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Korean Vowels – Alphabet Letters for Hangeul

The Korean language has its own alphabet letters that are made up of Korean vowels and consonants.

If you have been studying with us for a while, you may have already noticed our article on learning the Korean alphabet that gives you a guide to learn Hangul.

Based on that article, in today’s lesson, we will specifically focus on Korean vowels. After this lesson, you will have a deeper understanding of what Korean or Hangul vowels are, how to pronounce them and how Korean syllables are constructed with them. Let’s get started!

Korean Vowels

What is “vowels” in Korean?

In the Korean language, vowels are referred to as 모음 (moeum).

How many vowels are in the Korean alphabet?

There are 21 vowels in the Korean language. Of these 10 are basic vowels, and the remaining 11 are double vowels built upon these basic vowels.

What are the vowels in Korean?

Korean vowels can be categorized into basic and double vowels. We’ve listed down the complete list of vowels below, along with their vowel sounds or their closest sound approximation to English letters.

Korean Basic Vowels

There are ten basic vowels in the Korean alphabet. Below is a list of the ten vowels in Hangul with their character pronunciation. However, it’s important to note that the character pronunciation below is just a close approximation of the Korean alphabet letters. Their sound may vary when they are combined with other Korean letters.

VowelsRomanized Spelling
a
eo
o
u
eu
i
ya
yeo
yo
yu

Korean Double Vowels

There are 11 double vowels in the Korean alphabet. These Korean letters are formed by combining the basic vowels.

VowelsRomanized Spelling
ae
e
yae
ye
wa
wae
wo or weo
we
wi
wui
eui

Korean Vowel Names

Similar to all other letters of any language, such as English, Korean letters also have their assigned names. However, the naming systems for Korean consonants and vowels are different. Consonants in the Korean alphabet have their specific names assigned to each of them, while vowels simply follow the sound they produce for their names.

Let’s take a look at the different vowel names in the list below.

VowelsKorean Vowel NamesRomanized Spelling
a
eo
o
u
ㅡ  eu
i
ya
yeo
yo
yu
ae
e
yae
ye
wa
ㅙ wae
wo or weo
we
wi
wui
eui

Talking

How to pronounce Korean vowels?

As with Korean consonants, the pronunciation of Korean vowels may not be directly what you expect from the romanization of the Korean word. Therefore we encourage you to learn the pronunciation directly from the 한글 (hangeul) instead.

If you’d like to focus on Korean pronunciation first before moving forward with Korean vowels specifically, we have an article focused solely on it. Otherwise, let’s keep getting friendly with Korean vowels!

The basic rule of thumb with pronouncing each Korean vowel is that each character tries to resemble the sound they make as accurately as possible.

ㅓ and ㅕvs ㅗ and ㅛ

In both ㅓ and ㅕ, the “e” is skipped in pronunciation, making their pronunciations “o” and “yo” respectively. As you may notice, there is already a different character for both “o” and “yo,” which are ㅗ and ㅛ respectively. So how do you differentiate between the sounds they make?

In both ㅗ and ㅛ your mouth forms a tight o-shape, which makes the sound more emphasized than it does in ㅓ or ㅕ.

ㅐ and ㅒ vs ㅔ and ㅖ

Similarly, in ㅐ and ㅒ, the “a” is skipped in pronunciation. In fact, the most prominent difference between pronouncing ㅐ and ㅒ versus ㅔ and ㅖ is that the e-sound is lengthier in the latter two.

Compound vowels

Additionally, take note of each vowel combining two vowels into one. Examples are ㅘ and ㅞ. While ㅗ alone has the “o” sound and ㅜ alone sounds more like “u,” when combined into a vowel with another basic vowel, both develop a sound closer to “w.” This is simply for making the vowel sound more natural.

ㅡ and ㅢ

Lastly, explaining the sound of ㅡ and ㅢ in romanized letters is the hardest as the sound is largely different from its romanization. Not necessarily more complicated, but one for which a character in the Roman alphabet does not exist. As you may notice from how the letter is drawn, your mouth is expected to form a wide stance with your lips and teeth nearly pursed together when creating the sound.

Writing on a paper

How to construct syllables with Korean vowels?

Most of the Korean syllable construction with vowels is rather straightforward. You simply add the vowel after the consonant, including the soundless one, ㅇ. Remember that ㅇ is used as the first letter in a syllable in cases where the syllable sound begins with a vowel.

If the Korean syllable has an ending consonant, then another consonant will be added after the vowel. Otherwise, you move to build the next syllable.

Syllables with double vowels

In the case of double vowels starting with ㅗ or ㅜ or ㅡ, the consonant will be added above this portion of the vowel, while the latter part of the vowel combination is “left over” as its own part of the syllable. For example, the verb 와 (wa) means “come” in the present casual tense.

It is also entirely possible for a Korean syllable to have one vowel (that is not a double vowel) with three consonants! But you will want to check the lesson for Korean consonants to learn more about this.

And that’s it for Korean vowels at this time! Perhaps you would like to move on to other Korean grammar we have in store for you? Although first, after learning both consonants and vowels, we highly recommend you learn to memorize each one, how they sound like and how you construct Korean syllable blocks and Korean words with them. You may enjoy learning this through our Korean slang article!

The post Korean Vowels – Alphabet Letters for Hangeul appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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60 Funny Korean Signs, Images, And Konglish Fails

Want to learn how and why English is often mistranslated into Konglish? Need a good laugh? Then these 60 funny Korean signs will give you a quick giggle and offer some interesting insights into the weird and wonderful world of Korean translations.

One of the joys of living in Korea is spotting the strange, unusual, and often confusing images and words that are meant to entice people in, but might actually put you off.

From sexy eels, to befuddling ‘Konglish’ phrases, these funny Korean pictures, signs, and images will show you a different side to Korea.

Take a look at the best of the Konglish and bad Korean translations that I’ve collected since 2015 and let me know which one you liked the most.

Funny Korean Signs showing narcotic hotdogs

What Is Konglish And Why Are There Funny Korean Signs?

