Should I learn Korean language to have a Korean boyfriend?

Should I learn Korean language to have a Korean boyfriendWhy would you need to learn Korean language to have a Korean boyfriend? Well, according to a 2003 study, despite spending the most money on English education, Koreans score the lowest on English ability out of the 12 Asian nations that the research looked at. I’ve also come across claims that Korean guy you date will put pressure on you to learn Korean language.

Language barrier and cultural differences are supposed to be the most difficult part of dating a person from another country. In our case cultural differences don’t even compare to language barrier. Actually, we still have no idea what these “cultural differences” are even supposed to be. Sure, I chuck food all over the table (and floor) when I try to eat with chopsticks and he has the dexterity of a 2-year-old when cutting a piece of meat on his plate, but that doesn’t create problems in our relationship. If anything, it makes it even more fun.

To be honest, even the language barrier can be fun sometimes. I still chuckle thinking back to one of our first conversations, when we were still strangers trying to be as polite as possible, and Kimchi Man asked me: “Am I making you hard?” It took me only a moment to realize he meant “Am I making it difficult for you?” but I still laughed. Luckily he was a good sport about it. I make those kind of mistakes as well, but I just can’t remember any right now (Selective memory? :)) But you don’t need me to tell you, I’m sure while reading this you’ll spot quite a few mistakes yourself.

That’s all very cute, but a truly deep relationship needs truly deep conversations.

His native language is Korean. He speaks English well enough for me to understand him, better than most Koreans I’m sure, but he still feels the most comfortable using Korean. The speed and ease with which he talks to other Koreans can’t really compare to when he’s talking to me. I’m not a native English speaker either and it’s the same for me.
English being second language for both of us makes it at the same time easier and more difficult to communicate. If at least one of us was speaking our native language, it would eliminate half of the mistakes we make. On the other hand we are much more flexible in understanding what the other one is saying because we know what a struggle it is.

Should I learn Korean?

I don’t speak Korean and I’m really happy in our relationship. Despite all what I’ve said above, we do have deep conversations, it just takes a bit more effort. So far, in over two years, we’ve never gotten frustrated or impatient with each other.

So it all depends how well you and your guy speak English (or another common language).

If you’re going to live in Korea then yes, without a doubt, you should learn Korean. And make sure you start by learning Hangul.

If you’re not going to live in Korea then it’s up to you. Being able to talk to his family, watch movies and dramas, and understand everything I come across online – from news videos to shopping sites – is really exciting prospect for me. If you feel the same way, then, by all means, go for it. But if you don’t feel enthusiastic you have little chances of succeeding.

Will my boyfriend expect me to learn Korean?

He might, but Kimchi Man doesn’t care if I learn Korean language or not. I decided by myself to learn it, because I’m planning to move to Korea someday, and because I’m excited about the possibility of talking directly to those Koreans that now I need Kimchi Man’s help to translate. When I tell him this, he says: “Forget about it and tell them to learn English.” Haha, poor Koreans with my Kimchi Man.

Will my boyfriend help me learn Korean?

I came across another blog that shared tips about dating Korean men and it mentioned Korean guy will not be your tutor and he will expect you to study hard and learn Korean on your own. I couldn’t disagree with this more. That may be her experience with her boyfriend, but certainly not every Korean guy is like that.

Help me learn KoreanJust because Kimchi Man doesn’t have a wish for me to learn Korean, doesn’t mean he’s not supportive or that he doesn’t want to help me learn Korean. He knows it’s my wish. A beautiful textbook for learning Korean arrived with the first package he ever sent me, and as soon as I mentioned that I was curious about a particular grammar book he bought it for me as well. He also surprised me with adorable workbook for practicing Hangul handwriting because he knows how frustrated I am with my horrible Korean handwriting. I also got pens for Hangul calligraphy (that I still have no idea how to use, help!).

Kimchi Man is always ready to patiently answer my, mostly silly, questions. So far I have made him record himself pronouncing Korean alphabet, his own name, places where he has lived, explain every little Korean pronunciation rule, find reading materials… He even wrote a program that automatically pulls translations from multiple online dictionaries so I wouldn’t have to copy-paste!

With my own wish to learn and his support, I’m really looking forward to mastering the language and seeing how learning Korean might change our interactions. I will surely share it with you all. Unfortunately, due to some neurological issues, I am a really slow learner. In two years I’ve learned maybe hundred words so far, so don’t hold your breath.

– Oegukeen




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25 thoughts on “Should I learn Korean language to have a Korean boyfriend?

  1. 대박! he wrote a program that pulls translations from multiple online dictionaries?! will you be sharing that program anytime soon?? and~ just just out of curiosity~ what is your native language? ^^

    • If enough people are interested we might make the effort to share it. I haven’t thought of it before.

      I’m trying to keep information of my country private. It’s not a big secret, but I feel it’s better if this blog is more universal – for all non-Korean women :) However, I am European, and my native language is not English, so there are finite number of options. I hope that information is not too important to you.

