Why Learn Korean? 10 Reasons It’s the Best Decision You’ll Ever Make

There are plenty of reasons to want to learn Korean.

Maybe you want to binge on your favorite Korean media and not have to deal with the one-inch barrier of subtitles.

Maybe it’s something else entirely, like wanting to work in a Korean-speaking company.

No matter your reason (or lack thereof), this post will give you 10 compelling reasons why learning Korean is actually an excellent choice.

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1. Korean’s writing system is easy to learn

Hangul only has 24 letters, which is already less than the English 26. Also, the way the Korean letters are written is said to reflect how your mouth or tongue looks when you produce their sound.

For example, ㄴ (ni-eun), which is roughly equivalent to the English letter N, looks like the shape your tongue makes to touch the back of your teeth to produce the N sound.

2. Korean is one of the most spoken languages in the world

Korean has over 75 million speakers worldwide. That means you don’t have to be physically in the “land of the morning calm” to meet a native Korean speaker.

In fact, Korean is the 25th most commonly spoken language in the world. When you consider that there are roughly 7,000 languages all over the globe today, Korean is right up there with the most popular ones.

3. Korean can help you learn other East Asian languages

Although the Korean writing system is distinct, the language itself has features similar to those of its neighboring countries, China and Japan.  

For example, like Mandarin and Nihongo, Korean also has a system of honorifics that clues you in to the age, sex or status of the person addressed. There’s formal language reserved for elders and bosses, and there are informal forms for family and friends. The former denotes deference and reverence, while the latter suggests welcome and warmth.

4. “Konglish” makes Korean easier for English speakers

Because Korea has become a melting pot of various cultures around the world, it’s only natural that they’ve appropriated some English into Korean.

“Konglish” is a beautiful hybrid between Korean and English. For example, when Koreans say 디카 (dika), it’s actually short for the English words “digital camera.” They also use 셀카 (selka) for “self camera.” (That’s a “selfie,” in case you’re wondering.)

5. Learning Korean gives you an edge in the job market

South Korea is an important global player. For example, it’s an important partner to the US and plays host to technological giants like Samsung, which has been going head-to-head with Apple for years now.

The country has also gone from being one of the poorest after World War II to an economic powerhouse. To date, South Korea is the fourth largest economy in Asia, the 13th largest in the world and can potentially move further up to ninth place by 2027. Don’t take my word for it: Just check out the 2023 World Economic League Table.

Assuming these trends keep up (and they very likely will), learning Korean could be crucial for your business and career prospects.

6. Koreans are among the friendliest in the world

Greet anyone in Korea 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo), and you may be amazed at how a single line can result in an outpouring of conversation.

You can also chat with Koreans about their nation’s obsession with skincare and karaoke, how to make kimchi and other staple Korean foods and a ton of other intriguing subjects.

If you’re able to carry on convos like these with native speakers, you’re going to win yourself some great friends.

7. There’s plenty to love about Korean travel and culture

South Korea is a beautiful spot on Earth, and it stays that way all through the four seasons. Trust me, you’ll definitely want to visit it in this lifetime.

For starters, it’s home to palaces, quaint villages, shrines and temples that take you to eras past. For those who prefer more modern sights, the N Seoul Tower bears witness to the sea of innovation and technological marvel that is the city of Seoul.

Also, South Korean culture is in a league of its own. Yes, it’s somewhat influenced by its neighbors (most prominently China), but you’ll still see things like the traditional hanbok and food that are uniquely Korean.

Learning to speak the language will add so much to your travel and cultural experience. It will infuse more meaning and insight into what you see. And who knows: Like so many, you might just fall in love with the country and want to stay there for good.

8. The ubiquity of K-pop practically forces you to learn Korean

Who can forget the catchy and satirical “Gangnam Style,” which broke YouTube records by becoming the first online video to hit a billion views? It’s but a symptom of this Korean craze.

Sure, you can just bob your head along with K-pop’s famously earworm-y tunes and eat up all of the visual candy from their music videos. But why not take it a step further and actually try to understand what the singers are belting out?

You may just realize that the lyrics are far deeper than their bubblegum melodies may suggest. Or they could just be someone singing about their longing for a special someone over and over—but how would you know unless you study the language?

9. You’ll better appreciate Korean movies and TV

Remember “Parasite,” the first non-English film to win an Oscar? Or “A Tale of Two Sisters,” which regularly appears on my horror-loving friends’ lists of “most terrifying movies of all time?”

There’s a good chance you know someone (or are someone) who’s into K-dramas or movies. After all, they often have plotlines and characters that can rival anything that comes out of Hollywood.  

And wouldn’t it be great to watch them without constantly flicking your eyes between the subtitles and the action on screen? That’s yet another problem learning Korean can solve!

One way to ease yourself into these shows and films is with an authentic language learning program like FluentU. FluentU features videos with interactive and clickable subtitles, which give you information on each word’s English translation, pronunciation, part of speech and more. 

10. Knowing Korean gives you bragging rights

Did you know that Korean is rated as a Category 4 language by the U.S. government’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI)? In other words, it takes the average English speaker about 2,200 class hours to pick it up due to its relative level of difficulty.

That means if you’re fluent in it, you can impress people with the fact that you’ve picked up a language that couldn’t be any more different from the one you grew up with. And, as I’ve touched on earlier, you’ll gain an edge over other job applicants due to your English-Korean bilingualism.

 

Economically, politically, socially, culturally and entertainment-wise, Korean comes at you from all different angles. And each day, it’s coming at ever-increasing speeds.

Korean is an obvious pick for a language to learn, and the time to learn is today.

So take that plunge!

 

 

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