Book Review: A Frequency Dictionary of Korean

Cover of A Frequency of Korean: Core Vocabulary for Learners

An invaluable resource for Korean learners, Routledge's A Frequency Dictionary of Korean: Core Vocabulary for Learners catalogs the 5,000 most frequent Korean words with their pronunciation and an example sentence for each. This book is very useful for several reasons:

– Thematic vocabulary lists: 24 inserts throughout the book are dedicated to the most frequent words about a single topic. Useful to quickly memorize conversational words. See the sample page below for an example.
– An alphabetical index at the end of the book helps quickly find any Korean word present in the book.
– Each word is accompanied by a sample sentence. Really useful to understand how the word fits within a sentence and the grammatical patterns associated with them.

This book is to be used as a complement to regular studies for intermediate to advanced learners. Because the list order in this book is based on a corpus of many texts as old as 1980 and ranging from newspapers to scripts and scenarios, it can especially be helpful to review the book before a TOPIK exam to check any gap in knowledge.

Some minor problems include:

– The absence of an English-to-Korean index, which makes an English-to-Korean dictionary a necessity.
– The pronunciation of words is very hard to read because written in alphabet instead of 한글. 한글 pronunciation would have been useful for some difficult Sino-Korean words (see examples from this book).
– I noted some mistakes (e.g., word #894 담다 is translated as "wall, fence" although it is a verb).

Below is a sample page of A Frequency Dictionary of Korean: Core Vocabulary for Learners. The grey box on top is one of the 24 thematic vocabulary lists.

Sample of a page from A Frequency Dictionary of Korean: Core Vocabulary for Learners

All in all, this dictionary is highly recommended for beginners to advanced learners of Korean.