged. Create a free lifetime account and start your Korean lessons with native speakers today! 

Lastly, if you want to spend more time understanding the Korean culture, here are some interesting articles from KoreanClass101 that you might want to read! 

Thank you and have a great day!

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The 11 Most Well-Known Korean Proverbs


Learning Korean proverbs is not only a great way to study the language, but also a window to the unique Korean culture. To help you get the most out of your language studies, we’ve put together this useful Korean proverbs list for you to study. Who knows—you may find that you can start applying these words of wisdom to your own life!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. 꿩 먹고 알 먹는다 (kkwong meokgo al meongneunda)
  2. 보기 좋은 떡이 먹기도 좋다 (bogi joeun tteogi meokgido jota)
  3. 로마는 하루아침에 이루어진 것이 아니다 (romaneun haruachime irueojin geosi anida)
  4. 낮말은 새가 듣고 밤말은 쥐가 듣는다 (nanmareun saega deutgo bammareun jwiga deunneunda)
  5. 세 살 버릇 여든까지 간다 (se sal beoleus yeodeunkkaji ganda)
  6. 말 한마디에 천냥 빚도 갚는다 (mal hanmadie cheonnyang bijdo gapneunda)
  7. 궁하면 통한다 (gunghamyeon tonghanda)
  8. 뜻이 있는 곳에 길이 있다 (tteusi inneun gose giri itda)
  9. 병 주고 약 준다 (byeong jugo yak junda)
  10. 원숭이도 나무에서 떨어질 때가 있다 (wonsungido namueseo tteoreojil ttaega itda)
  11. 옷이 날개다 (osi nalgaeda)
  12. Want to Learn More? KoreanClass101 Can Help!

1. 꿩 먹고 알 먹는다 (kkwong meokgo al meongneunda)

Vocabulary List: 

  • (kkwong) – “pheasant”
  • 먹고 (meokgo) – “and eat”
  • (al) – “an egg”
  • 먹는다 (meongneunda) – “eat”

Literal Translation: Eat a pheasant and eat its egg.
Close English Proverb: Kill two birds with one stone.

This phrase is used to describe a situation where you do one action and receive two benefits at the same time.

For example, imagine that you finally decide to stop smoking to improve your health. You could use this phrase to emphasize that you would not only become healthier than before, but also spend less money on hospital visits and insurance. 

Another example would be if you were cleaning your house and found a stack of money that you had completely forgotten about. In that case, you might say: 

꿩 먹고 알도 먹고! 방 청소하다가 돈 찾았어.
Kkwong meokgo aldo meokgo! Bang cheongsohadaga don chajasseo.
“Kill two birds with one stone! I found some money while cleaning the house.”

A Person Holding a Golden Egg with Two Hands

2. 보기 좋은 떡이 먹기도 좋다 (bogi joeun tteogi meokgido jota)

Vocabulary List: 

  • 보기 (bogi) – “to see”
  • 좋은 (joeun) – “and to be good”
  • (tteok) – “rice cake”
  • 먹기도 (meokgido) – “and to eat”
  • 좋다 (jota) – “good”

Literal Translation: Good looking tteok (rice cake) tastes good too.
Close English Proverb: What looks good also tastes good.

When you see something that looks good, it will likely be of good quality. This is because the nice appearance shows that someone put a lot of effort into it. 


민수: 이 책, 내용이 주제별로 잘 분류되어 있고 사진의 질도 참 좋네.
Minsu: I chaek, naeyongi jujebyeollo jal bunryudoeeo itgo sajinui jildo cham jonne.
Minsu: “The contents of this book are well-organized by topic, and the quality of the photos is great.”

철수: 보기 좋은 떡이 먹기도 좋다는데, 한번 읽어봐.
Cheolsu: Bogi joeun tteogi meokgido jotaneunde, hanbeon ilgeobwa.
Cheolsu: “What looks good is usually good too, so read it.”

3. 로마는 하루아침에 이루어진 것이 아니다 (romaneun haruachime irueojin geosi anida)

Vocabulary List: 

  • 로마 (roma) – “Roma”
  • 하루아침 (haruachim) – “one morning”
  • 이루어지다 (irueojida) – “be achieved”

Literal Translation: Rome wasn’t made in one morning.
Close English Proverb: Rome wasn’t built in a day.

This Korean proverb is used to remind us that we cannot expect to do important tasks really quickly, because quality work takes time. For example, it takes time and effort to become 몸짱 (momzzang), meaning someone with muscle. 


민수: 나 헬스클럽 등록했어. 몸짱 빨리 되고 싶다.
Minsu: Na helseukeulleop deungnokaesseo. Momjjang ppalli doego sipda.
Minsu: “I registered for a health club. I want to gain muscle quickly.”

철수: 로마는 하루아침에 이루어진 것이 아닌건 알지?
Cheolsu: Romaneun haruachime irueojin geosi aningeon alji?maneun haluachim-e ilueojin geos-i aningeon alji?
Cheolsu: “You know that Rome didn’t happen overnight, right?”

Four Blue-colored Birds Lined Up on a Bench

4. 낮말은 새가 듣고 밤말은 쥐가 듣는다 (nanmareun saega deutgo bammareun jwiga deunneunda)

Vocabulary List: 

  • 낮말  (nanmal) – “words spoken during daytime”
  • 새 (sae) – “bird”
  • 밤말 (bammal) – “words spoken during nighttime”
  • 쥐 (jwi) – “mouse”
  • 듣는다 (deutneunda) – “listens”

Literal Translation: “Birds hear the words spoken in the day, and mice hear the words spoken at night.”
Close English Proverb: The walls have ears.

This proverb means that no matter how secretly you say something, others are likely to hear. If you know someone who spreads rumors or says bad things about others, you should step in and quote this Korean proverb. 


민수: 너 내가 없을때 나에 대해 나쁜 얘기 했다면서?
Minsu: Neo naega eopseulttae nae daehae nappeun yaegi haetdamyeonseo?
Minsu: “You said bad things about me when I wasn’t there?”

철수: 아니 그런적 없는데?
Cheolsu: Ani geureonjeok eomneunde?
Chulsoo: “No, I didn’t.”

민수: 낮말은 새가 듣고 밤말은 쥐가 듣는다고, 너 말 조심하고 다녀.
Minsu: Nanmareun saega deutgo bammareun jwiga deunneundago, neo mal josimhago danyeo.
Minsu: “Birds listen during the day, and rats listen during the night. Watch your mouth.”

5. 세 살 버릇 여든까지 간다 (se sal beoleus yeodeunkkaji ganda)

Vocabulary List: 

  • 세 살 (se sal) – “3 years old”
  • 버릇 (beoreut) – “habit” (usually bad habits)
  • 여든 (yeodeun) – “80 years old” 
  • 까지 (kkaji) – “until”
  • 간다 (ganda) – “to go”

Literal Translation: Habits (learned) at three last until one is eighty.
Close English Proverb: What’s learned in the cradle is carried to the grave.

This wise Korean proverb is used to warn that bad habits should be corrected early in life, since they’re very difficult to correct later in life. You could say this, for instance, when somebody keeps repeating the same mistakes. 


민수: 세 살 버릇 여든까지 간다는 말 몰라? 그 버릇 때문에 힘들어질걸?
Minsu: Se sal beoreut yeodeunkkaji gandaneun mal molla? Geu beoreut ttaemune himdeureojilgeol?
Minsu: “Don’t you know the saying that 3-year-old habits last until you’re 80? You’re going to suffer from that habit!”

6. 말 한마디에 천냥 빚도 갚는다 (mal hanmadie cheonnyang bijdo gapneunda)

Vocabulary List: 

  • (mal) – “saying”
  • 한마디 (hanmadi) – “a single word”
  • (cheon) – “a thousand”
  • 냥: (nyang) – “an old unit of Korean coinage”
  • (bit) – “a debt”
  • (do) – “also”
  • 갚는다 (gamneunda) – “to pay back”

Literal Translation: One word can repay a thousand nyang (old Korean currency) debt.
Close English Proverb: A good tongue is a good weapon.

This proverb highlights the importance of how you speak to people. You could use this proverb in a situation where someone is trying to persuade another party to do something; it would emphasize the importance of choosing their words carefully. 


말 한마디에 천냥 빚도 갚는다고, 항상 말 조심해야해.
mal hanmadie cheonnyang bijdo gapneundago, hangsang mal josimhaeyahae.
“A good tongue is a good weapon, so be careful what you say.”

Two Puzzle Pieces Joining Together

7. 궁하면 통한다 (gunghamyeon tonghanda)

Vocabulary List: 

  • 궁하면 (gunghamyeon) – “if you need something”
  • 통한다 (tonghanda) – “it will open up”

Literal Translation: If you need something, it will open up.
Close English Proverb: There is always a way out.

This is a proverb often used to motivate others to find an innovative solution to a problem that otherwise seems helpless. For example, if a friend of yours wanted to become a YouTuber, you could use this proverb to encourage them. 


민수: 유튜버가 되고 싶다.
Minsu: Yutyubeoga doego sipda.
Minsu: “I want to be a YouTuber.”

철수: 궁하면 통한다고 한번 해봐!
Cheolsu: Gunghamyeon tonghandago hanbeon haebwa!
Chulsoo: “Try it, maybe it will work!”

8. 뜻이 있는 곳에 길이 있다 (tteusi inneun gose giri itda)

Vocabulary List: 

  • (tteut) – “meaning”
  • 있다 (itda) – “there is”
  • (got) – “place”
  • (gil) – “path”

Literal Translation: In the place there is a will, there is a way.
Close English Proverb: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

You can use this Korean proverb exactly the same way you would use its English equivalent. It means that a person can achieve anything, despite the difficulties, if they want it bad enough. 


민수: 저 직장 너무 갖고 싶다.
Minsu: Jeo jigjang neomu gatgo sipda.
Minsu: “I really want that job.”

철수: 뜻이 있는 곳에 길이 있다고 열심히 해봐!
Cheolsu: Tteusi itneun gose giri itdago yeolsimhi haebwa!
Chulsoo: “Try hard because where there’s a will, there’s a way!”

9. 병 주고 약 준다 (byeong jugo yak junda)

Vocabulary List: 

  • (byeong) – “illness”
  • 주고 (jugo) – “and give”
  • (yak) – “medicine”
  • 준다 (junda) – “to give”

Literal Translation: Give a disease then give medicine.
Close English Proverb: To make trouble and then give help.

This proverb describes the actions of a deceptive person, who first causes harm and then offers a remedy in order to appear like the rescuer.


철수: 콜록콜록
Cheolsu: kollogkollog
Chulsoo: coughing

수미: 야! 너 감기 걸렸어?
Sumi: Ya! neo gamgi geollyeoss-eo?
Sumi: “Hey! Do you have a cold?”

다음날 (daeumnal) – “Next day”

수미: 콜록콜록
Sumi: kollogkollog
Sumi: coughing

철수: 미안해, 이 약 먹고 빨리 나아.
Cheolsu: Mianhae, i yag meoggo ppalli naa.
Chulsoo: “Sorry, I hope you get better with this medicine.”

수미: 지금 병 주고 약 주냐?
Sumi: Jigeum byeong jugo yag junya?
Sumi: “Are you being nice or nasty?”

A Motor Biker Falling Onto the Sand

10. 원숭이도 나무에서 떨어질 때가 있다 (wonsungido namueseo tteoreojil ttaega itda)

Vocabulary List: 

  • 원숭이 (wonesungi) – “a monkey”
  • (do) – “also” / “too”
  • 나무 (namu) – “a tree”
  • 에서(eseo) – “from”
  • 떨어질 때가 (tteoreojil ttaega) – There is a time when one falls~
  • 있다 (itda) – “there is”

Literal Translation: Monkeys sometimes fall from trees.
Close English Proverb: Even Homer sometimes nods.

