Culture articles and intermediate vocabulary and grammar to get closer to Korea day by day!

Public Transportation in Korea (Vocabulary)

Public transportation is omnipresent in Korea and is faster than driving in most cases. This post gives you an overview of public transportation-related vocabulary that you may encounter and use in South Korea.

대중교통 (大衆交通) public transportation

교통수단 (交通手段)

transportation means

노선도 (路線圖)

route map

목적지 (目的地)

one’s destination

실시간 (實時間)

real time

2[이]번 출구 (出口)

exit number 2

교통카드 (交通카드)

transportation card

기차 (汽車)

열차 (列車)


See more vocabulary and examples by reading the full post.

Pattern V-더니 Past Observation of the Speaker

V-더니 is used to describe an observation of the speaker about people or things, or a change that came to be known through personal experience, and always precedes a statement resulting from that observation. A good example in English/Korean of how this pattern would be used: "my friend used to eat a lot of ice cream before더니 these days he even hates the sight of ice cream." V-더니 can therefore only be used in the middle of a sentence and can never end a sentence.

The clause before V-더니 can only be in the second or third person, so this pattern is therefore not appropriate to describe things the speaker has done. It is used to describe what the speaker has noticed about the external environment.


예전에 친구가 아이스크림를 많이 먹더니 요즘에 아이스크림을 보기도 싫어해요.
(I noticed before that) My friend ate a lot of ice cream in the past but now he hates even the sight of ice cream.
아침에 구름이 많더니 오후에는 없어졌어요. 
(I noticed) there were a lot of clouds in the morning, but they have all disappeared in the afternoon.
친구가 직장을 다니기 시작하더니 이제는 바빠서 못만나요.
Now that my friend has started working, we cannot meet a lot because he is busy (implies that the speaker and the friend used to meet a lot before).

Hanja 火 (화) - Fire, Anger

한자 (pronounced [한짜]) are the Chinese characters behind many Korean words used in modern Korean. Being aware of them helps with guessing word meanings and retention of new vocabulary.

火 (화) as a character has two main English meanings, fire and anger, and is used in many words related to these concepts. When 火 is used by itself as a word, it almost always means anger. as a radical that appears in many other 한자, such as (, flame) or  (, disaster). Read the article for examples of words including 火 (화) fire, anger.

Differences between -던 and -았/었던 (retrospective modifiers)

The retrospective modifier V/Adj-던 (e.g., 하던) and its past version V/Adj-았/었던 (했던) are both used to describe processes, states, or situations that happened/took place in the past. In a lot of cases, V/Adj-던 and V/Adj-았/었던 are very similar. The subtle differences manifest if the speaker chooses intentionally between one or the other.

V/Adj-던 describes a situation that was not finished in the past and interrupted before completion; or an action that was repeated continuously in the past or was done just once but may happen again.

However, when the modifier -던 has the past marker in front (V/Adj-았/었던), it means the past action/situation was already completed at the time of speaking.

In short, V/Adj-던 and V/Adj-았/었던 are both for past events but V/Adj-던 is more used for actions that were continued/sustained/repeated habitually or a past action that was in progress but was interrupted (not finished) at the time of speaking, whereas V/Adj-았/었던 is used for actions that have finished in the past and are totally disconnected from the present.

TOPIK II Reading - Vocabulary Questions

Each TOPIK II (한국어능력시험 중-고급) reading section has two questions (questions 3 and 4) that will ask you to replace the underlined text by a similar expression. While it may seem like a hard task, knowing the expressions that came out in previous tests will help a lot as they tend to come out regularly. Learning their equivalence should help you answer this question correctly. See examples.

Tip: Even if you know only two patterns out of the five in the question, don't panic! The sentences for questions 3 and 4 usually make sense, so if you can translate it to English and one of the answers seems to make them, pick that one. If not, eliminate the ones that you know cannot fit, and pick your best guess between the remaining options. 

