Korean Music: 30 Easy and Catchy Korean Songs for Language Learners
Modern Korean culture is rich with colorful, lively songs for getting your singing groove on.
Aside from Korean movies, K-dramas and fun videos, getting into Korean songs might be the most fun way to teach yourself the language.
Music in Korean is 음악 (eu-mak), while songs are called 노래 (no-rae)—and you’ll pick up more vocabulary as you get to know the songs below.
Here’s a roundup of some of the best easy Korean songs for brushing up on your listening skills, with K-Pop and traditional songs included!
- Easy Korean Songs from Solo Female Artists
- Easy Korean Songs from Solo Male Artists
- Learn Korean with Songs from K-Pop Girl Bands
- Songs in Korean from K-Pop Boy Bands
- Easy Folk and Children Korean Songs to Sing
- What Makes a Korean Song Easy to Understand?
- A Step-by-Step Guide for Learning Korean with Songs
Easy Korean Songs from Solo Female Artists
“U&I” — Ailee
Here’s one from someone considered the “Korean Beyoncé.” Ailee herself is Korean-American, and her songs reflect both of her nationalities.
“U&I” rose to the top of the charts literally within minutes of its release. It takes on the perspective of an empowered female who stands strong even after a breakup, steadfast in her refusal to give in to the pleas of her ex.
The lyrics feature questions and casual language, including the ever-critical expression of annoyance towards another person: 왜 이러니? (weh ee-ruh-nee?) — “Why are you being like this?” It also makes extensive use of pronouns and possessives, which can help you learn how they work in general Korean.
Another great trait is that there is a good amount of English included. This makes it easy for you to tune in even if you just started listening, but it also gives you a gist of what the song is about.
“인연” (Fate) — Lee Sun Hee
Used as the theme song for the well-known Korean film “인연” (The King and the Clown), this tells the bittersweet story of a destined love that comes with wistful promises and lingering sorrow. Although it vows reunion between two lovers, you can sense that there is a kind of impenetrable obstacle in the way.
This ballad, written and sung by one of the country’s most beloved female singers, is a celebrated hit with beautiful lyrics that can teach you some of the more poetic elements of the language.
Its style is traditional, so it’s sung in a manner ranging from tempered to striking. The slow and powerful enunciation of each word will make it easy for you to listen and repeat. After the first listen, you probably won’t forget much of what you heard due to the emotional weight (which is great for remembering the lyrics!).
“안녕” (Hello, Goodbye) — Hyorin
“Hello, Goodbye” is a theme song from “My Love from the Star,” one of the most popular Korean TV series of 2014.
It tells the story of a Korean mega actress who hopelessly falls for someone from another planet. (That should clue you in that the “goodbye” in the title involves some sort of nebulous interstellar travel.)
You’ll pick up a lot of Korean from plainly worded and simply structured lines. Watch out for phrases that you can readily use when talking with native speakers. There are plenty of these in the song—phrases that can really beef up your casual Korean conversations.
Easy Korean Songs from Solo Male Artists
“Gentleman” — Psy
Of course, you know who Psy is. He’s the house-dancing phenomenon behind the mega blockbuster “Gangnam Style.” He released “Gentleman” with the full knowledge that it would never be bigger than “Gangnam Style.”
But mind you, the video’s visuals are just as striking, if not more so. This is important, because when learning Korean, you need to employ the virtues of visuals and stories in order to scaffold learning and memory.
“눈,코,입” (Eyes, Nose, Lips) — Taeyang
Here’s one for the heartbreak lovers, and certainly, this song is good at more than just teaching you how to say “eyes,” “nose” and “lips” in Korean. As popular as this song is, the lyrics are surprisingly digestible even for Korean language beginners.
Story-wise, Taeyang belts a song about a man yearning for a girl who has already left. The ghost of her presence haunts him, and so he imagines her physical features that he has memorized.
The vocabulary itself is not very difficult and the phrases are simple. Moreover, there are plenty of words that are used repetitively, so you won’t be struggling as much in absorbing new information.
While this song is not as up-tempo as Taeyang’s other songs, it is still reasonably speedy. It would be best to start learning this song with a good look at the written lyrics first, before catching up to the beat.
