Korean Language

So if takes more than a few giggles to turn you off, there are two things we think you should know when preparing yourself for the language barrier ahead. First, is how to use the Papago Korean language app for translation. Second, are some phrases to impress the locals. And, if you have time, we heard some people can learn to read Korean in under 1 week. One Week! The Korean language is made up of letters not unlike English. Therefore, if you learn the sound for each character you'll be well on your way to impressing your friends.


Saying a few words in Korean can mean the world to locals here. Sure, there may be a few giggles but the takeaway is they're not laughing at you, they're just so happy you tried.



Watch the video to better understand the world Papago can open up.

Step 2.

Download Papago for your trip.

I have been using this app for years and really don't know how I would get around without it. I use it while on the subway and during line transfers but have also found it usefulThe Subway in particular is good because it will get you to many places while avoiding traffic. Check out the video to better understand how best to use the map when you are on the go.

Phrases to Know

We've listed some phrases below to help you out. We've broken each syllable down to how we understand the sound after living here for over 10 years. One group of Korean letters is equivalent to one syllable in English letters.

Tip: The similar English sounds guide how to read the English sounds above.

Would you like more phrases? Let us know below and we'll get straight onto that for you, and others coming to Korea for the first time.

Learn to Read

Learning to read in another language is not something everyone can do. It's a skill set like driving a car or being able to operate Windows on your laptop. And given both took a while to master, learning to read Korean may sound daunting, we know. But memorize the character sounds later. Instead, why not try to read Korean straight away? Use the tools below and you'll be on your way to reading out a menu in front of your friends.

Korean Syllable

Reading Order

A Korean word like the one above is read from left to right, just like English. Recognize the word? Sahmsawng or Samseong is one of Korea's biggest companies.

Just like English a Korean Syllable is made up of a consonant and vowels. It is read from top left to right and then down.

Korean Consonants

Korean Vowels

12* ㅇwhen a vowel is the first sound in a syllable this character is placed before it. In this case (ㅇ) has no sound. Example 아 (20.) =ah or 으 (24.) = ew

15* ㅅwhen before a vertical vowel this character has a (sh) sound. Example 시 (15. and 25.) =shi or 셔 (15. and 29.) = shaw

Don't worry too much about memorizing yet, let's have some fun instead. Sound out the words below left to right, and then down, using the consonants and vowel sounds tabled above. The faster you say the syllables together out loud, the more they will blend into a recognizable word. Who knows you may even know the word. When you think you've got it, check it! Oh yeah, if you look really closely you will see we numbered the characters just to make your life a little easier. Remember, we're called Easy in Korea.


Okay, by now we think you may be realizing that reading Korean is definitely possible. To give you a taste of what reading Korean in Korea we have included two real-world examples for practice. To develop your reading even further we suggest looking up