“No-smoking” in Korean!

The word for “smoke” in Korean is 연기. The first syllable also makes an appearance in the related words 흡연자 (smoker) and 흡연하다 (the more official way of saying “to smoke,” as opposed to the more casual 피우다). The Sino-Korean word for “forbid” is 금지하다. When you combine the syllables for “forbid” and “smoke” you get the word 금연 (no smoking) as seen in the above sign. In sentence form, you will often hear Koreans say, 여기는 금연이에요 (This area is non-smoking). Or for more advanced learners: 최근에 법이 바뀌어서 이제 한국에 있는 모든 바닷가는 금연 구역이 됐어요 (The laws changed recently and now all of the beaches in Korea are no-smoking). The sentence at the bottom of the pole says that if people do smoke, they will be subject to a fine of 50,000 won.  #korea#korean#learnkorean#hangul#learnhangul#tourkorea#koreatrip#gangneung#learnkoreanlanguage#koreanlanguage#

Categories: Learn Korean with Pictures! | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Advanced Korean Vocabulary: Food-related Expressions!

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Basic Korean: Talking about the Olympics in Pyeongchang! (Bonus: How to pronounce Pyeongchang!)

This lecture covers basic Korean phrases related to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Get in touch if you have any specific questions that were not addressed in the video.

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Whose pyun are you on, anyway?

How’s everyone been?
This is my first new post in two years!
Gonna try a little harder from now on.

Stay tuned!


There are a few ways of expressing the idea of “direction” in Korean: 방향, 방면, 쪽 etc., but the focus of today’s class will be words and phrases derived from the Chinese character 편 (便), which is more akin to the word “side” in English.

This word is used idiomatically as well as in its more concrete sense. For example, as we might, in English, say that a certain building is located “on the other side of the street,” but we could just as easily entreat someone to “Please take my side on this,” so too can “편” be used for the concrete physical “side” or a thing and the more abstract “on my side” style of usage.

Without further ado, here is a list of must-know phrases stemming from this word:


Idiomatic Usage

1. Who’s side are you on, anyway?

도대체 누구 편이야? (“도대체” is a phrase intensifier akin to “what on earth” or “where in the world” etc., but in this case is more naturally translated to “anyway”)

2. I thought you were on my side.

네가 내 편인 줄 알았는데…

3. I’m always on your side.

난 항상 네 편이야! (This sentences functions with our without “이다” attached to the end.)

4. You know I’m always on your side, right?

나는 항상 네 편인 거 알지?

5. I’m always on Dad’s side!

나는 항상 아빠 편!


Standard Usage

1. The opposite side (of the road, lake, river etc.)
건너편, 맞은 편

2. It’s on the opposite side of the road.
길 건너편에 있다.

3. The coffee shop is just across from Shinchon Station.

그 커피숍은 신촌역 건너편에 있다.


The character “편” also frequently pops up in other commonly used words, such as “편애하다 (to favor a certain child or student, to practice favoritism),” “편식하다 (to be a picky eater or to eat a lopsided diet)” and “편 들다 (to take a side).” Here are some examples with those words.

1. 우리 선생님은 항상 걔를 편애하시는 것 같아.
Our teacher is always playing favorites. (Lit. Our teacher always seems to favor that kid.)

2. Favoritism has no place in the classroom!
학교에서 편애가 있어서는 안 된다.

3. I’m not a picky eater. I’ll eat anything!
나는 편식 안 하고 뭐든지 잘 먹어.

4. You always take his side!
항상 걔 편 들잖아!

5. I’m not going to take anyone’s side.
누구 편도 안 들 거예요.

6. 이 논쟁에서 네가 누군가의 편을 드는 게 옳지 않을 것 같다.
I don’t think it’s right for you to take sides in this argument.

Categories: All Levels, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Welcome to Korean Champ!

There are a lot of sites out there that teach elementary Korean. There is also an abundance of free basic Korean classes around Seoul. But what happens when you’ve finished the highest level that your hakwon offers? What is one to do when you’ve gone as far as you can in the Korean-language educational system?

Chances are that once you’ve gotten to that point, you’ve just realized how much further you have to go. You’ve climbed atop the highest lily pad in your pond only to see the vastness of Korean unfurl before you like an ocean. What do you do now?

You can head over to Yonsei, “the Mecca of Korean-language education” (ahem), to take Level 7, if they have enough students to open it that semester. But what to do when you’re done with that?

This is exactly the dilemma I faced: After finishing Level 6 way back in 2005, I was overflowing with zeal to continue my language studies but advanced Korean is almost impossible to find.

The truth is, you may feel that you are pretty slick if you’ve persevered all the way through Level 6 in your Korean class, but your Korean vocabulary is probably still more limited than the English vocabulary of any Korean you’ll come across.

In other words: Level 6 is the beginning of your Korean education — not the end. But after Level 6, you are on your own. And that can be very discouraging.

Koreans hoping to study advanced English have an almost unlimited variety of fun and innovative methods for studying English: signing up for the American sitcoms class at the local hakwon, attending debate classes, studying advanced essay-writing. But what do we have? Tackling the next dry-as-a-wafer Korean text from the 1970s on our own?

I made this site to share study methods and free Korean-language study materials. I hope it is informative and fun for all. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Good Luck!


Categories: All Levels, On Korean | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

New Korean Video: Ordering Coffee in Korean!

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New YouTube Channel!

Hi, everyone!

Since I began making my videos on the Korean language, I’ve been posting them on my main YouTube channel, English in Korean. To make it easier for everyone to find the videos they’re looking for, I decided to make a new channel just for the Korean-learning videos.

Here’s the link!


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Korean Vacation Part 2: Gangnam!