Use this phrase to emphasize that even an expert sometimes makes mistakes. 


민수: 저 피겨스케이터 전세계 1위인데도 넘어질때가 있네.
Minsu: Jeo pigyeoseukeiteo jeonsegye irwiindedo neomeojilttaega itne.
Minsu: “Even though she is the number-one figure skater in the world, she sometimes falls too.”

철수: 원숭이도 나무에서 떨어질 때가 있잖아.
Cheolsu: Wonsungido namueseo tteoreojil ttaega itjana.
Chulsoo: “Even Homer sometimes nods.”

11. 옷이 날개다 (osi nalgaeda)

Vocabulary List: 

  • 옷 (ot) – “clothing”
  • 날개 (nalgae) – “wing” 

Literal Translation: Clothes are your wings.
Close English Proverb: Dress to impress.

This proverb emphasizes the importance of dressing well. 


민수: 우와, 너 오늘따라 진짜 멋있어 보인다.
Minsu: Uwa, neo oneulttala jinjja meosisseo boinda.
Minsu: “Wow, you look really cool today.”

철수: 옷이 날개라고, 새로운 옷 좀 샀지.
Cheolsu: Osi nalgaerago, saeroun ot jom satji.
Chulsoo: “Dress to impress. I bought some new clothes.”

A Man Studying the Korean Language at a Quiet Library

12. Want to Learn More? KoreanClass101 Can Help!

In this article, you learned several unique Korean proverbs as well as a few you may recognize from English. Memorizing these proverbs is a fun way to complement your Korean studies, because you can compare them with proverbs from your country. While some of them are difficult to understand, this gives you more reason to brush up on your knowledge of Korean culture! 

If you want to learn more about Korean proverbs and other sayings, there are several pages on (and elsewhere on the web) where you can find more proverbs. Feel free to check them out when you have time! 



Do you have any questions about the proverbs we’ve covered? If so, leave us a comment below and we’ll be glad to help!

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10 Places to Visit in Seoul


Visiting Seoul can be an enchanting experience, but we all know how stressful planning a trip can be! If you have your heart set on exploring this unique South Korean city, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the best places to visit in Seoul, provide some practical information about the country, and cover a handful of useful phrases you can use to converse with locals.

Travelers Enjoying Their Time by the Ocean of Haeundae Beach in South Korea

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. Before You Go…
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)
  4. Korean Survival Phrases for Travelers
  5. Want to Learn More Survival Phrases? No Problem!

Before You Go…

Here’s some basic information about South Korea you should know before you travel to Seoul:

  • Language: Korean. (English is becoming increasingly common, as are Chinese and Japanese.)
  • Currency: KRW (won)
  • Electricity info: 220 volts (plugs have two round pins) 
  • Visa: Depending on where you’re from, you may or may not need to obtain a visa in advance. Some countries (including the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Slovenia, and Japan) are allowed up to ninety days, while other countries have different policies. Check out the website of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to see if you need to have a visa to enter South Korea. 
  • Payment methods: Most restaurants, cafes, shops, and even taxis accept credit cards. Because of this, most Koreans rarely carry cash. 
  • Average cost of a meal: While meal prices in South Korea can vary, the cheapest cost of food is about ₩2,500 (for a roll of Kimbap, for example). That said, the average cost of food in South Korea is about ₩29,301 per day. 
  • Technology: South Korea ranks among the most technologically advanced countries in the world. This creates plenty of benefits for travelers in the country, including access to free wifi just about everywhere: on the subway, in restaurants, in cafes, in public places, and so on. 

Transportation: Transportation in South Korea is easy to use, as all of the signs and announcements are written and announced in multiple languages, including Korean, English, Chinese, and Japanese.

beautiful scenic shot of Jiri Mountain in South Korea

Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

Depending on how much time you have to visit this exciting city, you may need to prioritize your agenda to include the places and activities that matter most to you. If you’re on a tight schedule, then there are a few must-visit attractions in Seoul we highly recommend! 

Day 1 in Seoul 

경복궁 – “Gyeongbokgung Palace” (Google map)

경복궁 (gyeongbokgung), or “Gyeongbokgung Palace,” is the largest of the royal palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty and it’s located at the heart of the capital city. This place is famous for travelers walking around the palace dressed up in 한복 (hanbok), or traditional Korean clothing. It’s a great spot for Instagram pictures! You’ll also find guards all around the palace grounds. 

Gyeonbokgung regularly holds traditional Korean ceremonies, so do check out their website for more information. Travelers who visit here can also visit the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea.

인사동 – “Insadong” (Google map)

인사동 (insadong) is a popular location among travelers, who buy many souvenirs for their family and friends here. You can spend many hours just walking through the streets, exploring the authentic Korean hand-made shops and street food stalls. 

청계천 – “Cheonggyecheon” (Google map)

After spending a few hours shopping at Insadong, you can walk to 청계천 (Cheonggyecheon) to enjoy the sound of the river and take a nice stroll. It’s a great place to chill and get away from the city’s fast-paced lifestyle. Depending on the time of year, there are different exhibitions and events held here as well.

광화문 광장 – “Gwanghwamun Square” (Google map)

This place is a major tourist attraction in Seoul. The statues of the great naval admiral Yi Sun-sin and 세종 대왕 (sejong daewang), or “King Sejong,” are located here and there are many seasonal events in the square throughout the year. It is also a popular place for demonstrations to take place.

북촌한옥마을 – “Bukchon Hanok Village”(Google map)

Many have reported that once you enter 북촌한옥마을 (bukchonhanokmaul), or “Bukchon Hanok Village,” you feel as though you’ve been transported into the past. Like Gyeongbokgung Palace, this is another great place to dress up in Hanbok. It is one of the most-visited places in Seoul, with plenty of mesmerizing architecture to admire. However, while walking around this area, it’s important to respect the locals as it is a residential area.

