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Most expats in Korea have had the grand idea of learning the local language when they arrive, or at least picking up enough phrases to get by.

But at some point, we may come to feel something along the lines of what John Huer wrote in a recent editorial in the Korea Times (“Why Is Korea So Strange?” Jan 30th):

“Linguists and anthropologists the world over routinely list the Korean Language as one of the most difficult languages, if not the most difficult, to learn. . . as a blessing, the language has protected Korea’s identity like a secret code.”

Koreans themselves are openly shocked to see foreigners who can stumble through a basic greeting. It is tempting to think of it as impenetrable, perversely complicated, and perhaps impossible.

Also check out our Favourite Korean Learning Apps 

The truth, however, is that Korean may not be as difficult as you’ve been thinking. First of all, the writing system, although completely new to you, is surprisingly easy to learn. It is phonetic and has only 24 basic characters. And Koreans themselves are possibly some of the most gracious listeners on the planet.

Even the slightest effort at using their language will result in either profuse compliments at your superb Korean, or guttural laughter at how you used that expression so well and so unexpectedly. (Granted, there may be occasional laughter if you use it wrong, too.) Koreans are also enthusiastic about teaching their language, which is why there are so many wonderful places to get Korean lessons for free all over this country.

Presuming that you don’t live in the middle of nowhere, you ought to be able to find something appropriate from the massive list of Korean language exchange clubs, free classes, cheap classes, not-so-cheap classes, and immersion programs you’ll find below.

And even if you can’t find anything nearby, get creative. Call or visit the nearest university, local churches, the YMCA, the city office, and community centers and ask about Korean classes. Often they will simply arrange volunteers to teach you regardless of whether there are already organized classes going on.

Finally, check out the list of Korean language resources at the end of the article to find ways to carry on your studies by yourself. Whether through a class, a book, or a website, you can take the first step on your Korean journey today.

Korean Classes In Seoul

Language Exchanges

Myeongdong Language Exchange Group

Location: Outside exit 5 at Myeongdong Station (line 4) in central Seoul
Time: every Sunday from 5 pm – 7 pm
Cost: none (except for the coffee)
cafe.naver.com/korean05exchange.cafe

ILuvKorea Language Exchange

Location: Near Sinchon Station (line 2), exit 7, across from Sinchon Yonsei Hospital
Time: Sat 3 pm – 6 pm, Sun 2 pm – 5 pm
Cost: language exchange is free, but not the party
iluvkorea.ning.com, 010-8722-4243

Hana Republic

Location: Near Sinchon Station (line 2), exit 3.
Time: Friday 7:30 pm – 10 pm
Cost: W10,000 (includes drinks and food)
[email protected], 010-9327-1251

(Almost) Free Korean Classes

OEM (Onnuri English Ministry’s) Korean Class

Location: Between Sobinggeo Station (central line) and Ichon Station (line 4).
Time: Saturdays from 11 am – 1 pm
Cost: W30,000 per semester; students buy their own books
Extra: your tuition goes to cover the cost of some great snacks
onnurikoreanclass.cyworld.com, 02-3245-3686

Sookmyung Korean Education Volunteers

Location: Sookmyung Women’s University campus, Sookmyung Women’s University Station (line 4)
Time: 3 – 5 pm each Saturday
Cost: W1,000 per class
Extra: cultural activities several times a year, overnight trip once a year
Contact: facebook group, 010-4320-0905

Korean Class at the Galwol Community Welfare Center

Location: near Sookmyung Women’s University Station (line 4), exit 2
Time: 4:30 pm – 5 pm each Saturday
Cost: W1,000 (recommended donation)
Extra: after class, teachers and students usually go out for dinner and drinks
kongbubang.wordpress.com, 010-6807-8985

Hannam/Itaewon Global Village Center

Location: Itaewon Station (line 6), exit 2
global.seoul.go.kr, 02-1688-0120,

Free Classes at Korea Cultural Foundation

Location: City Hall Station (line 1 and 2), exit 9
kfcenter.or.kr/english/intro/05.asp , 02-3789-5600

Korean Language Institutes

Ganada Korean Language Institute

Small class sizes make this a pricier option per hour than other language programs.
Location: Hongik University Station (line 2)
Time: three hours in the morning, four days a week
Students: 7-11 per class
Cost: W370,000 per month (48 class hours)
ganadakorean.com, 02-332-6003

Language Teaching Research Center

Location: Near Gwanghwamun Station (line 5), exit 6, behind the Koreana Hotel
Time: two hours a day, twice a week in the afternoon or evening
Students: 3-6 per class
Cost: afternoon/evening classes are W256,000/W384,000 per semester (thirty-two hours class hours)
Extra: no matter how tight your schedule is, this institute probably has a class or tutor for you
ltrc.co.kr, 02-735-0039

InterCultural Communications

Arranges private lessons exclusively with highly qualified Korean teachers. Great for customized classes and odd study hours but not cheap.
02-512-8443

Seoul Korean Language Academy

Location: Gangnam Station (line 2), exit 7
seoul-kla.com/engl, 02-563-3226

Central Language Institute

Location: Gangnam Station (line 2), exit 6
clistudy.co.kr, 02-556-9944

Metro Korean Academy

Location: downtown near Gwanghwamun Station (line 5), exit 7.
mka.kr, [email protected], 02-725-5030

LMC Language Center

Location: Ilsan in Goyang City, northwest of Seoul
lmclc.com, 031-921-1217

University Language Programs

Yonsei University Korean Language Institute

Time: 9 am – 1 pm, 5 days a week
Students: around 13 per class
Cost: W1,554,000 per semester
Extra: evening classes, short term classes, and other programs are also available
yskli.com/index.asp, 02-2123-8550

Sogang University Korean Language Education Center

Location: between Sinchon Station (line 2) and Daeheung Station (line 6)
Time: 9 am – 1 pm, 5 days a week
Students: around 12 per class
Semester: the summer semester is Jun 1st – Aug 14th
Cost: W1,535,000 per semester (including registration and material fees)
Extra: evening classes (6:50 pm – 8:40 pm) run three days a week
klec.sogang.ac.kr, 02-705-8088

Seoul National University Language Education Institute

Location: Seoul National University Station (line 2)
language.snu.ac.kr/english, [email protected], 02-880-5488

Ewha Women’s University Institute of Language Education

Location: Ewha University Station (line 2)
Extra: guys are welcome in the language lab, if not in the undergrad program
[email protected], 02-3277-3682

Sookmyung Women’s University’s LinguaExpress

Location: Sookmyung Women’s University Station (line 4)
Extra: this is also the location of a free Saturday class mentioned above
lingua-express.com, 02-710-9165~6,

Korea University Korean Language and Cultural Center

Location: Korea University Station (line 6)
kola.x-y.net/english/index.html, 02-3290-1455

Korean Classes In Busan

(Almost) Free Korean Classes

Busan Foundation for International Activities (BFIA)

Location: Dangseo University Continuing Education Institution outside Yangjeong Station, exit 2
Time: weekday mornings
Students: 15 students per class
Extra: as class space is limited, don’t wait to sign up
bfia.or.kr/english/index.html, 051-888-6651

Korean Language Institutes

KLIFF: Korean Language Institute For Foreigners
Location: Haeundae and PNU (Pusan National University)
Time: weekday and weekend classes available
Students: 4-7 per class
Cost: around W10,000 per hour, depending on class size
Extra: students include Chinese and Japanese as well as Westerners
kliff.co.kr, 051-513-0131

University Language Programs

Pusan National University: Institute of International Language Education

Time: 5 days a week, 9 am – 12:50 pm
Students: around 17 students per class
Semester: summer semester runs from Jun 2nd to Aug 8th, register by May 28th
Cost: W1,400,000 per 10 week semester
Extra: private and small group classes are available upon demand
international.pusan.ac.kr/new/english/sub/s4.asp, 051-510-1984

Korean Classes In Daegu

Language Exchanges

Daegu Friendship Club

This club organizes occasional language exchanges, often advertised on its facebook page. [email protected]

Hami Mamiâ’s at Club That

Hami Mami’s, on the 1st floor of Club That in downtown Daegu, has recently been promoting language exchanges, sometimes on Wednesdays and sometimes on the weekends.
[email protected], 011-815-8169

Discount Korean Classes

YMCA Classes

Location: go north from Banwoldang Station, exit 14, and it’s on the left
Time: Sat 11 am – 1 pm, Tue 10:30 am – 11:20 am, Mon and Wed 7 pm –  8:30 pm
Cost: weekday/weekend W150,000/W100,000 (not including textbook)
Extra: private tutoring and make up classes available
blog.naver.com/ymcatg, 053-255-0218

University Language Programs

Kyungpook University Korean Language Program

Time: 9 am –  1 pm, five days a week
Students: 15 per class
Semester: 10 weeks, summer semester goes from Jun 1st – Aug 8th (apply by Mar 27th)
Cost: W1,200,000 a semester
Extra: scholarships are available for top achievers in class
wcms.knu.ac.kr:8080/interEng/index.jsp, 053-950-6738

Daegu University Korean Language Program

If finances are the deciding factor, check out the classes at Daegu University, the cheapest immersion program around.
Time: 9:10 am – 1 pm.
Students: 13-15 per class
Levels: 6
Cost: W950,000 per 10 week semester (including admission fee)
Extra: the three week course costs W425,000 (including admission fee)
kcms.daegu.ac.kr/user/diaenglish/, 053-850-5686

Korean Classes In Daejeon

(Almost) Free Korean Classes

Daejeon International Community Center

Along with counseling, culture classes, and a lounge, the DICC has been offering free Korean classes to foreigners residing in Daejeon.
Location: the DICC outside of Daejeon Station, exit 2
Time: weekdays and weekends, time varies by level
Cost: free (textbook not included)
dicc.or.kr/dicc/eng_index.htm, 042-223-0789

Sky’s Korean Classes

Location: Tanbang-dong
facebook group, 010-4428-8822

University Language Programs

Chungnam University Korean Language Program

Location: near Daejeon World Cup Stadium
plus.cnu.ac.kr/english/index.jsp, 042-821-5013

Korean Classes In Gwangju

Discount Korean Classes

Gwangju International Center

Time: weekdays and weekends
Semester: two classes per week, seven weeks
Cost: W10,000 membership fee, W50,000/W80,000 per semester of weekend/weekday classes
gwangjuic.or.kr, 062-226-1050

University Language Programs

Chonnam National University Language Education Center

Location: close to Gwangju Station
language.jnu.ac.kr/cnu_lec_eng/main/mainFrame.asp , 062-530-3648

Korean Classes at Chosun University

Location: Near Dong-Gu District Office
eng.chosun.ac.kr, 062-230-7114

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