Reading is probably one of my favourite things to do in the world, and I try to read something in my target languages everyday, whether it’s an article, a chapter of my favourite webtoon, or if I happen to have a lot of free time that day, a book. It used to be a lot harder to find reading materials in Korean, but it’s 2020 and these days you can pretty much find anything you need on the internet.
Unless it’s Korean books – but we’ll get to that later.
You would probably need to be at least upper intermediate to make the most out of the resources listed in this article, but don’t let that hold you back from experimenting with them. You’ll never know!
My Daily Reading Fix
This site is to me what newspaper used to be to my dad at breakfast. In fact, I think that’s probably why they named it Brunch.
It reminds me of Medium, in that it offers articles on a wide array of topics, from arts, culture and history to travel and food, and that the articles are generally high-quality, which is probably due to there being some measure of quality control in place – you have to apply to become one of their writers, in order to post an article there.
They also offer ‘brunch books‘, which are basically collections of articles that conform to a single narrative or theme – a series of travel logs, a story told in several chapters, a collection of articles on human psychology, etc. Every year they hold a competition where they choose the best ones to be printed and sold as physical books.
I think above all, what I really enjoy is the vibe of the site. It feels like a community of writers. On the page for submitting applications (to become a brunch writer), it says ‘누구나 쓸 수 있다’ (anyone can write), and it really feels like that’s what they strive to be – a platform for people who love to write.
For Reviews, and When I’m Looking for Something Specific
네이버 블로그: https://section.blog.naver.com/
Unlike brunch, anyone (literally) can post an article on Naver Blog. All you need is a Naver account, which takes less than a minute to make. This means you might have to try a little harder to seek out the high-quality content.
A quick way to do this is by checking out the best-performing blogs of the month (click on 이달의 블로그 in the navigation bar) and start from there. The blogs are sorted into 6 categories – arts and design, media, lifestyle (where people share thoughts and accounts of what goes on in their daily life), ‘good writing’ (covers anything from reflections on current issues to poetry and self-help articles), health & medicine, and travel.
While I’m sure there are a lot of blogs worth following there, I generally use the site for when I’m looking for something specific, like what Koreans think about veganism, their opinions on the last Avengers movie, French learning resources for Koreans, or mental health awareness in Korea – because if something exists in Korean, you can probably find it on Naver.
It’s also really good for reviews. I like looking up reviews of books and movies that I enjoy, for example, just to see them described and analysed from a Korean perspective. It’s also a great way to discover new ways to talk about the books and movies I love.
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer – I’m sure every Korean learner goes to Naver for webtoons. I mostly use it for light reading nowadays, but when I was still an intermediate learner I found it very useful for picking up relatively high-frequency vocabulary for everyday conversations and understanding k-drama, mostly due to the dialogue-heavy nature of webtoons.
To start, you can click on 장르별 (by genre) in the navigation bar at the top of the page, which displays the ongoing webtoons by their genre – slice of life, fantasy, action, drama, etc. Pick your poison.
Note that webtoons are often only free to read while they’re still ongoing. Many of the completed ones have to be paid for chapter-by-chapter via Naver Webtoon’s virtual currency, 쿠키 (cookie), which can be purchased using Paypal (your only option, unless you live in Korea). Each chapter costs about $0.17.
You can still read the first few chapters for free, though, before deciding whether or not to buy the rest of the webtoon.
If you ever tried to buy a Korean book, you’d know how hard it is for people who live outside of Korea. Most of the Korean sites that sell books make it impossible for you to make payments unless you live there, and the few options available (Amazon, twoChois, Gmarket, etc) charge so much for the shipping that the shipping fee often costs more than the books itself.
That being said, I did find a couple of alternatives – variety’s still a problem because most of them only offer the bestsellers, which, depending on your tastes in book, may or may not be a good thing, but still, it’s something:
Life Pattern Korea
Click here to visit the store.
If you live in Malaysia, you’re probably going to love this store on Shopee. It offers some of the bestselling books in Korea (mostly self-help books and books that were featured in k-drama), as well as some of the TTMIK books.
The books are on the pricey side (RM60 – RM100++), but the shipping is really, really cheap (RM4). If you want those books, this store is probably the most affordable option you’re going to find out there.
Unfortunately, as of now, the variety of books they offer is still rather limited. I’m not a huge fan of self-help books, but I did buy the picture books that were featured in It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (사이코지만 괜찮아) from them – everywhere else was crazy expensive because of the shipping.
Click here to visit the store.
If you understand Mandarin Chinese, I would recommend this store on Taobao. I still find it lacking in the variety department, but it’s a lot more than what Life Pattern Korea currently offers. It’s also slightly cheaper (a RM10-20 difference for the most part).
Google Play Books
Click here to go to Google Play Books.
Even ebooks are hard to get – fortunately, all is not lost, thanks to Google Play Books. It doesn’t have everything on my to-read list, but it does offer a nice selection of novels. They’re also cheaper than physical books. I have a kindle, so for now, this is my primary means of acquiring Korean books.
I hope you find this list helpful, and i wish you the best of luck for your Korean book hunt (trust me, you’re going to need it).
Happy reading (and hunting)!