“양화대교” (Yanghwa Bridge) — Zion.T
Written as a kind of autobiographical account, the R&B/soul-styled “Yanghwa Bridge” reflects on Zion.T’s growth as a successful singer capable of supporting his parents and his visitation to a place that his father used to frequent. It is the song of a child who wishes for familial happiness and health.
Learners of all levels can enjoy this song for its relaxed beat and mild singing. There is nothing overwhelming about the lyrics or the tempo.
The Korean itself is prose-like, so what you hear and read is properly structured. In a way, the song is like a letter, so you can certainly approach it as one when you are analyzing its contents. You can also learn how to say some pretty common phrases (“Let’s be happy” and “Don’t be sick”) in Korean.
“봄봄봄” (Spring, Spring, Spring) — Roy Kim
If you’re tired of all the woebegone, heart-wrenching love songs, this cheery tune of spring and love is for you.
Also known as “Bom Bom Bom,” the song uses some clear-cut Korean in simple structured sentences, making it great for beginners. Roy Kim also offers some mellow, clean pronunciation, so you can easily follow. Besides that, you get a brief encounter with the past tense in the lyrics “봄이 왔네요” (bom-i wat-ne-yo) — spring came.
The song is pretty good overall for learning some easy, endearing Korean, especially if you’re all with Shakespeare in comparing your loved ones to seasons.
“시간아” (Time) — Nam Woo-hyun
Nam Woo-hyun is one of the charismatic singers of the K-pop boy band “Infinite”.
This 2011 slow solo hit is about a man longing to be reunited with his loved one. He feels pain and confusion as he relives recent memories of the girl he loves telling him that she’s made up her mind that they shouldn’t be together anymore.
This is a song to learn if you wish to convey genuine romantic angst in Korean. It’s very heartfelt, and it features numerous verbs and idioms that convey a range of darker emotions, including pain, nostalgia and chagrin. The connective phrasing also will help you build a sense of fluidity in your speaking.
“너를 위한 빈자리” (The Empty Space for You) — Park Yoo-chun
Park Yoo-chun is a controversial but talented Korean singer. Aside from having made it on his own, he also used to be the leader of JYJ, a popular K-pop group.
This song is a part of the soundtrack for the Korean drama “미스 리플리” (Miss Ripley), which became a hit across Asia. It tells the story of a tormented, impossible love.
A hardened bachelor realizes he’s got feelings for a girl he knows loves him. While hoping that it isn’t the love he’s feeling, he still does his best to protect her and eventually asks that she moves on, but then cries out his love for her.
This song is a fantastic introduction to 반말 (ban-mal or informal speech). It includes numerous declarative and casual sentences to help you gain a grasp of the Korean informal conversational system quickly.
“Beautiful” — Crush
“Beautiful” by Crush (Shin Hyo-seob) is one of the soundtracks of the South Korean drama series “Goblin,” one of the highest-rated dramas on Korean television.
“Beautiful” is ideal for beginners and intermediate language learners. The song pace is slow and you’ll probably be able to sing along comfortably after a few listens.
Once you start singing, you’ll notice that the lines become very easy to memorize because they’re embedded in an otherworldly melody.
Learn Korean with Songs from K-Pop Girl Bands
“여자 이니까” (Because I’m a Girl) — KISS
This is the ultimate tearjerker if ever there was one. The song’s about a young woman who met a dashing photographer, fell in love with him and ended up blind and with a broken heart.
Actually, the song is so much more than that, but I would deprive you of the full experience if I revealed the agonizing twist.
“Because I’m a Girl” readily lends itself to study by language learners. It’s a moderately paced ballad that hooks you with a wonderful story and setting for learning a good deal of Korean words and phrases. It’s perfect for the beginner. The melody, though simple and subtle, can actually grab you by the collar.
“Lonely” — 2NE1
With artistic videos à la Lady Gaga, Korean style, 2NE1 is one of the most notoriously unconventional Korean girl groups.
