Korean is spoken by around 75 million people, making it one of the most widely-spoken languages in Asia. Most native speakers live in North and South Korea, but there are also around 1 million Korean speakers in the U.S., many of them in Koreatown, Los Angeles, the largest Korean neighborhood outside of Asia.
Korean may look like a challenging language to learn, but it’s actually one of the easier Asian languages for English speakers to pick up. There are 24 symbols in the Korean alphabet (10 vowels and 14 consonants), far less than the number of characters you need to learn in order to become proficient in Japanese or Mandarin.
The reason Korean writing looks so complex is that consonants and vowels are layered on top of each other, instead of written in a row. Once you know the basics, the phonetics are pretty straightforward. There are no tones to worry about, and words are pronounced just how they are spelled. Cases and genders are pretty simple too.
To really get the most out of your studies, you’re going to want to be able to speak and understand Korean. For that, it’s a good idea to practice your listening comprehension with podcasts and other audio content. While there aren’t as many resources designed to teach Korean as there are for some other languages, we’ve found several great podcasts that are intended for beginners and intermediate students.
Fortunately, South Korea is a tech-savvy country, with young Internet users producing more content than ever before. Once you master the basics, you’ll have no shortage of vlogs and podcasts to choose from to keep improving your Korean fluency.