5 K-Pop Songs That Will Make You Want to Know Korean
K-Pop is Korea’s top cultural export today. The genre is a mix of modern music, including pop, rock, and hip-hop, with traditional Korean styles. It has become a global phenomenon thanks to its addictive melodies, striking synchronized choreographies, and attractive singers.
Its popularity makes K-Pop one of the best ways to learn the Korean language: there are plenty of songs available covering all topics, as well as videos with subtitled lyrics. Besides, music is one of the best ways to sharpen your language skills, as once a song is stuck in your head, you will start to learn new vocabulary and distinguish sounds.
Plus, K-Pop is a particularly great tool for English speakers hoping to learn Korean. K-Pop uses a lot of English in its lyrics, meaning you have a head start at contextualizing the Korean words used.
Want to give K-Pop a chance? Let’s take a look at 5 essential songs that will help you sharpen your Korean skills!
1. “Inception” by ATEEZ
ATEEZ is an up-and-coming band in the K-Pop scene, as they definitely know how to reach their fans’ hearts with their songs.
“Inception” is one of the most popular songs in South Korea right now, and has won many awards for its catchy tune and heartfelt lyrics. One of them is the prize given by SBS The Show, one of the most popular singing contests in the country.
It describes what one feels when falling in love, like excitement and awe. Further, this song is a great resource for understanding the Korean present tense, since the poetic persona narrates how he feels when he falls for someone else, like in this line:
찰나의 순간 그 눈맞춤
Eyes meet in that short instant
2. “Because I’m a Girl” by KISS
Even though this song was released in 2001, it is still very popular in South Korea. Actually, if you happen to do some karaoke while visiting this country, chances are you going to hear it, or maybe even sing it yourself!
It is about a girl who falls in love but ends up with a broken heart. This is reflected in the slow pace of the song, which makes it easy for beginners to understand. Listen past the sweet melody and you will discover that this track is also great for learning the present and future tenses.
너를 욕하면서도 많이 그리울꺼야
Although I will curse you, I’ll still miss you
아직도 널 너무 사랑하는데
I still love you, I still love you
So, although the pace of the song makes it easy for learners of all levels to understand, it may be better suited for intermediate-level or higher students who are already familiar with a wide variety of tenses.
3. “I Don’t Care” by 2NE1
Have you ever wanted to teach a lesson to a self-centered ex? The best way you can do that, according to this song, is by acting as if you did not care.
This song is ideal for intermediate and advanced students who are looking to brush up their knowledge of informal vocabulary and phrases, like:
I’d rather keep it simple
이젠 정말 상관 안할게 비켜줄래
From now on, I really don’t care, I’ll get out of the way
Still, beginners who are looking for a challenge may also enjoy it and understand the gist of the song, since the singers use lots of English phrases, like “I don’t care” and “I won’t let it ride.” You will find yourself humming this tune during the day thanks to its catchy and upbeat tune, but summon the courage to sing it aloud; you will see how much easier it is to remember Korean words and phrases when you speak them!
4. “DNA” by BTS
One of the aspects that speakers of Western languages find difficult with Korean is using the right word order, so what better way to practice that than by singing to this melodic song? Some of the lines you may need to repeat a few times to get the hang of this are:
숨이 멎는 게 참 이상해
breath stopping so strange
(It’s so strange that my breath keeps stopping.)
내 심장은 널 향해 뛰니까
my heart you towards beat because
(Because my heart only beats for you.)
이 모든 건 우연이 아니니까
this everything coincidence not because
(Because all of this is not a coincidence.)
As you can see, the Korean language uses the Subject–Object–Verb word order, unlike the Subject–Verb–Object word order used in English. Although this can take some time to master, do not get discouraged! With practice, you will eventually start to form Korean sentences with ease.
5. “Kill This Love” by Blackpink
This song by Korea’s most popular girl band, Blackpink, is ideal for beginners who want to practice what they have just seen in class. Much of the lyrics are in English, which helps a lot to give context to the parts in Korean. Another benefit is that the song is grammatically simple. For example, if you are getting started with the present tense, singing the first stanzas of the song will help you to internalize this grammar structure!
천사 같은 “hi” 끝엔 악마 같은 “bye”
After a sweet “Hi”, there’s always a bitter “Bye”
매번 미칠듯한 high 뒤엔 뱉어야 하는 price
After every crazy high, there’s a price you have to pay
All in all, music is one of the best ways to learn a language. Not only will it motivate you, but it will help you understand the language and culture, as well. And remember, if you like these songs, there are plenty more K-Pop artists for you to discover! You can give a listen to some of our favorite ones on our K-Pop Spotify Playlist.
If you want to see how much your Korean skills have improved after practicing with these songs, you can take our FREE Korean listening test for beginners, and if you feel like you need help tackling some difficult language points, explore our online Korean group courses.