“Lonely” is about a girl who’s decided to move on from her relationship. She’s feeling lonely and sad about hurting her former beloved but realizes that she needs to pick herself back up.
This song will teach you a lot of idioms and structures to express confusion and uncertainty. The lyrics also incorporate various ways of conveying one’s personal opinion as well as verbs to convey different feelings.
“아파” (It Hurts) — 2NE1
The title itself is a must-know term, but the rest of the song is also rich with learning potential. 2NE1 provides a reflective account of an individual wondering about the state of one’s ex-lover. The speaker laments how much they have changed and wishes for a reunion, though it seems that the pain from the breakup is one-sided.
Much of the song’s theme of loneliness is portrayed as questions, so the lyrics can teach you the elements of how to ask questions in Korean. Overall, there isn’t too much advanced vocabulary, and the idioms and expressions used are helpful to know if you want to convey some good, plain bitterness in an observational manner.
“I Don’t Care” — 2NE1
Ever been involved with a bad boy or a player who imagines himself at the center of an adoring harem? Ever wanted to teach him a lesson? Just act like you don’t care. Well, at least that’s what this song seems to want to convey.
We’re moving on from love songs and picking up the pace with this one. The melody is quite catchy and you’ll find yourself swaying to the beat.
This is one of those songs that could use some dance moves or some strikingly clever hand gestures. Those would really help you more efficiently absorb the vocabulary contained in this song.
“TT” — Twice
Let’s first put the “TT” music video in perspective. At the time it came out in 2016, “TT” set the record for the fastest 10 million views for any K-pop group: 40 hours. Then it set another record for the fastest 20 million views: 114 hours.
“TT” refers to the crying emoticon in which the horizontal line in “T” is the eye, and the vertical line in “T” is the stream of tears. She’s crying from her two eyes, so she’s “just like TT.”
In addition to this short lesson in Korean text-expressions, Korean learners could take away rules about sentence structure and grammar. The material is best suited for intermediate language learners.
“BBoom, BBoom” — Momoland
The nine-member girl group Momoland debuted in 2016 and found themselves at the top of K-pop charts—in large part due to their hit “BBoom, BBoom.”
The title refers to the sound a heart makes when your crush approaches you. The words make up relatively easy sentences that any novice can learn. For example, if you want context to learn body parts in Korean, then you’ll get a kick out of this song.
“Nobody” — Wonder Girls
Released in 2008, Wonder Girls’ “Nobody” is considered a classic, in K-pop terms. It was one of the first K-pop songs to break into the American music scene, proving that Korean content could go toe-to-toe with American music.
The song’s music video is a memorable one with a 50s theme. The song itself has some catchy beats and is ideal for Korean learners who are absolute beginners.
The song has easy lines throughout, so the learning load is manageable. Even the rap section isn’t overwhelming. You can actually sing along and hone your Korean skills while shaking your butt a little bit.
Songs in Korean from K-Pop Boy Bands
“DNA” — BTS
“DNA” is the song that helped BTS have a first crack at the Billboard Hot 100. BTS, or the Bangtan Boys, is a seven-member boy band with a ridiculously large army of social media followers.
But you don’t have to be a serious fan to take advantage of the language lessons available in “DNA.” The lyrics are poetic and full of hope. They’re sometimes a bit abstract, so the song is more appropriate for intermediate to advanced language learners.
“I Need U” — BTS
Proving Korea to be a prodigious boy band factory, here is another one from BTS. You can listen to this song, “I Need U,” for studying the basic structure of Korean sentences.
The lines are simple and will prove advantageous for beginners: you can learn how to build Korean declarative statements as well as interrogatives (questions) just by modeling from the lyrics on this one.
“Growl” — EXO
This one is a smash hit by EXO. The song contains mainly informal Korean vocabulary, the type that you can throw around with peers and people of similar status or age.
Remember that Korean makes discernible distinctions between formal and informal communication. The lyrics are on the edgier side and are great for language learners looking to add well-rounded, punchier material to their arsenal.
“For Life” — EXO
“For Life” is a melodramatic song with breezy piano accompaniment. It’s about a man’s promise to be with one woman for life, loving her for life, being by her side for life.