A Korean Lady in a Pink Hanbok

Day 2 in Seoul

광장시장 – “Gwangjang Market” (Google map)

After your first day and night in Seoul, why not kick off your second day at Gwangjang Market? The market is both a shopping street and a street food area, and it’s famous for having a variety of outdoor food courts. 

서울타워 – “Seoul Tower” (Google map)

서울타워 (Seoultawo), or “Seoul Tower,” previously known as 남산타워 (namsantawo), is a popular location among local couples because there’s a spot to place love locks. On the other hand, travelers enjoy the tower because it offers a view of the entire city. 

명동 – “Myeongdong” (Google map)

명동 (Myeongdong) is a well-known shopping district, featuring many famous Korean cosmetic shops, clothing stores, and some amazing street food. If you’re looking to buy some cosmetics or small gifts for your family or friends, this is the perfect place to do so.

Day 3 in Seoul

인왕산 – “Inwangsan Mountain” (Google map)

인왕산 (Inwangsan), or “Inwang Mountain,” is one of the best places to hike in Seoul, and the entire hike takes about two to three hours. Locals love visiting this place, especially later in the day when they can enjoy the evening light of Seoul. It seems that travelers visit the mountain during the night while locals tend to visit in the evening. If you want to enjoy both, it’s best to start hiking about one or two hours before sunset.

동대문디자인플라자 – “Dongdaemun Design Plaza” (Google map)

The plaza is very easy to visit via subway, and it’s a design-lover’s paradise! The building features a minimalist style of architecture, and if you go inside, you’ll find many shops that sell special items made in Korea. Also, if you visit during Fashion Week, you’ll be able to see many K-pop stars as well as famous Korean fashion models!

강남 – “Gangnam” (Google map)

I’m sure you’ve heard of Gangnam, most likely via the world-famous K-pop star PSY. This is a wonderful place to enjoy shopping and dining, and it’s also a popular meet-up spot for many young locals. You can buy fashionable clothing and cosmetics here, and even visit an underground shopping mall (such as COEX) to find clothes at a cheaper price and enjoy a range of other activities. 

봉은사 – “Bongeunsa” (Google map)

Many tourists enjoy visiting temples in Korea. While there are many temples in Seoul, Bongeunsa is one of the most popular among locals and tourists alike. After spending some time in the bustling Gangnam District, why don’t you take a walk around Bongeunsa and enjoy the peace and quiet?

A Lady Holding a Korean Flag with a Big Smile

Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)

Do you have a longer trip planned? Great! That will give you time to add a few more memorable locations to your itinerary. Here are a few more must-visit Seoul places that are perfect for more flexible schedules. 

한강 – “The Han River” (Google map)

The Han River, or Hangang, is a major hangout area for locals. People can enjoy various activities such as cycling, running, or eating outside with friends. This place is very popular among younger Koreans because you can have food delivered to you while enjoying the outdoors.

이태원 – “Itaewon” (Google map)

If you feel like having a Western dish or have to find places that offer halal food, Itaewon is the place to go. This place is filled with American-style restaurants and bars, as well as plenty of events and parties (including major Halloween parties!). People who live near or often visit this location tend to be very international-minded too, which can make you feel like you’re not even in Korea. 

서울 시립 미술관 – “Seoul Museum of Art” (Google map)

Located behind the Decksungung Palace, this museum is known for its large collection of artwork, most of which is from the modern era. Its artwork collection is displayed over three floors, and the museum has its own collection as well as special exhibitions.

롯데월드 타워 – “Lotte World Tower” (Google map)

Lotte World Tower is the tallest observation deck in Korea, soaring in the air at 123 stories (556 meters or 1824 feet) tall. It’s filled with luxury hotels and shopping malls, and there are often firework shows held in the evenings.

진왕사, 북한산 국립공원 – “Jingwansa Temple,” “Bukhansan National Park” (Google map)

What travelers enjoy the most about Seoul is that you can enjoy both city life and nature. Bukhansan National Park is a wonderful hiking destination where traditional buildings are surrounded by hiking trails. There’s also a temple deep in the mountain where you can have an overnight visit and participate in cultural and learning programs.

Korean Flag Image

Korean Survival Phrases for Travelers 

If you can speak English, you will have no difficulty traveling around Seoul since the majority of young Koreans can speak English, as well as Japanese or Chinese. Many modern restaurants and cafes have menus in English as well. If you want to immerse yourself in the culture and visit Seoul like a local, then you’ll need to learn some basic Korean to get around. Here are the top ten most useful Korean survival phrases for you. 

1. “Hello.” – 안녕하세요. (Annyeonghaseyo.)  

The Korean language has many different politeness levels, and it’s recommended that you stick to the polite form when speaking with Korean locals. 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) is a polite way of saying hello to people. You’ll also hear a different greeting from restaurant, hotel, or shop staff: 어서오세요 (eoseooseyo). When you hear this, simply reply with 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)

[As you enter a cafe]

Staff Member: 


2. “Thank you.” – 감사합니다. (Gamsahamnida.)

This is a polite way to thank someone in Korea. When you say this to a clerk, you’ll likely hear one of two responses: 

  • 아니예요 (aniyeyo) – “not at all” 
  • 네 (ne) – “okay”

[As you receive a take-out coffee from an employee]

“Thank you.”

Staff Member:

3. “Goodbye.” – 안녕히 계세요. (Annyeonghi gyeseyo.) / 안녕히 가세요. (Annyeonghi gaseyo.

There are two ways to say “goodbye” in Korean: 안녕히 계세요 (annyeonghi gyeseyo) and 안녕히가세요 (annyeonghi gaseyo). 

안녕히 가세요 (annyeonghi gaseyo) is used when you say “goodbye” to someone who is leaving. On the other hand, 안녕히 계세요 (annyeonghi gyeseyo) is used when you are the one leaving and the other person is staying.

[As you leave a cafe]

Staff Member:  
Annyeonghi gaseyo.

안녕히 계세요.
Annyeonghi gyeseyo.

4. “Sorry.” – 죄송합니다. (Joesonghamnida.)

죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida) is the most commonly used phrase for saying sorry to someone, though you can also say 미안합니다 (mianhamnida); the two phrases have the same meaning and can be used interchangeably. However, if you want to say “sorry” or “excuse me” so you can get through a crowd, you should say one of these two phrases instead:

  • 실례합니다 (sillyehamnida) – “excuse me”
  • 지나가겠습니다 (jinagagessseumnida) – “passing through”

[When you step on someone’s foot by mistake]


5. “Sure.” / “Okay.” – 좋아요. (Joayo.

좋아요 (joayo) means “like something,” but is also used to say “sure” or “okay” in Korean. If someone asks a question and you want to say “sure,” simply say 좋아요 (joayo).


오늘 5시에 볼까요?
Oneul daseosie bolkkayo?
“Shall we meet at 5?”


6. “I don’t/can’t speak Korean.” – 한국말 못해요. (Hangugmal mothaeyo.)

You will have no problem ordering food at a cafe or restaurant since most of the staff (university students) can speak decent English. However, many older restaurants run by locals don’t have an English menu or English-speaking staff. To say that you don’t understand or speak Korean, simply say: 한국말 못해요. (Hangugmal motaeyo.)

[When an old person comes to you and speaks to you in Korean]

죄송합니다. 한국말 못해요.
Joesonghamnida. Hangugmal motaeyo.
“Sorry, I don’t speak Korean.”

7. “Where is the restroom?” – 화장실은 어디에 있어요? (Hwajangsireun eodie isseoyo?)

Let’s break it down: 

  • 화장실 (hwajangsil) – “toilet”
  • 어디에 (eodie) – “where”
  • 있어요 (isseoyo) – “is at”

Most restrooms are located near the stairway and the door is always locked for safety reasons. Therefore, it’s always good to ask a staff member directly and get a key (or a key number) so that you can enter. 


화장실은 어디에 있어요?
Hwajangsireun eodie isseoyo?
“Where is the bathroom?”

Staff Member: 
밖에 있어요. 키 가지고 가세요.
Bakke isseoyo. Ki gajigo gaseyo.
“It’s outside. You need to take a key with you.”

8. “How much is it?” – 이거/저거 얼마예요. (Igeo/Jeogeo eolmayeyo.)

We’ll break this one down, too:

  • 이거 (igeo) – “this”
  • 저거 (jeogeo) – “that”
  • 얼마에요 (eolmayeyo) – “how much”

When you’re at an underground shopping mall, it’s a good idea to carry cash with you since the staff will offer additional discounts for people who purchase items with cash. 


You (pointing at a bag):
이거 얼마예요?
Igeo eolmayeyo?
“How much is this?”

Staff Member:  
“50,000 won.”

9. “I want this.” – 이거 주세요. (Igeo juseyo.)

This phrase is commonly used when shopping or ordering food. When you want to order something from a menu and don’t know how to pronounce it, simply point your finger at its picture and say this phrase. 

[You are at an underground shopping mall]

Staff Member: 
“What would you like to order?”

이거 주세요.
Igeo juseyo.
“I want this, please.”

10. “Help!” – 도와주세요! (Dowajuseyo!)

도와주세요 (dowajuseyo) is a polite way to ask for someone’s help in Korean. On the other hand, 살려주세요! (Sallyeojuseyo!) is a stronger phrase used to call for help. It means “Please save (my life),” so if you say this, people will instantly understand that immediate action (such as calling 112) is required. 


누구 없어요? 도와 주세요.
Nugu eopsseoyo? Dowa juseyo.
“Somebody, help!”

There are many emergency assistance services available in Korea for foreigners. Remember to keep these emergency numbers with you at all times in case of an emergency. 

  • Police: 112
  • Fire and ambulance: 119
  • Medical emergencies: 129
  • Foreigner community service: 02-798-7529
  • Seoul help office: 02-3140-1903
  • International SOS Korea LTD: 02-3150-1700

A Guy Holding a Suitcase is at an Airport about to Travel to Korea

Want to Learn More Survival Phrases? No Problem!

Here are more useful pages where you can learn additional Korean phrases before traveling to Korea! 

You can also create an account on KoreanClass101 to learn even more essential Korean phrases and how to use them. 

Before you go, we’re curious: Have you ever visited Korea, or will this be your first time? If you’ve been before, share your experience with us in the comments below!

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Everything You Should Know About Konglish & Korean Loanwords


There are three main word classes in the Korean language: pure Korean words, Sino-Korean words, and foreign words. The foreign words can be broken down further into loanwords and Konglish. 

Konglish refers to words taken directly from the English language and used in Korean. These words are often used with a different meaning than that of the original word, or have a Koreanized pronunciation. Examples include: 

  • 바나나 (banana) – “banana”
  • 뉴욕 (nyeuyok) – “New York” 

In this article, you’ll learn more about Konglish along with other commonly used English words in the Korean language. Let’s get started! 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. Introduction to Konglish
  2. A Brief List of Konglish Words
  3. List of Loanwords
  4. English Words Derived from Korean
  5. How Can Help With Your Korean Learning

Introduction to Konglish

Koreans use many English words every day, but foreigners struggle to understand 콩글리시 (Konglish) because the original meanings of the English words are altered and translated differently in Korean. Many English speakers are puzzled by Konglish because the words do sound English, but they do not exist in the English language and have different meanings. 

Here are some examples of Konglish:

  • 리모콘 (rimokon) – “remote control” 
  • 사인 (sain) – “signature” 
  • 아파트 (apateu) – “apartment” 
  • 슈퍼 (syupeo) – “supermarket’ 
  • 셀프 (selpeu) – “self-service”

A Man on the Bus Studying Korean on His Laptop

A Brief List of Konglish Words

Now that you’ve learned what Konglish is, you’re ready to dive in! In this section, we’ll introduce the most commonly used Konglish words in Korea. 

1) 레포츠 (reportseu) – “leisure” and “sports” 

  • English meaning: Combination of “leisure” and “sports”
  • Korean meaning: The sports that are considered luxurious in Korea


레포츠의 종류는 많아요. 
Repocheuui jonglyuneun mannayo.
“There are many kinds of leisure activities.”

예를 들면 승마, 골프, 산악자전거, 카누, 패러글라이딩 등등이 있어요. 
Yereul deulmyeon seungma, golpeu, sanakjajeongeo, kanu, paereogeullaiding deungdeungi isseoyo.
“Examples include horse riding, golfing, mountain biking, canoeing, paragliding, and so on.”

2) 리조텔 (lijotel) – “resort” and “hotel” 

  • English meaning: Combination of “resort” and “hotel”
  • Korean meaning: Resort and hotel


부산에 괜찮은 리조텔 찾아보자. 
Busane gwaenchaneun rijotel chajaboja.
“Let’s find a good resortel in Busan.”

설악산 리조텔 특가
seoraksana rijotel teukga
“Seoraksan Resortel Deals”

3) 셀카 (selka) – “self” and “camera selfie” 

  • English meaning: Selfie
  • Korean meaning: To take a picture of yourself

Note that selka came from “self” and “camera.”


야, 셀카 같이 찍자! 
Ya, selka gat-i jjigja!
“Hey, let’s take a selfie!”

4) 매스컴 (maseukom) – “mass media”

  • English meaning: “Mass communication” and “mass media” 
  • Korean meaning: Mass communication


매스컴이 사회에 미치는 영향 
maeseukeomi sahoee michineun yeonghyang
“the impact of media on society”

5) 아르바이트 (areubaiteu) – “part-time job”

  • Meaning: “Job” and “work” 
  • Korean meaning: A part-time job, such as at a supermarket or restaurant

Note that areubaiteu comes from the German word “Arbeit,” and is influenced by the Japanese derivative of this word (arubaito). 


“Where are you going?”

나 7시부터 아르바이트 있어서 가야돼. 
Na ilgopsibuteo aleubaiteu iss-eoseo gayadwae.
“I need to go because I have work from seven p.m.”

6) 호치키스 (hochikiseu) – “stapler”

E.H. Hotchkiss is the name of a stapler-making company, which is why Koreans call staplers 호치키스 (hochikiseu), or “hotchkiss.”


호치키스 사고 싶어요. 
Hochikiseu sago sipeoyo.
“I want to buy a stapler.”

7) 아이쇼핑 (aishopping) – “window shopping”

“Eye shopping” is the Koreanized word for “window shopping,” and these two words have the same meaning.


쇼핑하고 싶은데 돈이 없네. 
Syopinghago sipeun de doni eomne.
“I want to go shopping, but I’m broke.”

그럼 아이쇼핑하러 가자! 
Geureom aisyopinghareo gaja!
“Let’s go window shopping then!”

8) 콘센트 (konsenteu) – “electrical outlet” 

  • English meaning: ‘Consent’ is a Konglish word referring to an outlet/socket/power point.
  • Korean meaning: Electrical outlet

Koreans also call electrical outlets 돼지코 (dwaejiko), meaning “pig nose,” because outlets resemble the nose of a pig. 


호주 콘센트는 한국이랑 다르지?
Hoju konsenteuneun hangugirang dareuji?
“The Australian outlet is different from the Korean one, right?”

응 달라.
Eung dalla.
“Yes, it’s different.”

9) 노트북 (noteubuk) – “laptop” 

  • English meaning: “Laptop”
  • Korean meaning: It is a combination of the words “note” and “book.” In Korea, the word “notebook” refers to a “laptop.”


노트북 갖다줄래?
Notubuk gatdajullae?
“Can you pass me my laptop?”

자 여기.
Ja yeogi.
“Sure, here you go.”

아니, 공책말고, 노트북! 
Ani, gongchaekmalgo, noteubuk!
“No, I meant a notebook (laptop), not a notebook!”

아. 응 미안.
A. Eung mian.
“Ah, sorry.”

Other Konglish Words

  • 헬스 (helseu) – “health club” / “fitness center” 
  • 클래식 (keullaesik) – “classical music” 
  • 탤런트 (taellenteu) – “TV actor” 
  • 컨닝 (cunning) – “cheating” 
  • 샤프 (syapeu) – “mechanical pencil” 
  • 핸들 (handeul) – “steering wheel”

A Man Waiting for the Subway, Using His iPad to Study Korean

List of Loanwords

In addition to Konglish, there are several English loanwords in the Korean language. These are words taken directly from English without translation; they mean the same thing as their English counterparts, but have Koreanized spelling and pronunciation. 

토크쇼tokeusyotalk show
아이스크림aiseukeurimice cream
훌라후프hulaheupeuhula hoop
쇼핑백syopingbaekshopping bag

While many English loanwords in Korean relate to food, sports, and shopping, there is also a wealth of loanwords related to technology. To learn more about these words, visit the following pages on

A Man at the Library Studying Korean

English Words Derived from Korean

While there are numerous English words used in Korean, this language and culture exchange goes both ways! Several Korean words have entered the English language and are now used on a daily basis in English-speaking countries. Here are just a few examples. 

1) 먹방 (meokbang

A meokbang is an online broadcast in which a host consumes large quantities of food while interacting with the audience. The host tries a variety of foods, such as pizza or spicy noodles, in front of a camera.


라면 18봉지 먹방
ramyeon sippalbongji meokbang
“18 bags of ramen meokbang”

치즈 돈까스 20개와 크림스프 먹방
Chijeu donkkaseu isipgaewa keurimseupeu meokbang
“20 cheese cutlet and cream soup meokbang”

2) 재벌 (jaebeol

Chaebol refers to a conglomerate business entity. This word appears a lot in Korean dramas.  


저기 있는 남자 재벌이래!
Jeogi itsneun namja jaebeol-ilae!
“The man over there is a chaebol!”