Before looking at these 60 funny Korean signs, I want to very quickly explain what Konglish is.

Konglish is a portmanteau of Korean and English. It describes English words with funny spelling mistakes, translations, or sometimes completely new words in English.

The picture above is a good example of Konglish. Narcotics are something we’d associate with drug use and wouldn’t be something you’d add to your hotdogs (I’d hope!).

In Korea, the expression is meant to suggest that it’s addictive, something you can’t resist. Therefore, narcotic hotdogs are irresistible, addictive hotdogs.

Korean image about skinship
Image credit: Hanmadi

Skinship is another example. It’s a combination of skin (touching) and friendship that describes friendly, close physical contact between two people.

Konglish is also used to describe nonsense sentences that have been really badly translated. You’ll definitely find a lot of these funny Korean signs with this form of Konglish.

In fact, some of these pictures you probably won’t understand at all.

Caution tape

Warning: Some of these pictures might not be safe for work / children.

There are lots of different types of funny Korean signs, so I’ll break these down into different categories, such as warning signs, Korean shop signs, Korean translation mistakes, Konglish fashion, and suchlike.

Man in a protective suit

Korean Safety Signs You Might Want To Avoid

Korea is a very safe country, but there are times when emergencies happen and you need to know what to do. Unfortunately, these funny Korean signs show that you can’t always trust the advice you see.

Of course, some of the advice is very helpful, especially the one about how to use a toilet. I was struggling a lot before I saw that…

Funny Korean Toilet Sign with instructions

1: How To Use A Toilet In Korea

You can find these signs in many parts of East Asia where squat toilets were traditionally used instead of seated toilets. I wonder how many people were actually using them as you see in the picture above?

Funny sign about not wearing clothes during COVID
Image credit: Instagram

2: Clothes Cause COVID?

I’m not sure how being naked will stop the spread of COVID-19, but whatever you say, Korean sign. Got to follow the rules for public safety!

Warning image about earthquake rules in Korea

3: Panic At The Disco

This is a sign demonstrating safety measures during an earthquake. Something you definitely don’t want to do would be to calm down. It’s better to rush around and panic, right?

Warning sign about how to use the toilet

4: The Toilet Is Painful!

Toilets are a tricky issue in Korea, something that might confuse some and cause problems for all. And sometimes the toilet will hurt you if you don’t put the tissues and wet towels in the bin. You’ve been warned!

Funny sign in a Korean toilet
Image credit: Instagram

5: Hurry Up And Flush

There’s no time to waste in balli-balli (hurry, hurry) Korean society. You’ve got to rush that toilet paper as it is. Don’t waste your toilet time folding it up nicely.

Konglish fail sign about pregnant women
Image credit: Instagram

6: Pregnancy Is Not Allowed!

No wonder the birth rate in Korea is so low with signs like this claiming that women aren’t allowed to be pregnant! Actually, this was a warning sign to forbid pregnant women from travelling on a certain train, but the English translation from Korean doesn’t quite work.

Funny Korean signs in a toilet
Image credit: Instagram

7: Only Leave Your Troubles In The Toilet

I’ll talk about the No! Smoking! sign soon, but more worrying than the extra punctuation is why (and how) you’d leave your troubles in the toilet. You’re meant to drown your sorrows… but I’m not sure a toilet is the right place for that!

I don't wanna see your elephant toilet sign

8: Trouser Elephant?

Saw this in a men’s toilet at a hotel on Jeju Island. I’m not sure what they were asking or reminding me to do with this sign. Make sure I don’t leave the toilet naked? Don’t worry, there were no elephants (or snakes) on display that day.

Do not use outsiders sign in Korea

9: Do Not Use Outsiders

Expats in Korea (like myself) don’t like to be used, and I’m glad to see someone has made a nice sign to tell others not to. If you want to use outsiders, you’ll have to go somewhere else.

Konglish fail no smorking sign

10: No Smorking!

I’m sure you can guess what this Konglish sign is trying to tell you not to do, but the added ‘r’ makes it sound like there might be something else that you can ‘smork’. Maybe it’s the name of a Scandinavian rock group?

Konglish fail no! smoking area sign

11: No! Do That!?

A common confusing Korean translation mistake that you’ll see a lot comes from using English punctuation. This Korean sign should be very clear, but the ! after no makes it sound like this is a smoking area…

Bad punctuation on a no drinking sign in Korea

12: No! Let’s Have A Drink!

The wild punctuation is back again in this anti-drinking Korean sign. Again, stop what you’re doing and start drinking! That’s an order.

Confusing Korean sign

13: Watch Out For The Headman!

One thing I love about Konglish signs is that they often have some very strange word choices. This is usually because they’ve used Google to translate their signs or they learnt English from classic English novels. Either way, be sure not to trifle on the bridge with the children or the headman will be after you!

14: Cable Car Safety Advice – Don’t Scream!

These two safety signs are from the N Seoul Tower Cable Cara nd are packed with unusual Korean translations and Konglish. I love the use of terms such as ‘befuddlers’, you don’t hear that word enough. Also, please refrain from screaming, singing, or ‘clamping’ in the cable car. How many times did this happen that they had to make a sign?

Konglish sign about hiking dangers

15: Watch Out For Cliff!

I don’t know if this Konglish sign is meant to be a warning or a challenge. Should you approach the cliff, slide over the edge, and then let go? Whatever you do, make sure you walk slowly (or fall slowly?).

Funny Konglish Fashion Fail

Funny Konglish Fashion Fails

One of the most common places to find random English words is in a clothes shop. Whether you’re in a department store, or browsing one of the many fun traditional markets in Korea, you’ll probably find one or two examples of Konglish.

There are a lot of other hilarious slogans and messages on Korean clothing that I wish I’d been able to take pictures of.

Sadly, it would have seemed very strange to walk up to random Koreans to ask for a picture of their Konglish clothing…

Still, I managed to get a few, and here they are.

Warning: Some of these are not safe for work / children. Korean fashion has no limits and there can be some rude words used.

Thoughful Konglish Jumper

16: Are You Feeling Thoughful?

Even though I use though a lot, can I really be said to be thoughful? Full of though? There are countless Konglish slogans like this on jumpers and t-shirts in Korea – some random word pairings, others made up words that were probably meant to be others.

Rude Konglish Fail clothes in Korea
Image Credit: Instagram

17: Don’t Hide Your Feelings!

I wonder what goes on in the mind of Korean fashion designers. Was this intentional, or did they simply take some random words from English without considering their meaning (which often happens). Not the rudest Korean fashion fail I’ve seen, but one you might not want to wear to a family dinner.

Acne Stories funny Korean sweater

18: The Worst Kind Of Story

Having a bad spot day and don’t want to talk about it? Then wear this lovely jumper and it’ll explain it all. The word ‘story’ is used so much in Korean shop signs as a way to create some kind of persona to whatever it is they’re selling. I assume. In my apartment there’s a ‘tax and coffee story’… which doesn’t sound like a fun story!

Confusing Konglish clothing
Image Credit: Instagram

19: Only For Maniacs!

Another word that’s misinterpreted a lot in Konglish is ‘maniac’ (as well as ‘holic’). I think Koreans translate it as someone who is enthusiastic about something, but in English we’d see it as someone who’s a bit too mad for something! No idea what the rest of this Konglish fashion fail means though…

20: Hats Off For These Korean Fashion Fails

It’s so easy to sell baseball caps in Korea. Make a hat, write something weird in English on it and people will snap it up. It doesn’t matter that Korean kids are going around with swearwords on top of their head at all…

Hunt Kids sign in Korea

21: Not A Child-Friendly Activity

This is the name of a clothing brand in Korea, not a suggestion for what to do with naughty children. I hope.

Porky clothing sign

22: Only For Porkies?

I’ve no idea who chose the name for this large chain of children’s clothing and whether they thought about the meaning behind the word porky. Porky, as you’d imagine, usually suggests someone is a bit of a pig, or greedy. Is this their target market?

Inappropriate shop sign in Korea

23: What a Knobskin!

I spotted this sign years ago in Hongdae in Seoul and I think it was a streetwear shop. Which doesn’t explain the name at all! Knobskin translates to ‘an annoying or frustrating person, somebody who is useless.’ on Urban Dictionary. However, the literal meaning is the skin of… something an eel might help you grow. Want to buy clothes there?

Man Chesta clothes store

24: Man Chesta United?

This shop owner seems to be embracing foreign culture and decided to name their shop after the famous English city. Perhaps it was in tribute to Park Ji-Sung‘s time at Manchester United? Unfortunately, it looks like the owner didn’t actually own an official shirt with the correct spelling of Manchester on it.

Young Emotional Story YES

25: A Story Of Youth

Another example of a Korean fashion store using ‘story’. This time, it’s for emos and goths? Yes! It’s a young emotional story that makes you feel the Konglish. Also, no idea why there’s a random apostrophe at the end.

Confusing Konglish sign from South Korea

26: Millenium Spirit From Hazzy’s

I don’t know if any other Brit’s have seen Hazzy’s clothes around before, but their signs don’t have the dignity and formality they think they do. This funny Konglish sign is what you’ll see when you enter their store.

Old People Stick funny Korean signs

27: Do You Need An Old People Stick?

Found this hiking in Seoraksan National Park. The mountains can be tough so be sure to take an old people stick with you! A walking stick, but only for old people, I assume?

Strange Korean Sign Cream Story

28: Cream For The Ladies Only

Seen in Gunsan, this (I assume) is a ladies fashion store that doesn’t sell men’s clothing. It’s a story. A story of cream that’s for the ladies only. Unfortunately, my dirty mind finds this amusing for the wrong reasons.

Inappropriate Korean Sign

Konglish Food Signs & Menus

The next selection of Konglish signs can be found on food packets, restaurant signs, and on descriptions which may put you off eating what it’s describing.

Literal translations of Korean dishes are often funny, and you’ll see them on menus all the time. Sometimes the mistake when choosing between certain letters (such as r/l) can leave you very confused, too.

These funny Korean pictures are from across Korea and will show you there’s some very strange translating going on.

Frozen Bride ice cream from South Korea

29: Cold-Hearted Wife?

The first part of this Korean sign seems quite harmless for an ice cream shop. However, when you add in a bride, things get weird. I saw this in Gyeongju recently and no one seemed to think it strange. In fact, there’s a picture zone to have your photo taken next to their sign and the frozen wife-to-be.

Daepo Hatdog Image

30: Embracing Konglish Fails

One common error when translating English to Korean is using the wrong vowels. The Korean word for hotdog sounds more like hatdog. And it looks like this shop in Cheongju has embraced this to make a great Konglish sign by putting hats on the hotdog sausages. I really appreciate this type of Konglish humour. If only they were dogs though…

Hot cream crap salad funny Korean menu
Image Credit: Instagram

31: What A Load Of Crap!

A classic example of Korean translation fails here where a single wrong letter completely changes the meaning of the word. The letters P and B are often confused in Korean as they’re very similar. Unfortunately, a crap salad sounds a lot less appetising than a crab salad!

Enemy cabbage funny sign
Image Credit: Instagram

32: Aggressive Cabbage

It looks like this supermarket used a translation app for this red cabbage and ended up with another funny Korean translation fail. I tried entering it into Google translate and it came up with ‘red sheep cabbage’. Be careful relying on translation apps…

Awesome Waffle awful sign

33: Unappealing Combination

I can see what they’re trying to do here. It’s a waffle that’s awesome. Great! But mixing those words together is just… awful!

Bad Korean translation on pizza menu

34: Deep Pain Pizza?

I’ve lived in Korea long enough to accept squid ink in doughy goods, but pain is something I’m not down with. Is this a Konglish translation from pain, the French word for bread?

Funny sign seen in Seoul
Image Credit: Instagram

35: No Time To Waste!

