Home Blog Projects

Learning Korean for 20 Days and Traveling to Seoul, South Korea

· 20min · life

I studied Korean for 20 days and traveled to Seoul, South Korea! I spent around 1 hour each morning studying. My sister is from Seoul and this trip was in the works for a long time. As of this post, I’m still a beginner in Korean. But, I sure learned a lot! I enjoyed the experience of traveling to a new country and appreciating their culture.

In this post, I’ll talk about all the places my family and I visited. Also, we’ll dive into all the Korean I learned leading up to and during my trip to Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea Trip Itinerary

I am by no means a travel blogger. I didn’t take many notes during the trip because I like enjoying the moment. In fact, I almost never take pictures but I’m trying to be better about it. Most of the photos I have from the trip are stolen from my sister 😂.

Below are all the notable places we visited. Our visit was five days long, with two days for travel. I recommend you check these out if you visit Seoul! For transportation, buy yourself a T-Money Card. It’s a prepaid public transportation card for cities across South Korea. You can buy one at Incheon Airport, in convenience stores, or in public transportation stations.

Also, one of the nights I took the metro to the Gangnam district. I went to a language exchange meetup from meetup.com where I met some awesome people living in South Korea (both natives and foreigners). They gave me great tips and suggestions on where to visit!

20 Days of Korean

As soon as I started learning Korean I added the 2-set Korean keyboard to my MacBook for ease of use. To switch back and forth between the US keyboard to the Korean keyboard, I hot-keyed it to cmd + .. I also added this keyboard on my phone. This allowed me to use the Korean alphabet easily. I used both Duolingo and Billy Go’s Korean beginner series on YouTube to learn Korean!

If you have an advanced level of Korean and find any mistakes in this post, please feel free to let me know! This blog is all open source and I welcome any constructive feedback.

In all my examples, I try to avoid romanization as much as possible. I recommend you learn the Korean alphabet and how to pronounce each letter. In fact, in Billy Go’s Korean beginner YouTube series they do just that!

Important Phrases

Below, you will find a reference of important phrases. These are phrases I found myself using everyday.

Everyday Phrases

Conversation Stuff


Remember to bow slightly when meeting or seeing someone. For close friends you don’t have to bow. Hold your elbow with the other hand when shaking hands in formal or business situations.

Restaurant Vocabulary

When you’re done eating, pay your check at the front of the restaurant. Normally, they don’t bring the check to the table. Also, in South Korea people do not typically leave tips.

Airport Vocabulary

Billy Go’s Beginner Korean Course

Course Intro (Ep 1)

Intro to 한글 (Ep 2)

There are 14 consonants and 10 vowels. Romanization is bad because it doesn’t accurately represent the Korean language. The stroke order when writing each letter in Korean is very important. You should draw from left to right and top to bottom.


Writing a consonant by itself has no sound. You need a consonant with a vowel. As noted before, the romanizations don’t accurately represent the phonetics of the language.


Whenever you have a ㅅ and it’s before a vowel with an ㅣ sound, it sounds more like “sh.” This applies toㅣ and all the “y” sounding vowels.


Consonants and vowels come together to form syllables. In total There are 6 types of syllable blocks. Here are some examples:

Continued Learning of 한글 - First Letters (Ep 3)

Continued Learning of 한글 - New Kinds of Syllables (Ep 4)

Continued Learning of 한글 - More Vowels (Ep 5)

Continued Learning of 한글 - More Syllables (Ep 6)

Blending syllables when pronouncing:

3 consonants and one vertical vowel, 3 consonants with horizontal vowel:

How to read ㄹ:

Learning 한글 Double and Strong Consonants (Ep 7)

Double Consonants

Double consonants take up the same space as one normal consonant. They are pronounced the same way as their normal forms, but you tense your mouth a bit before pronouncing them. Try it by pausing a bit before pronouncing it. It’s easier to practice double consonants with actual words. Like 아가 vs 아까.

Hold up a tissue paper in front of your mouth when practicing:


Strong Consonants

Strong constants as the name suggests have a much stronger sound. There are only 4. They’re pronounced the same as the normal versions, but with more force.

Hold up a tissue paper in front of your mouth when practicing:


Learning 한글 Diphthongs (Ep 8)

Diphthongs are a fancy name for a vowel which is a combination of two vowels. Simply say the first vowel on the left followed by the vowel on the right quickly.

To pronounce the names of the consonants themselves (also applies to strong consonants) we take the consonant and attach the vowel ㅣ. Then you attach the syllable 으, followed by the same consonant at the bottom. For example, 리을. Here are 3 irregulars:

For double consonants, take the normal form and then add 쌍:

Vowels are just pronounced as they are written, but you’d add the ㅇ consonant before them to make a syllable.

Sound Change Rules for 한글 (Episode 9)

맛이 - “ma shi”

But, how would you pronounce just 맛? It’s pronounced more like “maht.” We don’t want to add extra sounds for the ㅅ consonant.

Sound change rules make Korean sound smoother. Websites like “Naver” have all pronunciations if you are even unsure: https://korean.dict.naver.com/koendict/#/main.

