Boost Your Korean Reading and Writing: 4 Great Suggestions

If you’re studying Korean, it’s important to learn how to read Korean and write it well. However, for those accustomed to the Roman alphabet, it can be a daunting task to memorize all the new characters of hangul, the Korean alphabet.

If you’re feeling intimidated by the prospect of learning a completely different writing system, don’t fret: there are plenty of things you can do to kick your language skills into high gear and learn how to read Korean fast.

Study your hangul in these four ways, and your Korean friends and connections are sure to be astonished by how well you read and write.

Lit signs in hangul to learn how to read koreanImage via Philippe Teuwen / flickr


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1. Read Poems

Perhaps the most obvious way to learn how to read Korean is to do just that: read! Fortunately, South Korea has a great literary tradition — there’s plenty of great Korean-language material for you to dive into.

However, South Korea’s contemporary poetry is especially good for learners, for several reasons. First, it uses modern, evocative language that will expand your vocabulary.

Second, poems are short and easy to follow. This makes them ideal for a quick read when you have a spare few minutes.

And finally, you’ll impress your Korean friends and colleagues with your knowledge of their most well-known poets of the present.

Recommended reading: The Person I Love by Ho-seung Jung, whose poems are known for their simplicity and clear, precise language.

2. Watch Movies With Subtitles

Some of South Korea’s films have gained international attention, most notably the intense drama Oldboy, which even received its own English-language remake. However, many excellent Korean films are still relatively unknown outside of the country.

Watching these films with subtitles will give you a great idea of the connection between spoken and written speech. For beginners, first, use English subtitles. Then, watch the movie again with Korean subtitles to get an idea of how certain words and phrases are translated.

Recommended movie: Seopyonje, known as one of the most influential films in South Korea, is about a family of musical performers who fight the harsh realities associated with their low social status.

Sign in hangul, perfect to practice your hangul readingImage via Pixabay

3. Sing Karaoke

K-pop is wildly popular in South Korea. And especially in the past few years, it has spread to the English-speaking world as well.

There’s no doubt that listening to K-pop is a great way to hone your listening skills. But try singing along to these songs karaoke-style (simply search for the name of the song followed by “karaoke” on YouTube).  You’ll have the chance to practice your Hangul reading and speaking skills, too.

As a bonus, being able to sing along to popular K-pop tunes is guaranteed to delight and impress your Korean-speaking friends.

Recommended song: Gangnam Style, whose music video is one of the most-viewed videos of all time on YouTube.

4. Study With an Excellent Coursebook

For beginners or those who are serious about learning the intricacies of hangul, a high-quality coursebook is a great investment.

They contain plenty of reading and writing exercises. These are paired with clear, detailed explanations of the logic behind the Korean writing system.

They are especially useful for beginners who are not yet familiar enough with the Korean alphabet to read poetry or sing karaoke.

Recommended coursebooks: For beginners, Elementary Korean, which strikes the elusive combination of detailed information and an engaging presentation. For advanced students, Advanced Korean will provide you with the tools you need to up your fluency, especially in writing.

If the prospect of learning an entirely new alphabet intimidates you, don’t worry. Practicing your Hangul reading and writing doesn’t have to be a struggle.

With this list, you can improve your language skills while having fun singing karaoke, watching movies, or reading poetry. If you want more practice, check out the rest of our Korean-language book, song, film, and course book reviews — you’ll master the complexities of hangul in no time.

Of course, the fastest way to learn how to read Korean and improve your Korean language skills is to take tailor-made lessons from a qualified teacher. Consult our Korean course and package options, and watch your language skills really take off.

Explore our Korean courses with qualified native speakers in your city or online!

 Editor’s note: Article updated on August 2nd, 2021.