Reading webtoons has to be one of my favourite ways to study Korean, and I mostly use them for light reading alongside heavier, more advanced novels. The vocabulary you get out of them is very different from that you would expect from a novel, though, because unlike novels, comics do not rely on lengthy descriptions to establish settings and describe actions. It’s also more dialogue-driven. As such, you’ll end up learning words and phrases that people actually use in daily conversations. You’ll probably pick up some slangs, too.

The pictures also provide contextual clues, which will help you decipher at least half of what is being said, even when there are a lot of words you don’t know. So if you’re looking for something fun (and lighter than a novel) to practice reading comprehension with, webtoons should be perfect for you.

There are several sites you can go to for webtoons, but my favourite so far is Naver Webtoon. The interface is easy to navigate, and you can download the comics for offline viewing!

The webtoons I’ll be recommending are best suited for intermediate learners. I had just finished the Level 5 lessons on Talk to Me in Korean and Unit 3 on How to Study Korean when I first started reading these, and while I did find some parts challenging (mostly the vocabulary), I managed to understand most of the content without too much trouble.

If you’re a beginner, I highly recommend Penguin Loves Mev, which you can find here on Talk to Me in Korean’s online bookstore. It comes with English translations!

Without further ado, let’s jump right to the list!

#1: Tales of the Unusual

Click here to check it out.

While it says on the homepage that it is a thriller webtoon, the actual content is not that scary. It’s a series that features short stories with supernatural or mild horror elements, each of them no more than 5-6 chapters long. The stories range from mildly disturbing to downright heart-warming (I actually cried over one of them).

The main reason why I decided to name it the #1 is this: there’s a nice balance of vocabulary in the dialogues. It does contain some slang-y words, but not too many that it becomes hard to understand (and we all know how unreliable dictionaries can be sometimes when it comes to slangs). The characters are also very diverse in the way they speak and the words they use – you have characters that prefer to keep things simple and straightforward, and you have those who like to pepper their sentences with slightly fancier, more formal-sounding words.

On top of that, there are English and Chinese translations available, which can be helpful when you’re lost.

#2: University Diary

Click here to check it out.

University Diary is a slice-of-life comic strip where the author shares stories from his everyday life. As its title suggests, most of it revolves around his life at university. If you’re looking for something simple and fun, you should definitely give this a go.

The dialogues are very casual and written almost entirely in 반말 (informal speech). You’ll get to see how young adults (mostly guys) talk among their peers and close friends, which is not something you get to see a lot of in Korean drama or variety shows.

#3: Essays from A Corner in My Room

Click here to check it out.

This is probably my favourite webtoon on the list. It’s actually more like a series of illustrated essays than a regular webtoon, and the author writes really well. Last month, he released an episode called ‘할머니 집’, which talked about his memories of his grandmother, whom he lived with for a period of time when he was young. I still think about it a lot.

The vocabulary isn’t too difficult – I currently use it in class for one of my students, who I would say is at B1. The only tricky part is that some of the older characters (mostly his parents and grandparents) speak in 사투리, but you still have the narrator bits to help you out, so it probably won’t be too much of a problem.

I hope you found this article helpful. Happy learning (and reading)!

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