Learning Korean can be daunting without the proper resources. This page lists some of the most popular books available to learn Korean or to discover more about Korean culture. Reviews available on KoniKorean are linked when available. Books with a  star are recommended by KoniKorean.

Language Learning

General Purpose

 Elementary Korean, Continuing Korean, and Advanced Korean

Elementary KoreanContinuing Korean, and Advanced Korean by Ross King and Jaehoon Yeon – A great series to learn Korean through dialogues, copious vocabulary lists and detailled grammar explanations. The books come with CD audios or MP3 files to download online depending on the edition. The Elementary Korean has a separate workbook that can be purchased, with additional exercises. The Advanced Korean book has a focus on Chinese characters to prepare the reader for self-learning past the series.

Who is this series for? Self-learners of Korean who want a step-by-step, all-in-one book with dialogues, vocabulary, grammar, and exercises.

Links: Review of Elementary Korean (KoniKorean)Continuing Korean (KoniKorean) • Buy Elementary Korean (and its workbook), Continuing Korean, or Advanced Korean on Amazon.


 Korean: a Comprehensive Grammar

Korean: a Comprehensive Grammar by Jaehoon Yeon and Lucien Brown – A terrific grammar book with most (if not all) grammar patterns that Korean learners — beginner to advanced — will encounter in their studies. A new edition of the book has been recently published (2019) and contains more of the infrequent Korean grammar patterns, making it an all-the-more valuable reference. This book does not have exercises or vocabulary lists (besides peculiar verbs), but can easily be complemented by the  Elementary, Continuing, and Advanced Korean series, also co-written by Jaehoon Yeon. Highly recommended.

Who is this book for? Learners of all levels who want a grammar that they can refer to regardless of the question they have.

Links: Review (KoniKorean) • Buy Korean: A Comprehensive Grammar on Amazon.

Basic Korean: a Grammar and Workbook

Basic Korean: a Grammar and Workbook by Andrew Sangpil Byon – A great grammar for beginners, with many examples and exercises for step-by-step learning. The book also contains vocabulary lists for each chapter, when most grammar books only contain grammar. The only reason this grammar is not recommended is that the reader may quickly outgrow the grammar points in the book; and, as opposed to  Korean: a Comprehensive Grammar, it has little value for intermediate and advanced learners. 

Who is Basic Korean: a Grammar and Workbook for? People who know absolutely nothing in Korean and want a book that can serve as a reference for their first year of self-study.

Links: Buy on  Amazon.

한자 (Chinese Characters)

Chinese Characters Cognates - 808 Common Hanja

Chinese Characters Cognates - 808 Common Hanja by Joon Geem – A reference of the most common Chinese characters, or 한자 (Hanja), encountered in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. The book offers a Korean table to look up 한자 by their 한글 pronunciation. One to three examples of Korean words are provided for each Chinese character, as well as a few sentences about the etymology of the character.

Who is Chinese Characters Cognates - 808 Common Hanja for? Advanced learners of Korean, or learners who already know either Japanese or Korean.

Links: Review (KoniKorean) • Buy on Amazon

Your First Hanja Guide (Talk To Me In Korean)

Your First Hanja Guide co-written by Talk To Me In Korean – a resource for first-timers in the world of 한자. The book introduces the reader to 118 new characters step-by-step, nicely mixing simple and more complex characters in number of strokes to keep the reader's interest. The book has many example words for each character, but few example sentences on average. While the presentation and content is great for intermediate students learning 한자 for the first time, it falls short of being a reference book for advanced learners of Korean.

Who is this book for? Intermediate learners of Korean who have never learned Chinese characters or only know a few.

Links: Full Review (KoniKorean)Buy on Amazon

Dictionaries and Lists

A Frequency Dictionary of Korean

A Frequency Dictionary of Korean – A useful dictionary listing 5000 most common words, ordered from most common to least common instead of 한글 order. The word frequencies were calculated from a corpus of texts including novels, newspaper articles, children books, and more. The order is therefore not appropriate for beginners starting in Korean and wanting to speak fast (e.g., many of the initial words are frequent in newspapers but not in conversation), but very valuable for people preparing TOPIK II (한국어능력시험) as they can check for completeness of their vocabulary.

Who is this book for? Advanced learners of Korean studying for TOPIK II or wanting to check their vocabulary.

Links: Review (KoniKorean) • Buy on Amazon

Thematic Learning

 The Routledge Course in Business Korean

The Routledge Course in Business Korean – A great resource for people working in South Korea or preparing to enter the Korean workforce, as well as advanced learners preparing for TOPIK. This book contains a lot of specialized vocabulary ranging from marketing to manufacturing that the reader learns through dialogues and case studies. The Routledge Course in Business Korean also teaches grammar points commonly spoken but rarely mentioned in grammar books, and Chinese characters to help the reader guess the meaning of unknown words.

Who is this book for?Intermediate learners working or preparing to work in South Korea, and advanced learners of Korean studying for TOPIK II or wanting to check their vocabulary.

Links: Review (KoniKorean) • Buy on Amazon