Can you imagine casual swearing on shop signs in English speaking countries? Maybe it’s something that should be embraced. It certainly attracts attention.

Soft Potato Shop in Korea

36: What’s A Soft Potato?

Located in Daejeon, this place seems to be a bar but is selling ‘soft potato’, too. Is this a way to introduce mashed potato into the Korean bar scene? Are they a new kind of potato? Who knows?

Green peas wasabi from Korea

37: Are You A Spicy Taste Maniac?

Another example of maniac being used instead of an enthusiast. Although, these wasabi flavoured green peas were very spicy, so you would probably have to be a maniac to eat them!

Fine Thank You Sandwich from Starbucks Korea

38: How Are You, Sandwich?

This was actually a special sandwich offered in Starbucks, who appreciate the Korean love of English and Konglish. There seems to be no reason why this sandwich would be named like this except for the image of ‘foreignness’ that it brings. Weird.

It's My Sack funny Korean sign

39: Don’t Touch My Sack!

I’ve never seen anyone so possessive about their sack. Perhaps the snack food is there to tempt you away from their sack? Or perhaps they meant to write ‘saek’ (색) but didn’t translate it properly? Whatever happened, it’s probably best not to ask to borrow their sack.

I lobe you beer sign

40: I Really Lobe You!

Just one simple letter really changes the meaning of a sentence. This is a common mistake in Korean signs due to the fact that there is no ‘v’ in the Korean alphabet. Unfortunately, this means that you might end up putting beer in your ear lobes… which is a very wasteful way to enjoy beer! I found this funny Korean sign at a bar in Daejeon.

Suggestive Korean eel shop sign

41: Eely Good For Something

This sign made me do a double take when I first saw it. I thought the eel was lifting weights with his hands… until I looked more closely. If you’re not aware, eating eel is meant to be good for boosting your ‘sexual energy‘ (like oysters). You can probably work out just how effective it is from the picture.

Inappropriate Korean restaurant description
Image Credit: Instagram

42: Doing It On The Table

I think this shop is trying to imply that they are making something lovely just for you, but instead we end up with a great Konglish fail where a very different meaning is presented. Or maybe it’s a very naughty cafe?

Inspirational Korean sign

43: Good Job!

It’s nice to see an encouraging Korean sign in English for once. It was indeed a rough day and I did a good job. Thanks!

Ho Chicken

44: What Kind Of Chicken Is This?

I was surprised by this place when I first visited Korea in 2012. Ho Chicken (and Ho bar) are a popular chain of chicken shops that, for some dirty-minded westerners, seems to be rather suggestive. Maybe they want it to seem merry, like Christmas?

Funny advertising in Korea

45: I Will Find You…

This Korean sign, from a food truck near Cheonggyecheon Stream, gets on the list because it made me giggle for a different reason. Liam Neeson fans will probably recognise the mis-TAKEN quote here. It makes me wonder, though. Who will be doing the finding and eating? That bull looks pretty angry!

Konglish description in a bakery

46: Extra Ink, Hold The Cream Cheese

This is from California (my local bakery, not the state) and is one of many examples of very ‘creative’ English that they use to describe their baked goods. I’m really happy they’re trying to make it easier for foreigners to buy delicious foods, but this Konglish sign left me confused.

The ink in this bread is squid ink, which you can find in bread, pizza dough, and other places where you need to make something black. Squid ink is okay, but with cream cheese bread? Are they serious? I wonder what the other version without cream cheese bread is like?

I'm Single funny Korean badge

Funny Korean Translations & Other Signs

Finally, this last collection of Konglish signs, pictures, and other images shows how confusing and humorous life in Korea can be as an English speaker.

From random Korean street signs, to Konglish textbooks, shop names, and badly designed adverts, there are so many great examples of Konglish fails to enjoy.

Summer Bitch Festival funny Korean mistranslation
Image Credit: Instagram

47: Only A Bitch For Summer

Even large corporations like Lotte can make massive Konglish fails when trying to spell English words. This advert for a summer ‘beach’ festival had a lot of foreigners laughing and hopefully taught Lotte about the problems of Korean translation mistakes!

Wide Love Push vending machine

48: What Are You Suggesting?

This innocent looking arcade machine with children’s toys has an interesting collection of English words that used together become quite suggestive…

Konglish fail on a math practice book

49: Fun Time With Maths?

These next two Konglish fails come from Daiso, a discount store that offers so many hilarious Korean translation fails. This is a very unusual passage to include when trying to encourage your children to learn maths. And who thinks studying maths is a fun time? Haha.

Konglish fail on an English practice book

50: The Struggles Of An English Teacher

I spent 5 years teaching English in Korea with EPIK and I’ve seen some inspiring and wonderful uses of the English language. Learning a language is an uphill struggle and seeing ‘English’ exercise books like this just makes me want to face palm. Hellow?

Konglish fail on a note pad

51: Opne Your Hearts & Make Korea Great Again

I actually bought the ‘Make Korea Great Again’ notepad for a laugh, but it’s the other common Korean misspelling that confuses me. ‘Open’ is a word you’ll find on every shop or cafe in Korea, and yet it’s sometimes written as ‘opne’ by mistake.

The designers managed to get so many other words right, but how come Korea struggles with open? Come on! Make Korea great again by fighting against these Konglish mistakes.

Bad English translation in Korea

52: Just Give Up…

This massage shop in Myeongdong is probably not too worried about using English, but they could have asked one of the many foreigners in the area to check if this sign was right.

Burning Hair shop sign

53: What’s That Smell?

What’s the worst image you want to give people when going to a hair stylist? People with hair on fire? Probably. I wouldn’t know as I shave my head. But choosing a name like this is a massive fail for this chain of hair stylists. They’re not on fire with this Konglish.

Korean Football Club banner

54: Football Club Korea It!

Firstly, I’m happy that Koreans are calling football by its proper name (not soccer, not sorry), but why choose this acronym to describe your team? I wonder how many fans have that tattooed on their arm? Maybe they should refer to themselves as the Korean Football Club.