여행: vacation
대충대충: halfheartedly
강: river
남(쪽): south
하천, 도랑: stream, creek
북쪽: north
동쪽: east
서쪽: west

군중: a crowd
붐벼요: It’s crowded.
빵: bread
빵집: bakery
학원: a private institute

교통 신호: a traffic signal
축구: soccer (football)
응원해요: I’m cheering (for my team)
친구: friend
친구랑 산책해요: I’m taking a walk with my friend.
약: medicine
약국: a pharmacy
식당: a restaurant
사주: astrology, horoscope
궁합: astrological compatibility

버스를 기다리고 있어요: I am / we are / they are waiting for the bus.
골목: an alley
좁은 골목: a narrow alley
금연: no smoking
위반하다: a transgression / to commit an offense
벌금: a fine
부과되다: to be levied

건축: architecture
건물: a building
독특해요: singular, interesting
폭포: a waterfall
~문고: bookstore (only used in proper names of bookstores)
서점: a bookstore
책방: a bookstore
책: a book

놀아요: I’m out (partying, drinking)
놀러 가요: I’m heading out (to drink, club etc)
담배: cigarette
관심사: interests

Categories: All Levels, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Korean Vacation Part 1!

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English in Korean on YouTube

Hi, everyone! I’m finally back!

I’m kicking off a new series called “Korean Vacation,” in which we’ll explore cool places in Korea and learn easy Korean phrases along the way. I’m going to be posting new videos every 10 days from now on, so check back often.

In the premiere episode, we check out a beautiful stream that runs through the heart of Seoul called, Cheonggyecheon (청계천).


Here’s the vocab we covered in this episode.

시위: demonstration
광장: a public square
폭포: waterfall
동전: coin
물: water
물 주세요: Please give me some water.
돌: stone
다리: bridge
다리 건넜어요: I crossed the bridge
친구: friend
산책하다: to take a walk
경찰: police
횡단보도: crosswalk
입구: entrance
출구: exit
화장실: restroom
계단: stairs
쓰레기: trash
쓰레기통: a trashcan
재활용: recycling
물놀이: playing in the water
쉬고 있어요: I’m relaxing
야생동물: wildlife
사진: picture
사진 봐요: I’m looking at the pictures
사진 찍다: to take a picture
벽: wall
학: crane
식물: plant
물고기: fish
풀: grass
나무: tree
하천, 개울, 도랑: brook, creek, stream
일석이조: Killing two birds with one stone
사물놀이: a kind of traditional Korean music performed with four percussion instruments


Categories: All Levels, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

한국어 관용어 사전!


제가 2010년부터 작업해온 ‘한국어 관용어 사전’이 드디어 서점에 나왔어요! 하지만 제가 가본 모든 서점에는 거의 숨겨놓은 것처럼 안 보이는 데 진열되어 있었어요 ㅎㅎ. 원래 한국어 배우는 외국인을 위해서 쓴 것이지만 한국 속담이나 관용 표현들을 영어로 어떻게 말하는지 궁금해하는 한국인한테도 많은 도움이 될 것 같아요.

This is the “Dictionary of Korean Idioms” that I’ve been working on since 2010. I hope it becomes an invaluable resource for students of Korean the world over.

Categories: On Korean | 4 Comments

Korean to the Nth Degree!

If you’ve been pounding away at Korean for more than for few months now, you’re probably already familiar with the Korean suffix “도.” It is equivalent to “degree” in English and is attached to the end of a number to express the temperature, as in “38도 (38 degrees)” etc. It is also the word used to describe the degrees of an angle, so “180도 달라졌어요,” just as in English, means that something has changed completely, or by 180 degrees.

When this word is used in its broader sense, however, as in, “You didn’t have to take it to that degree” etc., the Chinese character 도 (度) combines with 정 (程) to create the word, 정도. This is the Korean word for “level,” “degree” or “extent.” Bear in mind, though, that this is not the “level” from “I’m in Level 3,” but rather the “level” from “I never imagined you would take it to that level” etc.

It’s a good rule of thumb that whenever you see a word that ends with “도,” you can assume that it has something to do with degrees or levels. A similarly used word is “급 (級),”  but let’s save that for another lesson.

Let’s take a look at some examples that make use of the word, “정도.”

나는 그 사람이 그 정도로 한국말을 잘할 줄 몰랐다.

I never realized he spoke Korean that well.

그 정도는 너무 지나친 것 아니야?

That’s really taking it too far.

우리 사이에서 적어도 그 정도는 해줘야 한다고 생각하지 않아?

At this point in our relationship, don’t you think you owe me at least that much.

These are some of the most commonly used words that contain the “do” suffix for “level”:

빈도: frequency
이 지역은 교통사고 발생 빈도가 높은 곳이다.

고도: elevation
고도가 높은 산에 오를 때는 정상에서 기온이 갑자기 떨어질 수 있으므로 주의해야 한다.

각도: angle
어떤 각도에서 찍느냐에 따라 얼굴이 달라 보인다.

밀도: density
서울은 인구 밀도가 매우 높은 도시이다.

인지도: level of recognition
제품의 인지도를 높이기 위해서는 TV 광고가 필수적이다.

온도: temperature
에너지 절약을 위해 겨울철 실내 난방 온도를 20℃ 이하로 제한해야 한다.

강도: strength
지난 달부터 체력을 기르기 위해 강도 높은 운동을 시작했다.

난이도: level of difficulty
이번 시험에서는 언어 영역의 난이도가 높았다.

해상도: resolution (of a screen etc.)
이번에 출시한 스마트폰은 뛰어난 해상도를 자랑한다.

과도하다: excessive, to much (adj.)
그는 많은 유산을 받았지만 과도한 지출로 결국 파산하고 말았다.

Categories: Level 3, Level 4, Level 5, Level 6, Undisputed Champion! | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments