Elementary Korean

by:  Ross King and Jae Hoon Yeon

I at least have 2 dictionaries and 2 phrasebooks when I decided to buy this textbook.  It just took me an hour to learn Hangul Characters and this gave me the will power to go on with the rest of my journey.  Since the beginning, I knew that reading just phrasebooks will not really help me get the comprehension that I desire.  In fact, I have been reading these phrasebooks to get an idea on sentence construction.  In searching for a book to invest on, I have these criteria on my mind:

  • It should provide a structured approach in explaining the language
  • It should help me understand Korean grammar and sentence construction
  • It should be in English and should relate it to how English is taught

Having this in mind I searched on the internet for a Korean Language Books, there were a lot but one book stood out in terms of user reviews.  These reviews came from English speakers as well who were doing self study.  While there are websites that gives structured approach in learning Korean like the one from Sogang University, I thought it would be practical to have a book which you can reference back anytime you want and this is what Elementary Korean allowed me to do.


The book is priced at 117SGD or around 77USD. [Edit: There is an updated version of this book, a newer edition]  It’s a bit pricey but I believe it’s worth the investment specially if you can’t attend a regular language class.  It is suitable for Korean Language enthusiasts who take learning seriously at his own pace and timing.

The first few chapters of the book explain Hangul characters including writing and pronunciation rules.  It also provided clear explanation on the use of words which made me understand why the dictionary form cannot be used.  As in learning English, the book deals with the basic questions in my mind like word formation, parts of speech, grammar, and sentence construction.  I love that it always relate to English and also explain when there is no counter English expression or use for certain lessons.  While it was very helpful to relate it in English, I also learned not to overly compare it with English as it sometimes confuses me.  The particles and word forms when English counterpart is provided simply gives the closest meaning or idea in the English Language.

The book made use of some terms which you cannot find in the English Language textbooks.  This will serve as guide in succeeding lessons as it may be mentioned.  I specifically appreciated the evolution of words and how the other forms can be derived out from the base word and infinitive form.  The lesson on this is very important because the succeeding lessons capitalize on your knowledge of the base and infinitive form to progress in other word forms.

The book covered the basic tenses such as present, past and future in Korean expressions. By the time I finished reading the book I am able to perform basic to somehow complex (two clauses involved) sentences similar to the following English sentence constructions:

  • This is…
  • The <subject> is <verb>
  • <Clause 1> but <clause 2>
  • <Clause 1> and <clause 2>

Overall, Elementary Korean answers you expectations on learning the basics in a very structured and progression done is a very strategic manner.  I have read the book for almost 1 and ½ years.  I read it at my own pace so it’s worth the investment.  By the time I decided to enter a formal class, I am a little more confident and feel that what I learned from reading are confirmed.

Fast Facts about this book:

  • This book is inpired by Beginning Korean which was authored by Samuel Martin and Young Sook Lee.
  • Author Ross King is an Associate Professor of Korean at the University of British Columbia.   He completed his B.A. Linguistics at Yale and Doctorate at Harvard.
  • Co-Author Jae Hoon Yeon is a lecturer in Korean at the Centre of Korean Studies at the University of London. He completed his M.A. in Linguistics at he Seou National University and Doctorate at the University of London.
  • It’s one of the best selling Korean Language Book in Amazon.

48 Replies to “Elementary Korean”

      1. try googling it. i saw one PDF before although it wasn’t complete but i t has most of the chapters.

  1. i think so one of my friends donwloaded one but it’s not complete.. i think there were portions removed when he compared it with the book content. i prefer the book though because i can’t stand just reading through the computer.

  2. hey. this is my first time at your site, and am looking into studying/learning at least some conversational korean. I thought maybe i would start with this book “Elementary Korean”.
    I know its not released yet, but theres a 2nd edition that will be out May this year. Its less pages tho (although more isnt always better), and its only by Ross King this time.
    also did you find the CD w/ this book helpful? (ie. what was on it? ..pronounciations?) – – – thanks in advance!

    1. Are you referring to Continuing Korean? It’s already out still with Ross King Jae Hoon. It’s actually advance, a sequel to Elementary Korean if you have read it. It’s deals with more complex sentences and Korean word structure.

      1. Yes, I guess s/he is really referring to a SECOND edition. Cos I have one. I want to buy the sequel volume soon.

  3. no it wasnt continuing korean. i think it was either indigo or amazon that i saw the 2nd edition to “elementary korean” with only Ross King.
    i guess if no one’s used the 2nd edition (prob b/c it isnt out and the format might be different) if the 1st edition works, i guess i’ll jst stick to it.

  4. oops .. hehe ..

    anyways for those in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia , u can find this book@Kinokuniya KLCC. Price RM245.

    definitely will get it, next trip back to KL ..

  5. i searched for that book and author through the net and found a book with a different cover. it has the same title though. when i looked into it it has 3 authors.. Ross King, Jae-Hoon Yeon, Jae-Hoon Lee… did you just somehow miss Jae-Hoon Lee or it’s really a different book then?
    does your book also come with the audio cd? 🙂

  6. .hello..:) it’s my 2nd time to right here..may i know where i can buy this book? tnx..:) nice website by the way..:) really helpful..:)

    1. you can buy both books Elementary Korean and Continuing Korean at Fully Booked or Powerbooks. You can also buy them on-line via amazon but it will be more expensive due to shipping.