Talking of dodgy TLA (three-letter acronym) choices, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) changed its name a few years ago. No idea why.

English Termination Centre sign in Korea

55: Your Days Are Numbered, English!

I find it deliciously ironic that this sign for an after school academy teaching English should provide an example of a Konglish fail. This is close to where I live in Daejeon and I’m always worried that someone is looking down as I pass, waiting to terminate me!

Unusual Korean sign Konglish phrases

56: The Happy Zelkova

Zelkova trees are lovely and you can see them when you’re out hiking in Korea, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard them hum. I’ve certainly never seen one smiling at me, either. But that doesn’t matter. This is another example of random English words and expressions that get added to Korean signs for no apparent reason.

Ubuntu Books shop banner

57: We Are Still Making Mistakes!

Ubuntu is a nice philosophy, one that’s usually translated as “I am, because you are”, and I can’t fault them too much for the capital letter, but I wish they’d checked with an English copywriter before writing it.

Confusing Push and Pull door signs

58: Push Or Pull?

These door signs at a shop at Deogyusan National Park in Muju are very confusing. I don’t know if I’m coming or going!

Konglish fails on hotel banner

59: Let’s Get Bussy!

I don’t know if Koreans know what ‘BJ’ can also mean, but it’s probably not something that should be associated with business. Or Bussiness…

Konglish translation fail

60: Faulty Goods?

You should probably nun-chuck this in the bin (sorry) as it’s damaged. Or so the Konglish sign on the package tells you. This has so much Konglish I was tempted to buy it and read it every day. I would use it carefully and not aggressively towards people. Unfortunately, I don’t have a shady and management to store it in. Too bad.

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How To Avoid Making Language Mistakes

If you’re worried about making your own language mistakes when coming to Korea, then why not brush up on your Korean before you arrive by learning some useful Korean phrases before you travel.

These two articles will help you learn some essential phrases for travelling around Korea and when ordering food:

Essential Korean Phrases
Korean Food Phrases

And if you’re worried about making Korean cultural faux pas, then be sure to learn these Korean etiquette secrets:

Korean Etiquette Guide

Of course, the best way to avoid language mistakes is with a guided Korean course, such as the one I’m learning Korean with, 90 Day Korean:

90 Day Korean Course
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How To Avoid Konglish Mistakes

If you’re a Korean designer, or in some way involved in using English, and you want to avoid these common Konglish mistakes, why not get help from a professional?

Dean, a native English speaker who has been living in Korea for more than 20 years, offers extremely reasonably priced copywriting services that will help you avoid English mistakes.

Visit the link below to get in touch with him and bring a world of better English to Korea.

DC Copy Pro
Thank you sign

Share Your Thoughts

If you enjoyed reading this article, or if you have any thoughts about it that you want to share, please feel free to leave a message in the comments below. I’d love to hear your feedback about this article and the subject.

If you want to share some more funny Korean signs, then why not post them in the Korea Travel Advice group on Facebook.

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Touring Korea’s #1 Women’s University: Ewha Womans University (이화여자대학교)

If you're curious about Korean universities, then how about taking a tour of one of the largest, and Korea's #1 Women's university, Ewha Womans University (이화여자대학교) or "이대."

I met up with "Jenn from KOREA" on YouTube, and she showed me around the place where she used to go to school. We walked around campus and checked out the buildings, stopped for a snack, and Jenn shared some inside stories about the university.

The post Touring Korea’s #1 Women’s University: Ewha Womans University (이화여자대학교) appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

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Bokcheonjeongsa Temple – 복천정사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

The Amazing View from the Abandoned Bokcheonjeongsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Temple History

It’s not often that you find an abandoned Korean Buddhist temple. When you do, it’s a haunting reminder of the passage of time and that time waits for no one and nothing. In my time in Korea, and during my travels to some five hundred temples, I think I’ve only ever encountered three abandoned Korean Buddhist temples. Bokcheonjeongsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do is located high up on Mt. Togoksan (855 m) about two hundred metres below the peak. Bokcheonjeongsa Temple formerly belonged to the Cheontae-jong Order. And the temple appears to have been abandoned some time around 2014, probably with the passing of the head monk at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple. Even with the temple being abandoned, Bokcheonjeongsa Temple has a beautiful and commanding view of the valley below.

Temple Layout

Nature has started to reclaim the land where Bokcheonjeongsa Temple is located, and the very first sign of this reclamation is the overgrown trail and stairs that lead up towards the temple grounds. From where the road recedes and the trailhead begins, you need to hike an additional eight hundred metres to get to the temple grounds. The trail is covered in several spots with fallen leaves and can be quite treacherous and slippery in the thicker spots where the leaves have fallen, so caution is definitely advised.

As recently as seven years ago, Bokcheonjeongsa Temple was a thriving and active temple but, following the passing of the head monk, it became a shell of its former self, with overgrown paths and decaying buildings. Upon arriving at the base of the temple grounds, one gets the sense that they have entered a ghost town with only an eerie collection of abandoned temple shrine halls to greet them. The buildings are starting to fall into disrepair with even some of the windows having been smashed out. You’ll notice this as you stand on the crumbling cement stairs at the entry, as you look towards the discoloured white exterior of the former kitchen to your right and the fading yellow façade of the monks’ quarters to your left.

This is only a taste of things to come at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple. Straight ahead of you stands the two-story main hall. The first floor of the main hall looks to have once been a Geukrak-jeon Hall. With that being said, all of the paintings and statues that were once dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) have been removed. In their place is the detritus of a once active temple. The second floor, on the other hand, appears to have once been the temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall. Unlike the first floor Geukrak-jeon Hall, the Myeongbu-jeon Hall has a solitary altar mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) still hanging; albeit, off-centre, on the main altar. Besides the garbage that has collected in the subsequent years of its abandonment, this is all that remains inside the second floor of the main hall. It’s also from the second story of the modern main hall that you get an amazing view of the valley below.

