Most Common Korean Words Pronounced Wrong Part. 1

Pronouncing Korean can be difficult given the many exceptions to basic pronunciation rules. In many cases, words seemingly simple have a different pronunciation from their 한글 spelling. Below are listed the most common words that have a different pronunciation from their spelling. These common words were selected among the first 1000 words from the book A Frequency Dictionary of Korean. This list will be updated with relevant pronunciation guides on KoniKorean when available.

Notes about the table:

  • Rank corresponds to the rank in A Frequency Dictionary of Koreanfrom most common in the Korean language to least common.
  • Pronunciation was extracted from the Naver Dictionary of Korean.
  • Words with especially tricky pronunciation are in yellow rows.
  • Meaning is presented for quick reference; many words have different meanings depending on context.
  • The colon : indicates that the preceding syllable is a long one.
Rank Word Pronunciation Meaning  
36 없다 업:따 to not be  
39 않다 안타 to not have  
58 그렇다 그러타 to be like that  
96 좋다 조:타 to be good  
131 많다 만:타 to be many  
132 갖다 갇따 to have  
143 놓다 노타 to put  
209 앉다 안따 to sit  
239 찾다 찯따 to find  
283 짓다 짇:따 to build  
295 묻다 묻:따 to ask  
375 맞다 맏따 to be right  
376 옛날 옌:날 (in) the past  
384 대통령 대:통녕 president  
398 북한 부칸 North Korea  
421 국민 궁민 the citizens  
424 밝히다 발키다 to lighten  
434 특히 트키 especially  
450 국가 국까 a nation (country)  
451 읽다 익따 to read  
494 넘다 넘:따 to go over  
520 끝나다 끈나다 to finish  
599 굉장히 궹장히/굉장히 extremely  
610 삼: life  
611 듯하다 드타다 to seem to  
616 젊다 점:따 to be young  
639 계획 게:훽/계:획 a plan  
643 싫다 실타 to hate/dislike  
659 사용하다 사:용하다 to use  
661 붙이다 부치다 to stick  
664 저희 저히 we, our  
665 a flower  
665-bis 꽃이 꼬치 a flower (w/ subject particle)  
668 입장 입짱 position, stance  
670 활동 활똥 activity  
682 변화 변:화 change  
725 갑자기 갑짜기 suddenly  
736 맞추다 맏추다 to match  
763 일단 일딴 first  
767 죄:/줴: crime  
778 발전 발쩐 development  
787 회장 회:장/훼:장 president (of a company)  
793 계시다 게:시다/계:시다 to exist, to stay (honorifics)  
815 단계 단게/단계 a stage, a step  
816 국제 국쩨 international  
819 국내 궁내 domestic (national)  
821 회의 회:의/훼:이 a meeting  
823 가능성 가:능썽 possibility  
824 원래 월래 originally  
831 관련 괄련 relation  
837 성격 성:껵 personality  
844 역할 여칼 role  
847 산업 사:넙 industry  
853 잃다 일타 to lose  
854 능력 능녁 ability  
858 학년 항년 counter for school years  
859 직접 직쩝 in person  
876 행동 행동 (not 행똥) behavior  
886 옮기다 옴기다 to move  
897 국회 구쾨/구퀘 congress  
923 대회 대:회/대:훼 competition  
947 최고 췌:고/최:고 the best  
963 price  
973 기회 기회/기훼 an opportunity, a chance  
990 집단 집딴 a group  
996 회/훼 number of times  
→ cf. Part. 2 for words 1001-1500

Pronunciation Tips

  • When in doubt, use the Naver Korean Dictionary to confirm the pronunciation of a word. Especially useful for words of Chinese origins, such as 778. 발전 pronounced [발쩐] instead of [발전].


Note: something many Koreans do not realize but do naturally is the presence of short and long vowels. While these have disappeared from modern Hangul, they are still used to subtly differentiate between words. For example, a lot of beginner books state than 말 (speech) and 말 (horse) are pronounced the same and that context helps differentiate the two words; however, 말 (speech) has actually a long "a" vowel sound whereas 말 (horse) has a short "a" sound. In the dictionary, syllables with long vowels are followed by a colon sign, for example "말 [말:]" for speech and "말" for horse (pronunciation in the Naver dictionary is displayed only for words that have a pronunciation different from their spelling).