      • Hello!
        May I ask where do you come from? As you are from an European country and English is not your native language. Im interested in the Korean culture and started learning the language on my own, one day would like to visit Korea and maybe have a Korean boyfriend / husband. Wish you happy New Year!
        Hungarian girl (

  2. Great post as always! I definitely agree with you that it depends on the guy as to whether he’ll help you learn Korean. When I was living in Korea my boyfriend at the time was very encouraging… maybe too much as he was always saying how cute I sounded when I spoke Korean :) It was sweet and helped me feel comfortable as I was learning Korean but he never wanted to correct me :P My female Korean friends always seemed more comfortable correcting me.

    • Thank you so much.

      I am not at the point yet where I can attempt to talk to Kimchi Man, but when I do, I already decided to convince him to correct me. I know it will be awkward for him, but I think it’s really important.

      We don’t correct each other with English, though. It would probably be annoying to interrupt every conversation. :)

      • Hello!
        May I ask where do you come from? As you are from an European country and English is not your native language. Im interested in the Korean culture and started learning the language on my own, one day would like to visit Korea and maybe have a Korean boyfriend / husband. Wish you happy New Year!
        Hungarian girl (

    • You can search any Korean online store for 붓펜, or if you want a thicker one for 붓펜드로잉. I have pens from two different companies called 모나미 and 문화, but I believe 모닝글로리 also makes them. Do you know how to use them? I tried looking for Hangul calligraphy tutorial online but couldn’t find any.

      He gave me permission to share the program but I need to figure out how to share it. It might take a few days (or more :P )

  3. I have a friend (Filipina) who claims her Korean husband doesn’t want to teach him Korean. I have another Filipina friend who’s Korean boyfriend always urge me to teach his girlfriend Korean but never exert any effort in teacher his girlfriend. My Korean crush doesn’t voluntary teach me but he is always the first to answer my unending questions about Korean. I agree that it really depends on both parties and whether or not the couples feel/see the need for it. :)

  4. I got a korean friend from Interpals (YAY! Thanks to you ^^) Good thing she spoke english very well since she’s been to Australia for studying. I asked her some korean words and meanings and she seemed happy to help me :D Maybe my korean is better now? I don’t know haha I rarely talk with her in korean, mostly in english. I only do aegyo stuffs or short answers stuffs LOL (fail)

  5. I’m glad i came across your post, started learning Korean- fine it interesting the numbers are easiest, can write most hangul – now to learn pronounciation and meaning.

    • I still mix up numbers. I’m never sure which ones to use – Sino-Korean or Native Korean. There’s a long way ahead of us, but it’s really fun to learn, don’t you think? :)

  6. I decided to start learning Korean and I love it! It’s very different to the other subjects I’ve been studying for my job so I think that’s why I like it! I also learnt a European language at school and this was my favourite subject so it’s nice to study a language again! I really like the lessons on this website: but I think I have learnt the most from attending a Korean class one evening a week.
    Good luck to everyone learning Korean! :)

  7. 안녕…Thank you for that. I totally enjoyed reading it. I am not a native english speaker either, but I studied English Lit. I’ve been learning Hangul on my own for about a year now, and so far I’ve learned how to write and type and probably more than a hundred words..I’d like to move to Korea some day. I am very interested in the culture, and all cultures that are different than mine.
    I am very happy for you and Kimchi man (cute name), but I read on different blogs that Korean men usually prefer to date or marry only Korean women because that’s usually what their moms expect: is that true? Is there a certain reason for that, if true? Do they have specific expectation from women they date or marry, like their looks or whatever? And also, what do you do in Korea exactly? I’d like to study my options before I move there.

    • I’m glad to hear that :)

      Well, I can’t think of any country where people marry more foreigners than each other. Can you? :)

      My experience was that, while Kimchi Man is very respectful of his parents, he doesn’t feel the need to do things their way. I’ve never seen his parents try to pressure him with his life choices. They don’t care if I am foreigner or not. Of course, everyone is going to have a different experience and what kind of experience you have will depend on what kind of guy you choose, not whether he is Korean or not.

      I’ve never been to Korea. When Kimchi Man and I lived together he moved in with me in Europe.

  8. Oh! So you don’t live in Korea? I was under the impression you two lived in a city other than Seoul in Korea…However did I come to that conclusion?
    It is true, though, that people marry more into their own cultures: I never looked at it that way. It isn’t easy to date people of your own culture, let alone a completely different one.
    Thank you for replying…Cool blog :)

    • I don’t live there, I’ve never even been there.

      I’m curious where you got that as well. Many people seem to be confused, thinking that we’re living in Korea and are married. I wonder who we’re getting mixed up with :)

      Easy is a relative thing. I think being with someone you love and who is a good match for you is the easiest thing to do, regardless which culture they’re coming from. Don’t let that discourage you.

      And thank you.

  9. Pingback: 韓国人男性や女性とおつきあいするために韓国語は学ぶべきか?

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