To the rear of the main hall is the former Yongwang-dang Hall. And next to it is a slow flowing waterfall that collects at the base in a beautiful clear pool of water. To the left of the main hall, and up an incline, are what look to be a collection of temple structures that once included the monks’ dorms.

Throughout the temple grounds, as you travel, you can’t help but be overcome with a certain unease. And this creeping sensation is only enhanced if the weather is overcast. This feeling of unease is in opposition to almost all other Buddhist temples in Korea that exude a feeling of relative calm. This feeling at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple can create a certain sense of emotional conflict of the transitory nature of life and being.

How To Get There

You’ll need to take a taxi from the Mulgeum train station in southern Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. The taxi ride will take about thirty-five minutes, and it’ll cost you 17,000 won (one way). Depending on where the taxi drops you off, it’ll take an additional thirty minutes to hike up the eight hundred metres of hiking trail to get to Bokcheonjeongsa Temple.

Overall Rating: 6/10

The views from Bokcheonjeongsa Temple are second-to-none from the heights of Mt. Togoksan and the second-story of the Myeongbu-jeon Hall. The temple grounds at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple are much larger than I thought, and it must have once been a very beautiful place. But now that it’s been abandoned, and especially if you visit Bokcheonjeongsa Temple during the winter months, it can make for quite the haunting experience. If abandoned temples are your thing, or if you’ve never visited an abandoned Buddhist temple before, Bokcheonjeongsa Temple is the place for you.

Part of the climb up towards Bokcheonjeongsa Temple.
The view as the temple grounds first start to appear.
The administrative office and kitchen at the former temple.
A dry stream that once flowed past an outdoor shrine.
The overgrown pathway that leads up to the two-story main hall.
The modern two-story main hall.
The first floor was probably a Geukrak-jeon Hall. Now it’s just filled with detritus.
The view from the second story of the main hall.
A mural of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) inside the second story of what was probably the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.
The amazing view from the second story of the main hall.
The abandoned Yongwang-dang Hall at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple.
And a pool of water where the waterfall collects at the abandoned temple.
The overgrown stairs that lead up to the former monks’ quarters.
The stairs leading away from the former temple grounds.

Munsusa Temple – 문수사 (Gurye, Jeollanam-do)

The Three-Story Wooden Pagoda at Munsusa Temple in Gurye, Jeollanam-do.

Temple History

Munsusa Temple, which is named after Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom), was first constructed in 547 A.D. by the Buddhist monk Yeongi. The temple is located in Gurye, Jeollanam-do in the southwestern portion of the famed Jirisan National Park. Throughout the years, several prominent Korean Buddhist monks such as Wonhyo-daesa (617 – 686 A.D.), Uisang-daesa (625 – 702 A.D.), Seosan-daesa (1520 – 1604), and Samyeong-daesa (1544 – 1610) have all called Munsusa Temple home at one time or another. Much of what you currently see at Munsusa Temple was built in 1984, nearly four hundred years after it was partially destroyed by the Japanese during the destructive Imjin War (1592 – 1598). The temple was further damaged during the Korean War (1950-53).

Temple Legend

Like so many other Buddhist temples in Korea, Munsusa Temple has a rather interesting creation story attached to it. One day, a young monk named Cheongheodang was meditating, when an old man approached Cheongheodang and asked him if he could meditate with the old man. At first, Cheongheodang hesitated, and ultimately said no, because he didn’t have enough food for the two of them. Eventually, however, he relented, after the old monk implored Cheongheodang to stay and eat. The two then meditated night and day, until one day the old monk three down his staff against the face of the neighbouring mountain. The staff then turned into a yellow dragon, and the old monk rode the yellow dragon off into the fog. With this story in mind, Munsusa Temple became known as a temple where an individual can attain enlightenment through meditation.

Temple Layout

You first approach Munsusa Temple up a long and winding road that runs through a long valley. Finally arriving at the temple parking lot, you’ll gain an amazing view of the rolling peaks from the neighbouring Jirisan National Park. Passing under the arched entryway and past the monks’ living quarters both to your left and right, you’ll finally enter into the main temple courtyard at Munsusa Temple.

Almost instantly, you’ll notice the amazingly beautiful three-story wooden pagoda straight ahead of you. Inside this beautiful structure on the first floor, you’ll find solitary statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) on the main altar. To the right of the main altar is a painting dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And to the left of the main altar hangs the Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural). Out in front of the elaborately painted exterior of the three-story wooden pagoda is a solemn-looking statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

To the left of the three-story wooden structure, you’ll find a temple shrine hall that’s divided into three sections. This unpainted shrine hall only has the middle section open to the public. In the middle section, you’ll find a Reclining Buddha statue on the main altar. Above this image are two additional statues: one is dedicated to a contemplative Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha), while the other is dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

Rather surprisingly, and to the left of the three-story wooden pagoda, you’ll find a penned in area that’s home to four Asiatic black bears. All four are housed inside a red cage. Originally, the bears had been given to the temple in 2001, and originally the plan was to re-release them into the wild. However, after much time, this has yet to happen. It’s not clear as to why they are still penned-up at Munsusa Temple. This is rather strange because the Korean government is attempting to re-populate Korea, and specifically Jirisan National Park, with the Asiatic black bear. Whether it’s because the black bears have now grown too accustom to human contact, of whether it’s something else; either way, the four Asiatic black bears still remain housed at Munsusa Temple for all visitors to see.

Just up the embankment, and up an uneven set of stairs, are three more temple structures in the upper courtyard at Munsusa Temple. The first of these, and the one to the far right, is a meditative hall for monks to meditate and enjoy the beautiful of Mt. Jirisan. In the centre of these three structures is the Munsu-jeon Hall. Housed inside this temple shrine hall is a solitary image of a crowned Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom). And to the far left, you’ll find a Sanshin/Dokseong-gak Hall. Inside this shaman shrine hall, you’ll find two rather simple murals dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). It’s from this vantage point that you get the most beautiful view of the valley below.

