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How Hard is it to Learn the Korean Language?

How hard is it to learn Korean from English considering Korean has its own set of characters that you need to know, different grammar patterns and pronunciation? Is it a perfect script for a horror story or is it an idea for disaster? Let’s take a look at some facts.

Is Korean hard?

Korean is an interesting language and recently due to the popularity of K-pop and K-drama attracts more new learners. When you learn Korean it’s not only easier to watch your favourite shows without subtitles but also it shows additional cultural aspects that more often are not possible to translate into English.

Is Korean easier than Japanese?

Korean is easier than Japanese when it comes to the writing system but might be harder due to pronunciation. This is the first answer many people would give but the story doesn’t finish here.

In Korean mostly we’d use the so-called Hangeul to compose written texts and it has 24 different letters. On top of that, we have characters of Chinese origin called Hanja but those are not commonly used in daily life but will definitely boost your understanding of Korean the further your Korean adventure goes.

On the other hand, in Japanese, we have 3 writing systems, two of Japanese origin and one of Chinese origin but those are all mixed in one text. In order to be able to read comfortably in Japanese you need to have an understanding of more than 2000 characters compared to just 24 in Korean. You can read more in the post about the difficulties of the Japanese language as that will shed more light on the writing system in Japanese.

Is Korean grammar hard?

Korean grammar is simple and difficult at the same time. Grammar patterns you’ll find in Korean are definitely logical and systematic but some aspects of it might pose some difficulties at first.

Korean grammar might be hard due to a different structure compared to English. While English follows a subject-verb-object (SVO) order, Korean generally follows a subject-object-verb (SOV) order. Instead of “I eat an apple” Koreans would say “I apple eat” or even “Apple eat” as more often you omit pronouns. This difference can take some time to get used to but it’s definitely possible to grasp.

Another reason to consider if Korean might be an easy language is the usage of honorifics and politeness levels. This aspect comes as complex not only to English native speakers as in Korean it takes another level. The choice of words and verb forms can change depending on the speaker’s relationship with the listener, the formality of the situation and personal choice if you want to show additional respect or not.

Is Korean pronunciation hard?

Korean pronunciation might be difficult as some consonants have aspirated and unaspirated sounds. The worst part? If you mix it, it’s possible that you will say another word.

One advantage is that in Korean we don’t have any tones similar to Mandarin or Thai language but grasping vowels and consonants comes with its own share of difficulties. In English, we might not pay much attention to the subtle burst of air that accompanies certain consonants, but in Korean, this difference is crucial. Take the consonant “ㄱ,” for example. It can be pronounced as a soft, unaspirated sound similar to the ‘g’ in “give,” or it can come out with a more forceful burst of air, like the ‘k’ in “kite.” The same goes for “ㄷ” and “ㅌ,” or “ㅂ” and “ㅍ.”

Will you start your Korean adventure?

While some aspects of Korean might be challenging, many learners find the language rewarding and enjoyable. If you’re ready to start your adventure and you want to spend some time mastering the Korean alphabet Hangeul then Korean might not be half as bad.

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