Some patterns from previous tests:

V-기만 하면 = V-ㄹ/을 때마다

V-어/아 봐야 = V-ㄴ/은다고 해도

V-나 보다 = V-는 모양이다 / V-ㄹ/을 모양이다 = V-ㄹ/을 것만 같다

V-ㄴ/은 거나 마찬가지이다 = V-ㄴ/은 셈이다

V-는 바람에 = V-ㄴ/은 탓에

Buying Korean 라면 (Ramyeon, or Ramen noodles) on Amazon US

Amazon is a great place to buy Korean food, but finding Korean noodles, or ramyeon, on it can be a little daunting. This post lists some of the best Korean ramen (라면) products to buy on Amazon, such as Shin Ramyun (신라면) or Buldalk Bokkum Myeon (불닭볶음면).

Quick Links

  • Ansung Tang Myun 농심안성탕면 - ramen with miso taste (Amazon)
  • Buldak Bokkum Myeon 삼양 불닭볶음면 - fire chicken ramen (Amazon)
  • Cheese Ramyeon 오뚜기 치즈라면 - ramen with dried cheese (Amazon)
  • Chapagetti 농심 짜파게티 - ramen with black bean paste (짜장) taste (Amazon)
  • Jin Ramen 오뚜기 진라면 (Unavailable)
  • Kokomyun 팔도 꼬꼬면 - chicken ramen with clear broth (Amazon)
  • Namja Ramyun 팔도 남자라면 - spicy ramen with red broth and strong garlic taste (Amazon)
  • Neoguri 농심 너구리 - spicy seafood ramen (Amazon)
  • Rabokki 팔도 라볶이 - ramen with tteokbokki taste (Amazon)
  • Shin Ramen 농심 신라면 (Amazon) / Shin Black 농심 신라면 블랙 (Amazon)
  • Volcano Chicken Noodle 팔도 블케이노 치킨볶음면 - spicy chicken ramen (Amazon)

Read the rest of the article for descriptions, prices, and tips on how to buy ramen on Amazon!

Difference between V-려고 하다 and V-기로 하다, to plan something

Wondered about the difference between V-려고 하다 and V-기로 하다 when they mean "to plan something"? Look no further!

This post focuses on the two constructs when they mean "to plan something."

  • Simply put, V-(으)려고 했다 (했어요) means "to have planned something (but the plan did not go through)." The idea of "intention" is communicated with this pattern. 
  • Simply put, V-기로 했다 (했어요) also means "to have planned something." The idea of "decision" is communicated with this pattern.

Both expressions are most often used with 하다 conjugated in the past tense, so V-(으)려고 했다 and V-기로 했다. However, V-(으)려고 했다 means the plan has not been completed, were canceled, abandoned, etc.; because of that it is often followed by -ㄴ/는데 or -지만 (V-(으)려고 했는데 / V-(으)려고 했지만).

V-기로 했다 is used for plans regardless of completion. V-기로 했다 does not have a negative connotation, whereas V-(으)려고 했다 does. However, plans already completed will usually be expressed with the past tense, V-았/었다. 


1) 친구들이랑 점심을 먹으려고 했어요.
I planned to eat lunch with my friends (but, depending on the context, did not eat it or canceled it). 
2) 친구들이랑 점심을 먹기로 했어요.
I planned to eat lunch with my friends (and have not had lunch with my friends yet, i.e. the plan is upcoming, is not canceled).
2bis) 친구들이랑 점심을 먹었어요.
I ate lunch with my friends.

Read the rest of the article for nuances and other examples!

The Routledge Course in Business Korean

The Routledge Course in Business Korean (비즈니스 한국어) by Young-Key Kim-Renaud and Miok Pak introduces the reader to the necessary vocabulary, grammar, and cultural knowledge to navigate the complex world of doing business in South Korea. The book is structured in 15 units and 3 business cases. Each unit starts with a dialogue about a specific business situation, such as a job interview or a business trip.

Pattern V–아/어 보다: to try to V

The common pattern V-아/어 보다, meaning "to try to V," is used with a conjugated verb and is more frequent in conversations.

혹시 재고가 있는지 확인해 보고 오겠습니다. I will (try to) confirm (≈ I will check) if we have it in stock and come back.
착용해보고 싶은 것이 있으신가요? Is there anything you want to try on (≈ try to wear)?
32사이즈 입어 봐도 될까요? Can I try (to wear) the one in size 32?
부산에 가 봤어요? Have you ever been to Busan? (≈ Have you tried to go to Busan?)