How To Get There

From the Gurye Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take a taxi to get to Munsusa Temple. The reason for this is that there isn’t a bus that goes directly to the temple from the Gurye Intercity Bus Terminal location. From the bus terminal, the taxi ride will cost you 14,000 won (one way). And the ride will take about forty minutes. And if you’re feeling adventurous, there’s a trail that leads from Munsusa Templeover to the famed Hwaeomsa Temple.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Munsusa Temple is a tough temple to rate. If you love bears, and you don’t mind seeing them caged up, then this temple easily becomes a ten out of ten. However, if you prefer your bears in the wild, Munsusa Temple should suffer a far lower rating. With that being said, there are a few other highlights outside the four Asiatic black bears like the newly built three-story wooden pagoda and the stunning location of Munsusa Temple in Jirisan National Park. Either way, this temple can leave you feeling conflicted.

The entry to Munsusa Temple.
And a statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) along the way.
The prominent three-story wooden pagoda at the centre of the Munsusa Temple grounds.
A different angle of the elaborate dancheong colours that adorn the wooden pagoda.
A look inside the pagoda at the main altar.
To the right is this shrine hall with a Reclining Buddha statue.
To the left of the wooden pagoda is the temple’s Jong-ru (Bell Pavilion).
The enclosure for the four Asiatic black bears at Munsusa Temple.
One of the Asiatic black bears.
And another.
The Munsu-jeon Hall in the upper courtyard at the temple.
A crowned image of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) inside the compact Munsu-jeon Hall.
A look towards the Munsu-jeon Hall from the Sanshin/Dokseong-gak Hall.
And the amazing view outwards towards Mt. Jirisan from the Sanshin/Dokseong-gak Hall.

Frogs and Toads – 개구리와 두꺼비

A Family of Toads at Daewonsa Temple in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Introduction

Rather interestingly, you’ll find several stories related to frogs, toads and Korean Buddhist temples. Some great examples of this can be found inside the Yeongsan-jeon Hall at Tongdosa Temple, which has a frog relief sitting in front of a lotus flower on the ceiling of this temple shrine hall. You can also find a similar image inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at Tongdosa Temple, as well. You can also find Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha) and dongja (attendants) holding a frog or toad, as well. They almost appear to be like a toy in their hands that they’re playing with. These frogs and toads can be found as paintings, statues, or in creation myths like at Jajangam Hermitage in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do on the Tongdosa Temple grounds. So why exactly are frogs and toads found so often in Korean Buddhism and its artwork?

The Huye and Hangah Myth

In Korea, kids believe that there is a rabbit on the moon pounding grain in a mortar. It’s also believed that there’s a toad living on the moon, as well. In ancient East Asian art, there are numerous descriptions about the features of the sky, the land, the sun, and the moon. So why exactly is there a toad living on the moon?

A long time ago, there was a man known as “Huye – 후예” who was a mythological archer. In Chinese, this archer is known as Hou Yi, and he’s referred to as Lord Archer, as well. Huye is often portrayed as a god of archery that descended from the heavens to aid humans. Huye saw that humans were suffering from having ten suns in the sky. Because of the ten suns, the ground was too dry and the mountains were on fire all the time, so Huye decided to shoot down nine of the suns with his arrows. Because he was so accurate, nine of the suns dropped from the sky. Since then, people could live in peace. As each of the suns fell, they became three-legged ravens. Because the tenth sun was so scared of being shot down, it hid, which plunged the earth into darkness. The Jade Emperor was angry at Huye, so he took away his position as a god and kicked him and his wife, Hanga – 항아 out of the heavens and into the human world.

An image of Hanga – 항아 (Picture Courtesy of Naver).

Huye found living on earth to be difficult, but as long as he had his wife, Hanga, by his side, he wasn’t lonely. But even still, Huye longed to return to the heavens and be a god, once more. In fact, Huye tried so hard that he met the queen of the Taoist hermit Seowangmo – 서왕모. From Seowangmo, Huye received an elixir. The queen said to Huye, if both you and your wife, Hanga, take this, then you will live forever without disease. There are a few variations as to what happened next. One variation states that Hanga overheard that the elixir would grant immortality. So Hanga consumed the elixir while Huye was sleeping. Scared to be caught by her husband, Hanga ran away to the moon to escape her husband’s anger. In fact, Huye was so upset with his wife that he aimed one of his arrows at Hanga. However, he couldn’t bring himself to shoot an arrow at his wife and kill her. Over time, Huye’s anger dissipated. Eventually, Huye left Hanga’s favourite desserts and fruits outside each night to show that he had forgiven her.

Another variation describes how the Jade Emperor locked Hanga up in the moon. She cried so much from her guilt and loneliness. As a result, she turned into a toad. And the immortality elixir that she drank, that still remained in her throat, came out her mouth because of all the crying she was doing. This elixir then turned into a rabbit. It’s said that Hanga still lives on the moon and sings a song to her husband, Huye. This story is written in the Chinese encyclopedia known as the “Hoenamja – 회남자” in Korean. And in Eastern and Southeastern Asia, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated to commemorate Hanga. This is a harvest festival, where it’s common to have fruits and sweets placed on an open outdoor altar for Hanga, so that they can be blessed.

A pond at Jaoksansa Temple in northern Gyeongju

The Frog and the Toad: A Korean Symbol for Foresight, Fecundity, and Abundance

In Korea, the frog is a symbol for foresight, fecundity, and abundance. Historically, Koreans believed that frogs had foresight because frogs can sense the fall of rain before it happens. An example of this can be found during the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.). During this time, Queen Seondeok of Silla (r. 632 – 647) predicted three things. In one of these three predictions, and on a cold day, frogs cried out for four days and nights at Okmunji Pond at Yeongmyosa Temple. This happened despite the fact that it was winter. So Queen Seondeok thought that something was off. So Queen Seondeok decided to send two thousand soldiers to be close to the neighbouring valley. When the soldiers arrived just outside the valley, they found some five hundred Baekje soldiers hiding in the valley. The two sides fought, and the Silla soldiers won. In fact, a portion of these soldiers were able to protect the palace where the queen resided. Of course, this happened because of Queen Seondeok’s foresight as a leader, but people also believed that because of the frogs’ foresight, it helped save the Silla Kingdom.

