It's safe to say K-pop has officially taken over the world. Though South Korean pop music has been popular domestically for many decades, it is only in the last few years that we've witnessed the sensation catch on globally.
Millions of fans worldwide have fallen in love with acts like BTS and Blackpink. Not limited to dancing along to the music, this phenomenon has inspired countless Millennials and Gen Z-ers to learn about broader Korean culture—hoping to understand as much about their idols' language and background as possible.
That being said, we've rounded up the best books for K-pop fans hoping to immerse themselves in the world of Korean pop culture.
These books introduce a colloquial form of Korean—one that you'll never learn from a formal language course or textbook! From 'tag me in that photo (geu sajine nal taegeuhae) to 'hey, want to get some fried chicken and beer?' (Ya, chimaek meogeullae) and 'would you like to dance?' (chum chullaeyo) to 'I wanna hold your hand' (neo sonjaba bogo shipeo), the Making Out in Korean books will have readers speaking like young Koreans in no time. Recommended for ages 15 & up
This book reinvents the culture guide for the Internet age. Packed with interesting bits of information and color photos, it covers all the touchstones of Korean culture, both modern and traditional: cultural code words and norms, Buddhism, Taekwondo, personal relationships, technology and peculiar practices that are uniquely Korean.
Chapters include Love and Courtship in Korea: Dating and Marriage, Korean-Style; Education in Korea: Shut up and Study!; The Aegyo Syndrome: Girliness to the Max; Boys in the Limelight: The Rise of the Pretty-Boy; The Best Korean Music You've Never Heard and Popular Myths About Korea.
These Korean dictionaries are completely different, but both are useful resources for improving your Korean language skills. The Korean Picture Dictionary is a visual guide to learning the basics of Korean vocabulary. It includes country-specific words, like those that you'd use when eating Korean food or celebrating a Korean holiday.
The Mini Korean Dictionary is a perfect on-the-go reference. At just 2.5" x 3.75", it is easy to throw in your backpack or carry-on luggage.
K-POP Now takes a fun look at Korea's high energy pop music. Featuring many of the most famous groups and acts from the last five years, this book also includes a guide for fans who want/plan to visit Seoul to explore K-pop up close and personal.
For people who want a quick and easy way to learn the basics of Korean, Survival Korean and Korean Flash Cards are the way to go. Korean Flash Cards are a great way to practice your Korean whenever you have a spare moment, or even on-the-go. The 200 hole-punched cards contain more than 1,000 commonly used Korean words and phrases.
Survival Korean is a small, but comprehensive introduction to the language. Broken into four primary sections (common Korean expressions and words, essential Korean communication tools, Korean travel vocabulary & useful Korean expressions), this book includes phonetic spellings of Korean words for easy pronunciation.