      1. Yes its available at Fully Booked , I also saw one in Power Books in Greenbelt.

  7. Hiya! I’ve bought the second edition of Elementary Korean because of your rec and I like it very much, thanks. I had thought long and hard about which textbook to buy and I had to discard pretty much all the others as they didn’t have the answer keys, which are an absolute must for me (I’m self-learning and while yes, I could’ve inferred the answers from the textbook, I have a short attention span and it’s so much easier and faster with the keys, most esp as learning korean is already difficult as it is,why make it even more difficult?).

    Anyway, thanks again. It’s really a good book.

  8. Hey..

    I really like wad you have done.. and i totally agree with this book.. I had a very difficult time learning the language with most textbooks.. including routledge which focuses more on business people i guess.. it didn’t really help in my understanding of the grammar of korean at all.. but the elementary korean was more thorough and concise. I’m thinking of continuing on these series. Should I? Since the first was was awesome for me.


  9. Hi again. You mentioned that the books are available at Fully Booked, Rockwell branch; do you happen to remember the price of each book? I need to know the price since I cannot go there personally to check the books on shelf. If they’re too pricey (you said it costs around 77USD), I guess I will just stick to photocopied books at the Shopping Center, hehe. I hope I’m not asking you too much. ‘^^


  10. Hello!

    I think this book is really good because I’ve seen a lot recommending this. But my problem is, I couldn’t find this edition in bookstores anymore. 😦 I’m too late, coz what’s available is the 2nd edition already. I’m still thinking if I’ll purchase that because it has less pages. I want this edition because I believe that the more pages, the more information I can get. *sigh* It’s cheaper now though, coz it costs 1480PHP I think? But still! I want this edition! AAAAAAH!

    I’m thinking of buying this edition online, but I haven’t really done any transactions before so I’m still in doubt and worried, especially about the custom fees and all those stuff. 😐

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts anyway. 🙂

      1. I bought mine at Fully Booked in Gateway. I would like to ask if I can ask them to find the sequel volume for me?

      2. You mean the Continuing Korean? I saw it from Power Books in Rockwell but that was a long time ago.

  11. Can somebody tell me where can I buy this book in Dubai?
    Can’t wait to learn Korean lang…
    It’s been a while since I’m browsing the net for some korean lessons and it’s totally fun…

    Im so duper interested to learn this language… can somebody help me pls…


  12. hi, just out of curiosity have you finish reading the whole book? I bought it a month ago, and now i think i’m somewhere around chap 5-6.. it is seriously thick! haha. I do get discourage sometimes cuz I tend to forget things that I’ve learned.

    1. yup i am done reading elementary korean. i am currently taking time to read continuing korean which actuall ysecond book. i have slowed down on reading as my work gets demanding. i sometimes ‘review’ portion of elementary korean so i get refreshed on the lessons.

  13. I am thinking about getting this book for myself. I am currently using Rosetta Stone, but I think it would be helpful to have something where there is, for lack of a better way to say it, an English person teaching me this. What do you think?

    1. the book is easy to understand actually. i am assuming you have english subjects so you will be able to relate.

  14. Thanks, Janey!

    After finding your recommendation and browsing through the book content via books.google.com, I’ve recently purchased Elementary Korean from amazon.com. It’s definitely worth $48.97 to have this detailed book with an audio CD.

    I had returned “Basic Korean: A Grammar and Workbook” (248 pages without an audio CD) by Andrew Sangpil Byon, which I had ordered prior to finding your blog.

  15. You can also purchase the Seoul National University Hangukeo (Korean) book levels 1 – 4 too.

    check this site:


    They also have dictionaries.

    For the dictionary, I can recommend Essence Korean-English dictionary. I am currently using the pocket version of that. There are also second hand bookstores in South Korea where they sell the books 25-70% off.

  16. For those who lived in the Philippines, I can recommend my Jerome Seonsaengnim.

    He is a Filipino and he lived in Seoul for 8 years. He is currently giving Korean Class to the KLT examiners.

    He has his facebook account. Just check his profile there.

    Jerome Francisco Tiglao

    For Korean Language Institutes (Hangukeo Hagwon), Korean Embassy already established an institute. It’s KCCPhil (Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines) which is located at Bonifacio City, Taguig. Here is their website.


    And the other one is KLC (Korean Language Culture Training Center) which is located in Guadalupe, Makati City.

    1. thanks i will check that out. i am actually looking for a tutor as it is hard for me to take formal classes since i am working every weekdays.

  17. Hi! This is out of the blue but– can I enroll in Elementary Korean Class even though I haven’t taken the basic yet? The Basic Korean class was already full in KCC. I’m already familiar with the letters and I can read a little (but I won’t know the meaning). I hope you can reply. Thank you! 🙂

  18. Hi! This is out of the blue but– can I enroll in Elementary Korean Class even though I haven’t taken the basic yet? The Basic Korean class was already full in KCC. I’m already familiar with the letters and I can read a little (but I won’t know the meaning). I hope you can reply. Thank you! 🙂

    1. I am not sure with the in UP they gauge if you can be enrolled in next course. I am also not familiar with the course outline in KCC better as the center 🙂

      1. thank you for your reply! ^^,

        I already asked the center (KCC) and they said it’s okay to take Elementary (without taking the basic) but they recommend to take the basic first (preferably). Also, my friend told me there would be an examination to know what’s my level on elementary Korean. So I decided to just wait so I can enroll in basic class.. The next term would be on Jan. 2015. Rawr- so looong

        Anyway, I really like your blog! It’s very helpful.. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: