Survey – Books on Korean Culture and History?

So far, all of the paper books that the TalkToMeInKorean team has published are about the Korean language. We have a bunch of new books coming out this year on learning Korean, but our publishers would like to know if our listeners are also interested in learning more about the Korean culture and history through books. If we were to publish books on Korea’s culture and/or history, what kind of topics would you like to read about? And what kind of books (including Korean language reference books) would you like us to publish in the future? Please let us know in the comments!


  • beatbox

    I would love to learn about famous works of the history of the language as well as literature including famous authors(modern and in the past), famous books that influence a great amount of people. I’m taking my TOPIK test next week. IF i get a high enough score, I will apply for Kyoungbuk univ grad school to study Korean literature =.

  • Hermine

    I have read extensively about Korean history, but it’s rather bulky books either in English or French, and I often forget what happened thousands of years ago by the time I reach the contemporary era… I guess a succint timeline of Korean history in Korean is exactly what I need at the moment!

  • Jiwon

    I have studied Korean history a lot, but since the scientific books have so much content, it’s hard to remember everything. I think a book like ‘100 most important people of korean history’ or ‘100 most important events of korean history’ (that also have influence on today) would be great.
    and for language: I think it’s sometimes really difficult to use words or grammar that are the same or similar in meaning. If there was a book which compares these similar expressions with examples of when to use which/when they can be used interchangably it would be helpful to a lot of learners.

  • Taleen Brady

    I think Korean history is really interesting but really dense so if you could write a book that makes it both fun and manageable, that would be fantastic. Also, a cookbook or a book on Korean food would be interesting. Korean food is such a huge part of the culture, but different cookbooks are so overwhelming! Maybe a cookbook combined with history would be helpful.

    For Korean culture, sometimes I found the simplest thing to be difficult. Like shopping or drinking culture. Often there are different English terms for things in Korea that can be confusing. For example, what is the different between essence, lotion, and emulsion? I still don’t know.

    As for language books, I continue to love the workbooks and original lesson books. They are my favorites and I hope you will be able to make more of them. Thank you for all of the wonderful things you make. It has made learning Korean so fun! 선생님들 정말 감사합니다!!

  • 수염

    A book on Korean folklore and tradition would be great. Topics could include ancestor worship, geomancy, the historical wedding ceremony, pansori, folk tales, etc.

  • Akito

    I would like to see a Korean History Book divided by a kind of era ( Old koreans, then a chapter full of Korean dynasties, tradition, clothes, maps comparing old korea and modern korea, etc also including pictures of korean currency with they respective Historical characters and a brief description.
    I would also like to see folktales book, lyrics from traditional korean songs, traditional food picture book.

    I suggest doing it bilingual (Korean*Engish)/(Korean*Japanese)

    • ARL


  • peony

    wow interesting idea! i love to know about classic and modern Korean painting, classic poems, Korean food culture.
    AND, please please make e-books out of these books too!

  • RShallies

    I would really like a book on 20th/21st century Korean history using personal histories of elders and celebrities. I think the biggest story of the modern age has been the evolution Korea from a third world country to what it is today. Even theTTMIK staff has commented on the changes in their lifetime.

  • Cee

    I think two separate books would be good, one for the history, folklore of Korea and one for everyday cultural things. The history one could include a variety of things, including major events dating back to Joseon era, as well as things like traditional festivals such as the New Year. Traditional clothes, traditional food, even traditional music and as mentioned, folklore. As opposed to dense block of texts these could be presented in a creative way with visuals. Organizing it would be a lot of hassle, I imagine, as well as deciding what should make it into the book – but I believe it’ll be worth it.

    As for everyday cultural things… I think a lot of us would like to know what it is like to live in modern day Korea. There are a lot of very subtle things in daily interactions that might come quite natural to the natives but appear baffling to us foreigners. I think the politeness levels alone illustrates this, as it takes many of us a long time to get used to it, because to do so is not merely adopting the certain speaking style/conjugation system, but to think in an entirely different way – it’s not just speaking in Korean, but also thinking in Korean, right? The immersion in the culture is crucial to language learning, and regarding this I’d like to say TTMIK is already doing a great job, providing things like news article and culture ramblings etc.

