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Review of Chinese Characters Cognates - 808 Common Hanja

This book by Joon Geem lists the 808 most common 한자 Chinese characters in Mandarin (hanzi), Japanese (kanji), and Korean (한자) in a compelling format. This book is particularly recommended to language learners or both Japanese and Korean or Chinese and Korean. For each of the 808 most common Chinese characters across China, Korean, and Taiwan; the author lists the corresponding simplified Chinese character, the Japanese kanji, and the Korean hanja (한자).

Buses in South Korea


There are two major categories of buses in South Korea: 시내버스 (市內버스) or intra-city buses, and 시외버스 (市外버스) or intercity buses. 시내버스 include 마을버스, 지선버스, and some 간선버스 lines, while 시외버스 include some 간선버스 lines, 광역버스, and 고속버스

마을버스 are neighborhood buses (literally "village buses") that stop every few blocks in both residential and commercial areas. In Seoul, many of these buses run in a loop, with one or two stops connecting to subway stations. Their routes are the shortest among city buses. Walking is sometimes faster than taking a 마을버스, especially during rush hours, as these buses rarely take bus lanes. In Seoul, these buses are green and shorter than regular buses.

Trains in South Korea

Trains are probably the fastest and most comfortable means of transportation in South Korea. Most of the time they are faster than buses are they cannot get stuck in traffic, and they are also faster than planes in that train stations are usually in downtown areas rather than in suburbs. There are also plenty of train options for traveling within a city or a metropolitan area, such as subways and suburban trains. For tourists however riding trains in South Korea can be overwhelming given the number of train services available, the different operators, and the different booking processes. This post summarizes all you need to know to book and ride trains in South Korea.

Intercity Train Services

There are several types of intercity train service in Korea. From fastest to slowest (and most expensive to cheapest): KTX & SRT, ITX & 새마을, 누리로 & 무궁화. Most services (except the SRT) are run by Korail (코레일), a public company.

Korail train service logos in South Korea

The different train services run by Korail (all but SRT) and SR (SRT) (adapted from https://flytoazuresky.tistory.com/602?category=669623)

KTX, for Korea Train eXpress, is the fastest transportation link between most cities in South Korea. Two classes of service are available, first class and economy, with economy class being usually 20% to 30% cheaper than first class. First class offers more legroom than the already excellent legroom in economy, so the higher ticket price may be hard to justify. Standing tickets can also be booked; these tickets do not have assigned seats and require standing if no seats are available. They are not drastically cheaper than economy tickets (5% to 15% cheaper) and are probably best booked when there is no stop between your origin and destination stations (such as 광명역 – 대전역).

KTX tickets can be booked in English on the Korail website. They can also be bought directly at any Korail station, such as 서울역 (Seoul station) or 용산역 (Yongsan station) in Seoul.

SRT is another train service run by a sister company of Korail. While KTX lines originate mostly from 서울역 or 용산역, SRT service originates from 수서역 in 강남구. SRT service map does not have as many stations as the KTX service,  but trains travel at similar speeds (수서 - 부산 in 2 hours 25 minutes) for similar prices. SRT may thus be a better option if you are traveling from areas surrounding 강남. A lot of Korean people do not know about SRT since it is a relatively new service (2016), so be aware of this option when booking your train itineraries. 

Learn about other train services in South Korea by reading the full post.

Metropolitan Train Services

Most major cities in Korea have an independently-run metropolitan train service, usually a mix of underground and overground trains, that connects the city center(s) to the suburban areas. These are different from intercity train services in that, in most cases, tickets do not need to be purchased in advance; instead, passengers need to tap their T-money cards onto the card readers before boarding their train. This includes the Seoul Metropolitan Subway, the Busan Metro, and the Daejeon Metro. Learn more about the different options to get around Korean cities by reading the full post.

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!