  1. Consonant at the bottom of a syllable

These consonants become pronounced as the consonant, ㄷ:

ㅅ, ㅆ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅌ, ㅎ

This makes these syllables possible to pronounce. Other consonants that can be pronounced as-is do not become pronounced as ㄷ: ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅂ, and ㅇ.

  1. Pronouncing ㄲ, ㅋ, and ㅍ

This makes these syllables possible to pronounce.

  1. Between two syllables
  1. Pronouncing ㅎ
  1. Pronouncing ㄹ



  1. Pronouncing ㅂ
  1. Pronouncing ㄱ
  1. Pronouncing ㄴ/ㅁ
  1. More ㄹ Changes Part 1
  1. More ㄹ Changes Part 2
  1. More ㄹ Changes Part 3
  1. More ㄹ Changes Part 4
  1. Using ㄷ and ㅌ

Hello and Goodbye (Episode 10)

In this episode, I learned a little history. Originally, Korea was one country but split after the Korean war. Both sides speak Korean, but differently.

Korean sentence structure is different than English. It’s subject, object, verb (SOV).

Korea also has a different perspective on your age. Everyone is born 1 year old (basically 1 indexed). Everyone gains 1 year of age on Jan 1. Birthdays are celebrated, but it doesn’t mean you gain a year in Korean age.

Introducing Yourself (Episode 11)

Bow slightly when meeting someone. The deeper the bow, the more respect is shown.

How to say “I am”

How to say “nice to meet you”

Saying Thanks/You’re Welcome (Episode 12)

Excuse Me (Episode 13)

To get a stranger’s attention (such as a waiter at a restaurant):

To apologize in advance for being impolite or interrupting someone, or at the start of a sentence:

To move past someone or a crowd:

Intro to Verbs (Episode 14)

Like English, Korean verbs will be conjugated when used in a sentence. Every Korean verb ends with 다 in its infinitive form. Also, Korean sentence structure is SOV (subject object verb). Here are some examples:

Unlike English, Korean verbs conjugate the same for different subject pronouns. So you conjugate things the same for ‘I’, ‘You’, ‘We’, and more. But, they obviously conjugate differently for different tenses. Let’s conjugate two verbs in the present tense:

I Want (Episode 15)

Note: this is only for if ‘I’ or ‘you’ want something. Billy also mentioned there’s a shortened way of saying these.

Wanting to do something

A verb stem is when we take an un-conjugated verb, and remove the 다 from the end.

To say that you ‘want to’ do a verb, attach 고 싶다 to the verb stem.

But, 싶다 is also a verb and you need to conjugate that too.

Wanting something

Noun + 을/를 가지고 싶다

The Object Marker (Episode 16)

The object marker always attaches directly after a noun (person/place/thing). It marks the object of an action verb. It shows who or what a verb is doing something to. We use the 을 object marker after consonant and the 를 object marker after a vowel.

The Topic Marker (Episode 17)

Before, we only really used it for 저는. 저 is a pronoun that means ‘I’ or ‘me.’ The topic marker literally marks the topic of the conversation.

It could be described as kind of like: “when it comes to X,” “on the topic of X,” or “as for X.”

Once the topic is set with the topic marker it’s not necessary to repeat it unless you want to change the topic.

This and That (Episode 18)

We previously learned about 이다 for introducing ourselves and that it’s the verb “to be.”

To say “this,” we say 이. This is an adjective and is used directly before a noun. We also use it to talk about objects close to the speaker.

How to say “that” we say 그. We’d use this whenever an object is closer to the listener not the speaker.

We can also say “that” with 저. We’d use this whenever an object is not close to the listener or the speaker.

For “this thing,” we can use 이것. The same rules apply. It’s a noun and can be used like one.

For “that thing,” we can use 그것. The same rules apply. It’s a noun and can be used like one.

To wrap things up, 이, 그, and 저 are adjectives - they must be used before a noun. 이갓, 그것, and 저것 are nous - they can be used on their own (such as w/ the topic marker or object marker). Also, when speaking these 3 can be shortened to 이거, 그거, 저거, but all work.

The Particle 도 (Episode 19)

We’ve already learned some particles before like the topic and object markers. 도 means “even,” “also,” or “too.” It can be added directly to any noun. It’s not used by itself.

When used after a noun 도 replaces any markers.

Introduction to Conjugation (Episode 20)

To use a Korean verb, you have to conjugate it from its infinitive form. All verbs end with 다. So for example, we learned these verbs:

Even though Korean verbs conjugate the same for different subject pronouns, we don’t get off scot-free. Korean has seven different speech levels! These levels are demonstrated in the verb endings. There are three speech levels that are used most often: formal speech, polite/standard speech, or casual/informal speech.

The above example conjugations are all in present tense informal form. As mentioned, there are 3 categories of formal, casual, and informal. To be technical, the are 7 politeness forms and also honorifics!


Although it was only 20 days of studying Korean, I sure learned a whole lot. Seoul was so cool and I’d definitely travel there again. Anyways, thank you for reading this life-related post about travel and language learning! Once I figure out setting up Cloudflare I’ll be creating a “Photos” section to my last couple posts (it’s updated now!). Hope to catch you in the next blog post!