*Updated in August 2021

It really is a blessing to be learning languages in 2020. There are interesting, entertaining videos in all sorts of languages on Youtube, and never has it been this easy to access native content in our target languages. The tricky part is finding the ones that suit our needs, which are always evolving as we improve.

The list below is by no means exhaustive. I have chosen to include only channels that, in my experience, have contributed to my studies in a significant way. There are plenty of channels that I watch for fun but aren’t really suitable for the purpose of studying. They are also influenced by my own interests and hobbies, which might be very different from yours.

I will be introducing them by categories and rating them in terms of difficulty. Generally, channels with no subtitles will be rated advanced, while those rated intermediate will always come with subs (at the very least Korean ones).

Vlogs

There’s a format that’s trending among Korean vlogs these days: beautifully edited montages with captions, but no voiceovers. You don’t even see the face of the vlogger in most cases. Since they don’t speak, you don’t really get any listening practice out of it. But some of them have really good captions that read like something out of an essay, so you can think of them as reading practice, with beautifully shot videos on the side. These are my favourite ones so far:

해그린달

Difficulty: Upper Intermediate
Her videos are always pensive in tone and beautifully captioned, with stunning aesthetics. I find them very soothing (they make for great ASMR) and I usually watch them before bed.

Sueddu

Difficulty: Intermediate to Upper Intermediate
Similar to 해그린달, but slightly different in terms of tone. Personally, hers feel more like a journal entry in the form of a video (which is actually what a vlog is supposed to be, technically), while 해그린달’s feel more like essays to me.

Cozyday

Difficulty: Intermediate to Upper Intermediate
Compared to the first two, this one is a lot more lighthearted in tone, and it features the daily life of a young married couple. I remember watching the videos where they were decorating their new house and finding it super cute and endearing, and all their videos exude a cosy vibe (living up to their name) that makes you feel all warm and snuggly inside.

Fashion & Beauty

There are so many fashion and beauty youtubers these days that I’m sure everyone who’s interested in this topic knows at least one, so I won’t be mentioning the famous ones that everyone already knows (like PONY – I do love her videos!). Instead, I’m just going to mention two of my personal favourites that are relatively less well-known, at least in the Korean-learning community:

소신사장

Difficulty: Intermediate
I just love her style. She mostly does lookbook videos where she doesn’t speak (but the captions tell you everything you need to know and are great for picking up fashion-related vocab), but she also has videos where she reviews clothing or gives tips on how to dress better, and most of those are subbed in both Korean and English. She enunciates very clearly, which makes her easy to understand. I’ve used her videos a lot with my lower intermediate students.

조효진

Difficulty: Upper Intermediate
I find her very likable and for me, the way she carries herself is what made her stand out right away from other Korean beauty Youtubers. There’s a laidback quality to her videos that I really like and she just comes across as a friend or a big sister who’s giving you makeup advice. She does speak with a regional accent so that might take a little time to get used to if you’re not familiar with it, but the Korean and English subs help.

Food

Paik’s Cuisine

Difficulty: Upper Intermediate (He speaks quite fast, but you can always tweak the speed)
I don’t know about you, but I love watching cooking videos, even though I can’t put together a meal to save my life. There’s just something really satisfying about watching people turn raw ingredients into awesome-looking meals. The Korean celebrity chef, Park Jong Won, has a Youtube channel where he does cooking tutorials. The great thing about this channel is that all the videos are subbed only in Korean – the English subtitles are in the CC, which you can toggle on and off as needed. His accent might be a little different from what you’re used to if you’ve been listening to only perfectly enunciated standard Korean, so it would take some time to get used to, but I think it’s a good idea to expose yourself to as many accent variations as possible when you’re at the intermediate level.

지현꿍

Difficulty: Intermediate to Upper Intermediate
This is actually a vlog channel since it follows the same vlog format I described earlier, but it’s mostly focused on food, which is why I decided to put it under the food category. Her videos have a very cosy, homemade vibe and I like watching them while I eat sometimes. Try not to watch when you’re hungry though.

Comedy

장삐쭈

Difficulty: Upper Intermediate to Advanced
The guy’s a genius, and the whole channel is just pure comedy gold. You might know him for that PlayStation video that sorta blew up some time ago. He makes hilarious animation videos and occasionally dubbed parodies (where he creates ridiculous dubbing for old animation movies). He does speak insanely fast though (it’s part of his humour), but his recent videos all come with Korean and English CC, so you don’t really need to be super advanced in Korean to enjoy his content.

Current Events

PRAN

Difficulty: Upper Intermediate to Advanced
It’s hard to put a label on PRAN, because they do content on a lot of things, but if I have to sum it up somehow, I would say it’s a platform for people to come together and exchange their thoughts and perspectives on various issues. Through their videos, you’ll get to know more about current issues in Korea, as well as gain a better understanding of its people. It truly is a gem, because intermediate learners generally don’t get access to content with this much depth and nuance, but the Korean subtitles made it possible.