The recording is quite sharp and crisp, so beginners and intermediate language learners can really listen to the lyrics and make out the words. This is a song that’s full of sentiment, and the emotional context will come in handy as you’re learning the lyrics.
“Fantastic Baby” — BIGBANG
This is a must-know for any K-pop lover. With BIGBANG’s penchant for bumping beats and fast-paced action in their music videos, “Fantastic Baby” includes all the hallmarks critical to the genre.
If you’re into learning Korean spoken at a fast pace, this song is certainly for you. You will definitely be polishing your Korean listening skills if you dissect this song thoroughly, as there are some pretty common phrases and cool action verbs. Be advised that the rapping section requires a bit of a honed ear, so you might want to tackle the slower parts of the song first.
Luckily, there is enough English speckled in the song to help you enjoy singing it. It’s best for intermediate to advanced learners, but beginners can have a good time picking the lyrics apart nonetheless.
“La La La” — BIGBANG
This is another oldie-but-goodie song, released circa 2006 when BIGBANG was taking its position as one of the top acts of the “Korean Wave.”
“La La La” is a slow hip hop song, perfect for beginners and intermediate language learners. The lines are short and simple. It’s also very conversational, so you can certainly pick up a couple slang terms.
The rap section of the song isn’t over the top and can be a quick source for enunciation practice for bold students.
“Loser” — BIGBANG
Not only does this song by BIGBANG contain more material to be mined by the language learner, but the rap sections will give your Korean skills a thorough polishing. The rapping is not so fast as to be indiscernible or inaudible, so any foreign ear listening intently will be able to learn from it.
“Loser” will both gauge and grow your listening skills as well as your comprehension ability. If you begin to understand the lyrics of this one, then you can honestly say that you’ve been acclimatized to the distinct sounds of Korean.
“태풍” (The Eye) — Infinite
Infinite combines the hyperactivity of pop with the mellowness of traditional instruments in this song about a breakup that fails to keep the protagonist truly away from their lover. The title refers to the “eye of a storm” that continually sweeps the protagonist back to their ex.
Its lyrics are passionate, poetic and casual. Some of the metaphorical stuff can take longer to unpack, so it helps to try to get an idea of what the words literally mean first.
Another pro is that there aren’t any rapping interludes, and the whole song is sung at consistently average speed. The enunciation of the words is very clear, even if the entire theme is quite emotional. You can also pick up on the multiple declaratives used in the song and analyze them.
“어디니? 뭐하니?” (Where Are You? What Are You Doing?) — B.A.P.
In this song, B.A.P. tells a tale of meandering days that feel awkward because of the absence of a certain other. The catchy country-like tune, however, makes the mood more quietly nostalgic.
Its lyrics are uncomplicated, with a few English words mixed in. What’s great about this song is that it also contains some proper grammar, which can be quite lacking in the world of music. Moreover, as the title makes obvious, it includes a core component of any language: the ever-important “where” and “what.”
The song would be good for beginner learners edging into intermediate level, since there are some parts that are faster than others.
Easy Folk and Children Korean Songs to Sing
Sometimes thought of as Korea’s unofficial national anthem, “Arirang” is a beloved folk song about a woman complaining of her unfeeling lover. Despite her love for him, he left her, much to her chagrin. The song represents the joys and sorrows of the Korean people and was used as a symbol of Korea’s struggle for independence under the Japanese annexation.
“Arirang” is so famous that the song itself is a must-know. In addition to its strong cultural component, it will teach you numerous expressions and vocabulary for talking about geography and travels, with vivid descriptions of natural landscapes, sceneries and movement.
“산토끼” (Mountain Bunny)
This is probably the best-known kids’ song in Korea, with an easy, catchy tune to help with your studies. Almost everyone in Korea knows this song by heart. The song is about a mountain rabbit hopping around the hills and hiding in the grass to find chestnuts.
“Mountain Bunny” is a great song for learning vocabulary to talk about the animals populating the Korean peninsula. It will also provide a fun introduction to onomatopoeias, as they are included in the song to mimic the sounds and actions of its furry protagonist.
“곰 세 마리” (Three Bears)
“Three Bears” is another popular children’s song that is dearly loved in Korea today. It’s very straightforward, yet incredibly endearing. Despite its simplicity, the song does a great job of proving that there’s no need for elaborate vocabulary to tell a moving story.
“Three Bears” is about a family of bears, each with their unique looks and personalities. They live together in a home. Papa Bear is big and fat, Mama Bear is slim, Baby Bear is cute and they all live happily together.
If you’re looking for a way to learn the basics without pain, “Three Bears” is the right song for you. This song will teach you all the essentials of Korean sentence structure, including word order and roots. In addition, it’s a fun way to learn about the Korean counting system and to pick up some useful Korean words to describe your family and people’s physical appearances.
“갑돌이와 갑순이” (The Story of Kap Do-li and Kap Soo-ni)
This is a romantic traditional Korean folk song that is very famous throughout the country.
Kap Soo-ni, a young lady, and her beloved, Kap Do-li lived in the same village and had feelings for one another. But they never disclosed their love to each other. Eventually, they got married to different people and suffered for not being together.
This song is a fantastic way to learn about reported speech and how it’s structured in Korean. The lyrics don’t just tell the story: Rather, the narrator tells something he’s heard in a moving and accurate way. As a result, every sentence incorporates the patterns of indirect speech.
What Makes a Korean Song Easy to Understand?
- Slow rhythm. True, many songs are catchy precisely because of their energetic groove, but if this makes them too difficult for you, try to pick a song with a more easygoing tempo. This will help you focus more on the lyrics and less on the beat. It’s a good way to cut out distracting musical elements and shift your attention to the Korean language.
- Clear pronunciation and simple language. It’s important to pick songs from singers who have clear enunciation and really pronounce every word thoroughly. Slow rap songs can be particularly helpful because the Korean words are spoken rather than sung. Understanding faster Korean rap songs may prove challenging, however, so focus on those involving slower, clearer language.
- Lots of repetition. Repetition makes it easy for the listener to remember the lyrics without much effort. Ideally, you want to be able to sing a song properly without reading the Korean words. So a song with a great chorus, catchy lyrics and repeated lines should help you get there faster.
A Step-by-Step Guide for Learning Korean with Songs
Now that you have some ideas for a Korean music playlist, our suggestion is to study with a step-by-step method. Here’s an example:
Starting point: Listen to the song with lyrics and translations right in front of you. Follow along and focus not on the beat, but on the words.
Test #1: Record your singing with your phone. Then play it back and compare your version to the original. This is to hone your pronunciation and pick out any problem spots, for which you can listen again to get it just right.
Test #2: Look away from the lyrics as you listen to the song. In the first round, pick out words you recognized and give yourself a pat on the back for them! Note and review what you missed or didn’t understand, and listen to the song again to see if you can catch them for a couple more rounds.
Test #3: Write out the lyrics and/or translations by yourself, with no reference besides the audio itself. This one will be tough, but it actively encourages memory recall and truly tests what you know. The method of retrieval is powerful in ingraining information in long-term memory, so this test will be honing just that for your Korean language skills.
Test #4: Sing the entire song to an instrumental, vocal-less version of it (aka a “karaoke” version). The only help you can have are the entirely Korean lyrics. This is a fun way to end things, but this time, you will be supplied with actual knowledge of what and how you are singing.
Aim for songs of different genres so you can get exposed to different beats and lyrics, and thus, different vocabulary.
As you’re practicing, here are a couple of great resources that you can turn to:
- Naver provides a KR-EN dictionary that lets you bookmark and create playlists with words you come across. This is a great way to learn what’s being said in some of your favorite songs and keep track of every word you come across.
- Another example is the FluentU program, which offers a library of native Korean clips as a way to study the language. Each video offers interactive features—such as subtitles, quizzes, flashcards and more—that help you break down, digest and internalize all the important information that pops up.
Armed with the songs above and these tools, start with a small goal, then advance with challenges that get progressively harder.
Who knew learning Korean through songs was this easy!
We hope you have a lot of fun with these iconic, easy Korean songs, and enjoy your Korean studies.