Inside the Samguk Sagi, or “History of the Three Kingdoms” in English, specifically in the “Kings’ History of Goguryeo,” you’ll find another story about a frog’s foresight. In this story, when people saw frogs fighting, they expected the decline of north Buyeo. And whenever the country was thrown into turmoil and chaos, people would witness frogs crying; either that, or a group of frogs would be found dead. As a result, people of Goguryeo believed that frogs were a symbol of foresight.

A collection of aquatic animals including frogs in a wooden relief inside the Mireuk-jeon Hall at Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

And yet another story about frogs relates to them as a symbol of fecundity and abundance. As is commonly known, frogs lay a lot of eggs. In fact, some three thousand can be laid at one time. So traditionally, in Korea, honeymooners would have folding screens and hanging scrolls with frogs painted on them near the bedside in hopes of having numerous children. Additionally, fecundity means abundance; and in Korea, abundance was a sign of good luck. So there is a lot of artwork in and around temples with frogs or toads because they are believed to be a sign of good luck. An example of this is a Nahan holding a frog. More specifically, you can find a Yeongsanhoesang-do – 영산회상도 at the Tongdosa Temple museum originally from the neighbouring Munsusa Temple in Ulsan. There are two unique features to Nahan in this painting. First, you can find a frog being held in the hand of the Nahan. The Nahan is smiling, while the other Nahan are surprised. The reason for this surprise is that frogs are considered to be hard to find; and as a result, a symbol of good luck. This temple artwork is humourous example of late Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) Buddhist expression and artistry.

The Frog and the Buddha

One day, a frog wanted to listen to the Buddha’s teachings, so it came out of a pond to listen. Heading towards the Buddha, the frog was accidentally killed by one of the listener’s canes, so the spirit of the frog was separated from its body. When the frog awoke, the frog realized that it had been reborn on top of the Buddha’s land. The frog couldn’t believe it. The frog thought, “I was an animal in my former life. Then how could I be reborn in this heavenly palace?” With this, the frog realized that it had sacrificed itself to listen to the Buddha’s teachings. So the frog finally made its way towards the Buddha. There, it prayed appreciatively. Seeing this, the Buddha made the frog a saint. This story is written in the Gyeongryul-isang. Usually frogs are discussed passingly in other Buddhist texts; however, in this Buddhist text, the frog is elevated above its lowly station in life. More specifically, that even a lowly creature can become something more with an earnest heart and the teachings of the Buddha.

Jajang-yulsa and a golden frog at Jajangam Hermitage in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Frogs in a lotus pond at Baekyangsa Temple in Ulsan.

Example of Frogs and Toads

Frogs and toads are commonly found throughout Korean Buddhist temples and hermitage like the aforementioned ceiling of the Yeongsan-jeon Hall at Tongdosa Temple. It can also be found at Hyuhyuam Hermitage in Yangyang, Gangwon-do and around the main hall at Jajangam Hermitage in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. Another place that you can commonly see frogs is on the art adorning a Jangeom Sumidan (altar). It’s common to find a frog relief sitting atop a lotus flower in this style of Buddhist artwork.

Citation

I would like to thank the Wolgan Tongdo – 월간 통도 for a large portion of this insightful information.

I would also like to thank Irene Ye for this wonderful translation of the original article. If you would like to get in contact with Irene Ye for her to do some translation work for you, please let me know, and I will get in contact with her.

A stone sculpture of a toad at Hyuhyuam Hermitage in Yangyang, Gangwon-do.

Important Hanja Pairs: 有 (유) and 無 (무) (한자) | Korean FAQ

Two more useful Hanja to know are 有 (유) and 無 (무).

유 has the meaning of 있다, while 무 has the meaning of 없다.

Where have you seen either of these characters used before? Let me know in the video comments~!

The post Important Hanja Pairs: 有 (유) and 無 (무) (한자) | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Squid Game from Korea turns into a whale gain for Netflix


The Korean entertainment business has kept standing out in the world.  PSY taught 5 billion people how to horse dance.  The boy band  BTS is commanding an Army of millions of fans around the world.   The Parasite was the first foreign film to win  the best picture Academy Award in 2020.   Now  the turn for K-dramas.   The "Squid Game '' released on Netflix on  Sep 17  now ranks  No.1 in all the 83 nations where Netflix service is available   The New York Post reported that over 14 billion videos with the hashtag #SquidGame have appeared on Tik Tok since Sep 17. Ted Sanrandos, co-CEO of Netflix said 'Squid Game will definitely be our biggest non-English language show in the world, for sure."   The Squid Game revolves around 456 debt ridden players betting their lives to participate in a series of survival games planned by mysterious hosts, in which the last winner earns prize money of 45.6 billion Won( $38.7M)

I watched the Squid Game a week ago. Pretty harmful. The UN or WHO should ban it immediately for the health of people around the world for its addictive contents. Once your eyes are on it, there is no way you can get away from it for the next 9 hours, turning you into an instant insomniac, worse than a heart attack each time  a new  Louis Vuitton or Prada handbag pops up in your living room. 




 

Why you shouldn’t compare your Korean to others

When you're learning Korean at any level, you sometimes can't help but see other learners and compare yourself with their progress.

After all, if someone else is doing the same journey you are, you might feel curious to know how they're doing things, where they're at, and how fast they got there.

However, while it may be unavoidable to do this, it's not a good idea for several reasons. I also have a lot of experience learning Korean, and also comparing myself to others, and I've learned along the way that it's not a productive thing to spend my time doing.

So let me share two of my methods for tracking my progress, and also how I can continue to improve my speaking abilities.

The post Why you shouldn’t compare your Korean to others appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

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