Reaction

ODG

Difficulty: Intermediate to Upper Intermediate
ODG’s videos follow a very specific format. They get a couple of kids (who are featured regularly in their videos), put them in the same room with a guest, and then film their interactions. The guests are different every episode – people from all walks of life, so to speak, although recently they have been featuring celebrities as well, (probably) due to their increasing popularity. On the surface, it looks like your regular reaction channel, but there’s a storytelling element to their videos that I really like. I think at its heart, ODG is a channel about people – people of all ages, perceived through the eyes of children.

Interest-Specific

We’re now entering very interest-specific territories – these channels are all related to my personal hobbies and interests in some way and may not suit you, but nevertheless:

겨울서점

Difficulty: Advanced (no subs, but she speaks very clearly)
I wish I’d found this channel earlier. She mainly talks about the books that she reads and will occasionally do videos offering tips on how to take notes while reading, how to select books etc. She’s very articulate and I really like how she expresses herself as well as how clearly she enunciates everything. She’s even done a video on how to speak better in Korean, which I found quite helpful.

홍홍자몽

Difficulty: Lower Advanced (no subs, but she enunciates things pretty clearly and I find her quite easy to understand)
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this anywhere on this site yet – I really like the Sims series. I sometimes watch videos of people playing Sims 3 and 4, which is how I found this channel. I really like her voice – it’s really soothing and I feel like I can just listen to her talk all day. Her Sims 3 series is hilarious, too. She also does videos of her Sims 4 characters in the vlog style I mentioned above, so those do have captions (if you’re an intermediate learner who happens to love Sims 4, make sure to check it out).

찐미닝

Difficulty: Upper Intermediate

Like 홍홍자몽, she also makes sims videos, although hers has a more chaotic energy. She has a couple of series going on and the great thing about her videos is that they’re subbed in Korean, which makes them a bit more accessible for learners, even though she speaks fairly fast (you can always slow the video down to 0.75 if you find it hard to follow along).

타로마스터정희도 & 타로조이픽

Difficulty: Advanced (no subs)
This might come as a surprise to some of you – even some of my friends – but I read tarot. That’s not why I watch these 2 channels though. I don’t really believe in videos like this and I look at them the same way I do those daily horoscopes we used to have in the newspapers – harmless, but don’t really work. The reason why I sometimes watch videos like this is that I find it great for learning new ways to talk about how I feel and where I am in life. If you aren’t familiar with tarot readings, they often turn into reflections on topics such as life, interpersonal relationships, self-care and spirituality. Even if you don’t believe in Tarot readings, these videos can still teach you a lot of really useful expressions that will help you express certain ideas or concepts better. I chose these two channels mostly because I like how they enunciate things and articulate their points.

안구정화TV

Difficulty: Intermediate
Finally, something for my fellow ARMYs! The creator of this channel is an ARMY herself, and she makes all sorts of Bangtan-related content, like album or merch unboxing videos, or DIY using leftover packaging of the recent BTS x McDonalds collaboration. Her videos are subbed in both English and Korean, and are generally pretty easy to follow, so they’re perfect for intermediate learners!

Others

Channels that don’t really fit under any of the aforementioned categories:

라이브 아카데미

Difficulty: Upper Intermediate to Advanced
This one is better suited for upper intermediate and advanced learners as it requires a bit of reverse engineering. It’s a channel that teaches English, and it’s targeted at Koreans, and as such, none of the videos are subbed. You will, however, get to see how to word complex sentences in Korean, as the creator regularly translates the English sentence examples he’s using into Korean for the benefit of his viewers. This is great if you’re looking to beef up your vocabulary and pick up more advanced grammar points to build your sentences with. As a lower advanced learner, I still watch his videos regularly because it gives me ideas on how to explain English grammar to my Korean language exchange partners.

사물궁이 잡학지식

Difficulty: Upper Intermediate to Advanced (the content can get quite complex, but the videos are fully subbed)
This is a channel that aims to offer its viewers general (or maybe not so general) knowledge on all kinds of random things, like why tissue papers have multiple layers, whether plastic surgery existed in the past, or why we twitch and squirm in our sleep, etc. It’s great because these are probably things you will never come across in your textbooks and the amount of random vocab that you learn by watching these videos is amazing. It’s also great for learning how to structure your sentences better when you’re explaining something – another skill language textbooks don’t teach you.


That’s it for now! I hope you found this list helpful – the transition from content targeted at learners to those targeted at native speakers may be rough at first, and you might yourself struggling a lot at the start, but it does get better with time, and I promise it’ll be worth it.

Best of luck with your studies, and happy learning!

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