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Korean for Tourists

Korean for Tourists

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Korean for Tourists

98 pages
53 minutes
Jan 1, 2020


Order a beer, ask for a discount, and get around Korea easier – learn a few basics and have an even better time.

This language guide is your way to leapfrog other tourists and know what's really going on. They're written to be read quickly (like on the plane!) and be a reference guide once you've arrived. Each major section is linked to other major sections, making them only a tap away.

A few highlights:

  • A thorough but easy-to-follow primer on hangeul, Korea's alphabet
  • Numbers, money, and plenty of practical stuff
  • The different types of hotels, and how to tell the difference
  • Food, glorious food! What to try and how to order it
  • How to get around the country by plane, bus, or train

This is the Korean language book for people that don't like learning languages.

Worthy Go's mission is to make travel awesome, and to set you up to succeed. With language books, that means giving you the basics to making yourself understood. This is not a complete guide to the Korean language, so there's no fancy grammar points. No irrelevant vocabulary. If there's a fair chance you'll use it as a tourist, it's here, along with some local knowledge and humor.

Buy now and start exploring the awesome side of Korea.

About the author

Chris Backe (rhymes with hockey) has written about travel since 2008 and has been around the world a couple of times. He's written over 30 books, and has been seen in Atlas Obscura, io9, Mental Floss, Everything Everywhere, Perceptive Travel, Travel Wire Asia, and many other publications. When not traveling, he loves tabletop games and a glass of white wine.

Jan 1, 2020

About the author

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Korean for Tourists - Chris Backe

Other itineraries in the Worthy Go series

Cities: Amsterdam, Bangkok, Bogota, Bucharest, Budapest, Chiang Mai, Istanbul, Lima, Medellin, Quito, Seattle, Seoul, Tallinn, Toronto, Vientiane, Zagreb

Countries / regions: Laos, Central Thailand, Northern Thailand, South Korea

More info at worthygo.com.

Other guidebooks by Chris Backe

48 Daytrip Destinations From Seoul

Becoming a Digital Nomad

An Introduction to Thailand

Korean for Tourists

Korean Made Easy

Offbeat Korea

Offbeat Thailand

What the Florida


Hangeul ~ Basics ~ Numbers~ Practical stuff~ Shopping~ Money~ Clothing~ Eat~ Drink~ Travel~ Sleep~ Get well~ Flirt~ Emergencies ~ Slang~ Sizes

This book is put together with one purpose in mind: make it as easy as possible to say what you want to say. Simple as that. We'll start a primer to hangeul, the Korean alphabet so you can read anything you see, but every phrase that's shown in Korean is also shown in pronounceable English. To skip to any other section in the book, look for the row of links at the top of some pages (like the one above)

If you’re interested in really learning the language, consider checking out my other book, Korean Made Easy. That book features thousands of the most commonly used words and phrases, along with enough grammar points to get you familiar with the language. It’s also done up in an irreverent way to keep you laughing while you’re learning.


Although the author has made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at publication time (© January 2020), the author does not assume and hereby disclaims any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.

Be aware that traveling in a foreign country has inherent risks, and seemingly anything can change overnight. Places may close, admission fees may rise, drivers will drive crazy, and public transportation routes can be altered. Stay aware of your surroundings, employ street smarts and common sense, and in general be suspicious of locals that approach you speaking English.

Unless otherwise noted, all material in this book is the legal property of the author and may not be reprinted or republished without the author's express written consent, with the exception of short quotes for academic or review purposes.

Getting started with hangeul

Hangeul ~ Basics ~ Numbers~ Practical stuff~ Shopping~ Money~ Clothing~ Eat~ Drink~ Travel~ Sleep~ Get well~ Flirt~ Emergencies ~ Slang~ Sizes

Say hello to hangeul:

The good news about learning hangeul (and by extension Korean) is two-fold: it’s phonetic, so a given letter will sound the same 98% of the time. Second, it was intentionally designed to be easy to learn. Go back to the early 15th century and the days of King Sejong. The average Korean couldn’t read the hanja, or the Chinese symbols that the elites used. In his infinite wisdom, Sejong got his people working on an alphabet that could be learned in a matter of hours. While hangeul was originally derided for its simplicity, it’s part of the reason Korea has such a high literacy rate.

When a Korean sees the letter , they make a sound like the 'ah' sound in 'father'. Therefore, the letter gets transliterated as 'a' and is (theoretically) pronounced the same in either language — ‘ah’. We'll always transliterate sounds, not letters.

Korean letters are grouped into syllables, also called characters or blocks. One syllable equals one sound. Each syllable has at least one consonant and one vowel, in correspondence with the principles of yin and yang. One element balances out the other. Consonants are shaped after vocal organs (your lips, throat, or tongue), while vowels are based on heaven, ground, and people. Every syllable has to start with a consonant — if need be, we’ll use a specific Korean consonant as a placeholder (). No one Korean letter stands by itself. Each syllable starts with a consonant on the top or left, and works its way down or right, like this:

C:\Users\Chris\Desktop\KME 3 photos for e-reader\ScreenHunter_45 Dec. 24 18.58.jpg Or this: C:\Users\Chris\Desktop\KME 3 photos for e-reader\ScreenHunter_46 Dec. 24 18.58.jpg

Behold — the consonants (in Korean alphabetical order)

(hard g / soft k) — gum, go, card, king, keep. Go ahead, say the words out loud. That first sound out of your mouth was the first letter of Korean. The in Korean is pronounced about halfway between a ‘guh’ and a ‘kuh’. Think about how the 'g' and 'k' in ‘gum’ and ‘king’ sound pretty close, even though they’re two different letters. There are a few examples of this in the Korean alphabet.

(n) — numb,

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