3) 비빔밥 (bibimbap

You may have heard of—or even tried—this dish already. Bibimbap means “mixed rice,” and there are several varieties of this dish, including some vegetarian options. 

The most popular type is 돌솥비빔밥 (dolsotbibimbap), which means “mixed rice in a (hot) stone pot.” The rice is placed inside a stone pot along with vegetables, meats, and egg. The pot is then placed over a fire so that the food is sizzling hot when served. Most service staff will warn you that the pot is very hot and should not be touched until it cools. 


비빔밥 종류가 너무 많아서 못 고르겠어! 
Bibimbap jongnyuga neomu manaseo mot goreugesseo!
“There are so many types of bibimbap, so I can’t choose!”

돌솥비빔밥이 제일 맛있어. 먹어봐.
Dolsotbibimbabi jeil masisseo. Meogeobwa.
“Dolsot Bibimbap is the best. Try it. ”

4) 태권도 (taegwondo)

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art that emphasizes head-height kicks, jumping spinning kicks, and various kicking techniques for above the waist. Taekwondo practitioners wear a uniform called 도복 (dobok), which is a white-colored uniform with a belt tied around the waist. There are different-colored belts that correspond to one’s skill level. 


태권도 시작한지 얼마 되지 않은 사람은 하얀 벨트를 매요.
Taegwondo sijakhanji eolma doeji anneun sarameun hayan belteuleul maeyo.
“People who have just started Taekwondo wear white belts.”

태권도를 오래한 사람은 검은 벨트를 매요. 
Taegwondoreul oraehan sarameun geomeun belteureul maeyo.
“People who are experienced in Taekwondo wear black belts.”

5) 불고기 (bulgogi)

Clay Pot Bulgogi Dish

Bulgogi means “fire meat,” and it refers to a dish of marinated slices of beef grilled on a barbecue with different kinds of vegetables. Sirloin, rib eye, and brisket are the most common ingredients for this dish.


외국인이 좋아하는 한식은 무엇이 있을까? 
Oegugini joahaneun hansigeun mueosi isseulkka?
“What Korean foods do foreigners like?”

고기 좋아한다면 불고기 추천! 
Gogi joahandamyeon bulgogi chucheon!
“I recommend Bulgogi if they like meat!”

6) 소주 (soju)

Soju is a Korean alcoholic beverage that comes in a green glass bottle. This is the most popular alcoholic drink in Korean restaurants and it goes well with grilled meat. In recent years, the company that produces Soju beverages has released a variety of flavors—such as fruit-flavored Soju—to meet consumers’ needs. 


소주에도 종류가 많다는거 알고 있었나요? 
Sojuedo jongnyuga mantaneungeo algo isseonnayo?
“Did you know that there are many types of Soju?”

네, 최근에 과일맛 소주도 나왔더라구요. 
Ne, choegeune gwailmat sojudo nawatdeoraguyo.
“Yes, there was a fruit-flavored Soju recently.”

7) 갈비 (galbi)

갈비 (galbi), which means “ribs” in Korean, is one of the most famous Korean dishes. It’s usually made with beef short ribs.


갈비 1인분 주세요. 
Galbi irinbun juseyo.
“I’d like to order one portion of galbi, please.”

8) 한복 (hanbok)

Hanbok is a traditional Korean clothing item that Koreans wear on special occasions such as Harvest Day, New Year’s Day, and so on. 


한복 너무 이쁘다. 나도 입어보고 싶어.
Hanbok neomu ippeuda. Nado ibeobogo sipeo.
“Hanbok is so pretty. I want to wear it too.”

그래? 광화문 가자! 거기서 한복 렌탈해주는곳 많아!
Geurae? Gwanghwamun gaja! Geogiseo hanbok rentalhaejuneungot manna!
“Yeah? Let’s go to Gwanghwamun then! There are many places where you can rent Hanbok!”

Other English Words Derived from Korean

  • 고추장 (gochujang) – “spicy pepper paste”
  • 막걸리 (makgeolri) – “rice wine”
  • 합기도 (hapgido) – “Korean martial art” 
  • 한글 (hangeul) – “Korean language”  
  • 김밥 (gimbap) – “Korean seaweed rice roll” 

How Can Help With Your Korean Learning

In summary, we’ve explained the definition of “Konglish” and introduced you to some Konglish examples and loanwords. Which of these Konglish words is your favorite? Let us know in the comments! We look forward to hearing from you.

You can continue learning about Konglish and the Korean language on the following pages:

And of course, provides so much more for our learners. From free resources and vocabulary lists to video and audio lessons for learners at every level, there’s so much in store for you. Create your free lifetime account and start learning Korean like never before with our fun and effective materials!

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A Brief Overview of Korean Culture


Every country has its own unique culture and South Korea is no exception. Understanding Korean culture and traditions is important if you’re planning to travel, study, or work in South Korea. This knowledge will also help you acquire the more advanced levels of the Korean language, since many idioms and old sayings are based on Korean culture. Finally, learning about South Korean culture will help you better understand the beliefs and customs of South Koreans, broaden your worldview, and make it possible to build closer relationships during your stay. 

Before we dive in, here are four interesting Korean culture facts:

1. You must take off your shoes when you enter someone’s house.

2. Korean women have little problem showing off their legs, but are very conservative about showing cleavage. 

3. Lots of Korean people, especially younger Koreans, can speak decent English.

4. Korean men are expected to pay for dinner when on a date.

And this only scratches the surface! Keep reading for more practical information about the culture of South Korea. By the way, we encourage you to check out “Korean Etiquette: 7 Do’s and Don’ts in Korea” and  “10 Korean Hand Gestures You Need to Know” on our blog to learn even more Korean culture specifics.

Now let’s dive in!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean Table of Contents
  1. Values and Beliefs
  2. Family and Work
  3. Food
  4. Traditional Holidays
  5. How Our Website Can Help You Master Korean

1. Values and Beliefs

A Statue of Confucius

A- 유교사상 (yugyosasang) – “Confucianism”

유교사상 (yugyosasang), or “Confucianism,” has had a major influence on Korean culture

It emphasizes the importance of harmonious human interactions and promotes the idea that relationships are unequal, defined by hierarchical roles. Confucianism formally believes that when you accept and respect inequality, it becomes a lot easier to maintain healthy, harmonious relationships with the people around you. 

In Korean culture, Confucianism plays a large role in how people interact with each other. Here are just a few examples:

  • Families are more important than individuals.
  • Men and women have separate roles.
  • Loyalty is an important trait to have.
  • Elders should be respected and obeyed.

However, Confucianism is slowly fading away and the younger generations are becoming more and more Westernized and individualistic. Moreover, younger Koreans reject the traditional idea of gender roles and promote gender equality. 

B- 철학과 종교 (cheolhakgwa jonggyo) – “Korean Philosophies and Religions”

In South Korea, all of the world’s major 종교 (jonggyo), or “religions,” peacefully coexist. 

A few popular religions and belief systems in South Korea include: 

  • 기독교 (gidokgyo) – “Christianity”
  • 불교 (bulgyo) – “Buddhism”
  • 유교 (yugyo) – “Confucianism”
  • 이슬람 (iseullam) – “Islam”

불교 (bulgyo), or “Buddhism,” arrived in Korea in 372, and since then, many Buddhist temples have been built across the country. 유교 (yugyo), or “Confucianism,” was adopted as the state ideology during the Joseon Dynasty and became extremely influential to the Korean culture. 

천주교 (cheonjugyo), or “Catholicism” was introduced to Korea in the late 조선시대 (joseonsidae), or “Joseon Era.” During that time, people who followed the Roman Catholic religion were subjected to persecution, but the religion continued to spread across the country. 

To learn more on the topic of religion in South Korea, you can check out the following materials on

Korean People Wear Hanbok on Special Occasions

2. Family and Work

Family and work are two key components in any society, so learning about Korean customs and beliefs concerning these topics will help you more easily integrate into the culture. 

A- 가족 우선주의 (gajok useonjuui) – “Family Always Comes First”

Korean culture values 가족 (gajok), or “family,” even placing family before the individual. 

For example, Koreans believe that every member of the family is connected and that the actions of one family member reflect on the entire family. Therefore, if someone commits a crime or does something wrongful to another person/group/society, it will put shame on that person’s entire family. This belief is influenced by Confucianism, which emphasizes the importance of putting family first, showing loyalty, and respecting elders. 

If you’re interested in learning more about Korean family culture, check out our blog articles:

You can also study our useful Korean family-related vocabulary lists:

B- 개인 업적보다 팀워크 (gaein eopjeokboda timwokeu) – “Teamwork Over Individuality”

Korean culture has clear hierarchical structures in the workplace. The higher your position, the more power and respect you will have. Therefore, the work environment can be very tough for those who are new to the workforce or company, since they’re at the bottom of the hierarchical structure. Their opinions won’t carry as much weight in team meetings, it will be difficult to say “no” to managers, and colleagues who have been working at the company for many years may purposely put them in difficult situations just for being new.

Also, Korean companies value “teamwork,” so team building events are very important to them. These events could focus only on your team members, though sometimes the whole company will participate. Usually, the group will go to the countryside together and stay there over the weekend. For younger employees, there will be parties in the evening as well.  

Here are a few useful Korean work-related vocabulary lists for you to review:

A Korean Lady in a Pink Hanbok

3. Food

한국의 음식 문화 (hangugui eumsik munhwa), or “Korean food culture,” is a crucial topic to study before heading over to South Korea!

쌀 (ssal), or “rice,” is the main staple of the Korean diet. It’s usually accompanied by side dishes such as various kimchis, vegetables, and soups. 

김치 (gimchi), or “kimchi,” is one of the most popular Korean dishes. Kimchi is fermented cabbage with a mix of vegetables and spicy pepper powder. Popular kimchi vegetables include cucumbers, radishes, and green onions. Beef and pork are very expensive in Korea, so the Korean diet usually focuses more on vegetables and fish. 

In Korea, it’s common to fight over who pays the bill at a restaurant, but people who are older or of a higher status are usually expected to pay. When at a restaurant with friends, you’ll have to act appropriately depending on the atmosphere. Younger people prefer to either ‘go dutch,’ or pay for one meal and expect his/her friend to pay for the meal next time.

Feeling hungry yet? Here are some useful food-related materials on our website:

4. Traditional Holidays

There are a few 한국의 전통 명절 (hangugui jeontong myeongjeol), or “traditional Korean holidays,” that you should know about before your visit. 

Koreans believe their ancestors are protecting their family, so it’s very important to keep their ancestors’ memorial days. Several times a year, family members gather together and celebrate their ancestors. This is commonly done on the Korean ‘Thanksgiving’ holiday 추석 (chuseok) and on 설날 (seollal), or “New Year’s Day.” 

Korean women (especially daughters-in-law) cook traditional Korean food and bring it to the ancestors’ graves. Traditionally, men are not allowed to be in the kitchen because Korean mothers don’t like seeing their sons help their wife cook and wash dishes. However, this traditional notion is slowly changing. Nowadays, the celebration happens less frequently, families rarely gather together, and men more actively help in the kitchen.

Interested in learning more about traditional Korean holidays? We have several lessons and blog posts we think you’ll love! 

Many Layers of Mountains in Korea

5. How Our Website Can Help You Master Korean

In this Korean culture overview, you learned about the most crucial elements of life in South Korea, from Confucianism to popular dishes. If you would like to learn even more about Korean culture, we recommend visiting our Korean Culture Class lessons. They will take you on a journey through South Korea with an assortment of tips, cultural points, and practical insight. Here are a few lesson series we recommend:

We hope you enjoyed this lesson! If you have any further Korean culture questions, please leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you. Good luck with your Korean studies and have a great day!

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