    I’d love to know what is it like to take the subway – do people talk loudly, or do they sit in silence like Japanese do? If so, why do they do so? What kind of things do teens do for fun? I’ve seen a video before that explained how the Japanese behaves at karaoke, like how it is rude to just bump up a song, and how everyone has to take turn, each of them singing only a verse so the other people don’t have to wait for too long. I find this completely different from my culture and I would most likely have misbehaved if I had gone to a karaoke with Japanese, and it’ll be fun to find out about little things like this about Korea. ^_^

    I also remember watching a video that explained how in Korea a lot of girls seem to find it inappropriate for their boyfriends (and vice versa) to spend time alone with a female friend (it’s okay however to hang out with 2/a group of friends of both genders). I can relate completely because such is true in my country as well, but was surprised to find many foreigners commenting on how they couldn’t wrap their mind around such concept of relationship, etc. This is only an example – perhaps not a very good one – but I think it illustrates how differently natives and foreigners often perceive things when it comes to culture. It’s little things like this textbooks will never tell you, and for most of us foreigners we usually are left to interpret liberally off of what we see in dramas and music, which I’m sure aren’t completely accurate/realistic portrayals of the Korean population. Not sure if this is a realistic idea for a book but I thought I’ll say it anyway. xD

    I apologize for the big fat blocks of text I have just bombarded you guys with. 😐 I tend to ramble. I’m sure whatever you guys come up with in the end would be amazing, though, and I’ll certainly be looking forward to buying it!

  • Bruno Gramigna

    I’d like a simple novel /children book with English text and grammar points explained 😀 history book is also interesting, if made simple!

    • Taleen Brady

      I like this! I think a book of Korean children’s stories could be very cute and useful.

  • Serenity Maria

    I think an in depth practice book is needed. The workbook focus to much on questions that the podcast can give the answers to very easy. You need more practice questions. The workbooks are to short and the questions are to simple and easy. You need to make a great practice books from beginner to advanced. focusing on a lot of questions that is challenging. Especially questions that help with topic and subject particles.

    Also like the other commentors. Some suggestion of Korean history books would be great.

    • Kelly Gothra

      I think this is a great idea couldn’t have said it better re: the practice book. Would like to see cook book in English & Korean. Some history, culture and how to sew or make a hanbok or traditional Korean dress/costume

  • Toi

    Comics! I am now studying Korean by reading the comics on Naver webtoon. They have both English and Korean version.

  • I would love a book on traditional art, classic literature and poetry, and folklore. I also would love to see a cookbook, not only because traditional Korean food is good, but because I have a cookbook in Korean that I can’t figure out how to translate. I could use the extra help!

    Even if you can’t make books out of these, I think they’d make great lessons!

  • Naeema

    I love the idea of a TTMIK history book. As others have mentioned most of available ones are thick and dense and make remembering things difficult. Perhaps a timeline of major Korean historical events or history of Korea in 100 events etc. in the usual chatty TTMIK style. It makes info very accessible.

    I also like the idea of a Korean culture book/life in Korea. I love the culture ramblings you guys do so a book in a similar vein would be both informative and enjoyable.

    A cookery book is a fantastic idea. I think lots of people interested in Korea are very interested in he food. I love seeing all the different types of food, so different and tasty looking compared to European cooking. Perhaps a small book with some simple, favourite recipes that crop up often.

    Thanks for all your hard work so far. You make learning Korean a very fun experience. 🙂

  • ARL

    Could you just please publish the 삼국사기 in English? Or anything about history before the Japanese colonial period.

  • Oh my god, yes! I would love this!

  • ShirL

    This would be a great addition to our studies! Maybe famous land marks (include the picture and location) around South Korea and its historical importance. Plus the important Korean vocabulary particular to that landmark for study.

    One thing that i would like to learn and very hard to find is information about traveling to South Korea. In particular about airport language and vocabulary. From getting off (and on) the airplane (when arriving and leaving SK) and going through customs, declaring and even basic phrases of important words such as passports please, boarding passes, luggage… Maybe a step by step tutoring.

    Simple cooking book would be great too! Read, Write and Cook ^^

    • Jennifer Schrader

      It’s not exactly the travel-to-South-Korea book you’re talking about, but this “Survival Korean” book is excellent: I actually got it just at the end of my first-ever trip to Korea and read it when I got home, and I kept laughing to read explanations of things that had confused me while I was there. It won’t get you through customs, specifically (though that was quite easy to do in English, even dead tired after 20 hours of flying), but it will definitely help you get around the country while you’re there.

  • Julia Yazbek

    Well all your books are great so far. I used workbooks level 1,2 and 3. I also used Korean verb guide which is book no.1 for me and i also used my weekly Korean vocabulary book 1. Because of your great books and lessons I was able to join Korean lessons at Kuwait university in a collaboration with 숙명여자대학교 with a good level. So i am so thankful.
    Now if you want to publish books on Korea’s culture or history I guess the best topics will be about 국악 (판소리, 가야금, 해금,… etc) , sanjo and the famous Korean masters that developed gugak. A good topic also would be about Korean figures in history that played a good role in developing Korean art, music,… etc
    Or maybe a book about Korean traditions in 설날 or chuseok like traditional food or maybe games like 널뛰기..

    As for language can you please make a book about pronunciation. Like pronunciation of 의 when it come at the beginning, middle or when it used as a possessive , pronunciation of ㅅ when it is followed by initial consonant ㄴ or ㅁ . A pronunciation book like this.
    Once again thank you soooo much for all your books.
    Korean verb guide is no.1 … one of the best Korean books I have ever had. Thank you ..

    • Taleen Brady

      A book about how to play different Korean games would be really good! Great idea!

    • Julia Yazbek

      Another game also is 윷놀이

  • Jennifer Schrader

    In the U.S., there’s a project called “Story Corps” ( meant to capture everyday, personal important stories. The format is often a parent and child conversing about something meaningful to them, some seminal moment in their family history. I would love to read a book of these created by Koreans, particularly stories having to do with the rapid changes in Korea since the 1980’s. It would be even better if it came with audio recordings, too. Hearing people’s personal stories makes history so much more real than just reading an accounting of the general facts.

    • ARL

      This sounds way better than my idea. TTMIK please do this!

    • Taleen Brady

      This is an awesome idea!

  • Jonathan Schatz

    I would love books about traditional Korean culture and how it has evolved with history. A book about Korean history would also be great. It would be extremely useful if these books could be in Korean with translations into English. I would love some material on the Korean zodiac and the meanings of the different animals in Korean and English. Thanks!

  • Charlie

    What about a simple, fun, illustrated history of the Korean language? Maybe something about its origins and how it developed over time. I’m curious about this topic, at least!

  • Tobi

    Why not a story book in easier Korean? There are many books like that for English learner. They difficulty levels are based on a vocabulary of 500, 1000, 2000 words. Difficult words are explained on a side note. I think a real story would motivate me most to actually read the whole book 🙂 history may be interesting, but wouldn’t motivate me a lot. Also every day vocabulary and sentences won’t appear that much in a history book.

  • 에비

    I’d love to learn basic Korean history that’s taught in elementary/middle school in Korea.

    • JooyeonPark

      I see. Thanks for your opinion! 🙂

  • Holger

    문화가 좋아해요. What about a book about daily life in Korea? Like photographies and we as the learners can see what is so typical korean…
    Or a “how to koreanize one self” book… ㅋㅋㅋ

  • Jennifer Schrader

    This isn’t related to culture or history, but I have a language book suggestion, or maybe an e-lesson series. Maybe you could call it the “Awkward Sentences Hall of Fame”. 🙂 (If you want to be more positive, maybe you could call it “Speak Like a Native”. ^_^) Your “How do you say this in Korean” series accomplishes some of this, by telling us how to say some common things in a much more natural way, but I’d like also to see a more advanced series that actually shows some before-and-after versions of sentences. Before: perfectly grammatical, understandable sentence that screams 외국인. After: the way a Korean native would say the same thing. Followup: some kind of discussion that generalizes somewhat from the sentence being demonstrated. Granted, this is the kind of thing a learner slowly absorbs (hopefully… I guess I can’t be sure of that yet ^^) through continued study, but it would be awfully nice to be able to think about such things in a learning context instead of always just encountering them in the wild and being bewildered. It would be particularly useful with more complex sentences. If you still have your HaruKorean database around, I’d imagine you have plenty of raw material you could construct nice iconic examples from. Thanks!

  • Jennifer Voon

    I am planning to take the korean language proficiency test (TOPIK). I am worried about the 쓰기 of the exam especially the essay writing questions but I cannot find any book focusing on essay writing. It would be awesome if Ttmik team could make a book focusing on essay writing.

  • Kat

    I would love to see a book about the history of the Korean language and the history of hangeul, as well as how Korean culture, history, and language have influenced each other (for example politeness levels, loan words from other languages, words or phrases that are difficult to translate to other languages, etc.).

  • Hien Pham

    Because I like travelling so it would be great if ttmik could publish a book about travelling in Korea. It may contain general information about Korean tourism as well as detailed info about must-go tourist attractions all over Korea. Also Korea has many historical place that appear a lot in Korean historical drama, so I would know more about the history of these places through the book. I think this could be also a great way for foreigners to know more about the history of Korea & have some useful info if they have a plan for a long trip in Korea. You can also introduce Korean words or phrases that would be useful for first time travellers in Korea.

  • Ntshikeng Giggler Matooane

    Perhaps a book with Korean folklore or history or short stories or tales but for comprehension purposes ( like with a vocab breakdown and little test at the end).

  • Benjamin Hinrichsen

    신체언어에 대한 책을 만들어면 좋겠어요!