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How to Memorize Korean Words Easily

Purpose of this Guide

The purpose of this page is to teach you how to remember Korean words easily. Often times, people think it is difficult to memorize Korean words because they are so different in sound and structure to that of their native language.

While this may be true, learning and remembering Korean words doesn’t have to be difficult! Follow the tips and strategies in this guide, and you’ll find that it can be quite easy to make the words stick in your head.

This guide is a sample lesson take from our Korean Word Memorization Pack. If you’d like the PDF version of the guide, click the image below:

5 Simple Steps to Easily Memorize Korean Words

Background on Remembering Korean Words


Have you ever studied a list of words in a new language and seemed confident you knew them, but when it came time to recall those words in a make-or-break situation of real life conversation, you couldn’t recall the word?

If so, you know that recognition does not equal recall.

Training for recall is seen as much more difficult than recognition, but it doesn’t need to be that way. World record holders in memory contests have even claimed that those of average IQ could easily use the same memory techniques and mnemonic devices to win world records themselves.

In this guide, we’ll present you with stories and images you can use to improve your recall of common Korean words. These strategies will help you learn how to remember Korean words.

The Korean Word Memorization Pack was born out of necessity after hundreds of students requested an easier way to learn Korean vocabulary.

Relying on rote memorization to learn Korean vocabulary is challenging (and often not fun!). The words and sounds of Korean can sound like gibberish in the beginning to speakers of other languages.

Repeating the words over and over in your head doesn’t help them stick. It’s possible to memorize them, but when it comes time to recall them, you will be stuck. This is the most common method utilized by language learners. When there’s a new vocabulary word to learn, they try to force its memorization through rote repetition.

For example, imagine you had the Korean word 이름 (the Korean word for “name”) on your list of words to remember. A typical student might simply repeat this word over and over in their head:

“이름 – name, 이름 – name, 이름 – name,” and so on.

While this can be successful in creating a memory, it is not practical because:

a) it takes an inordinate amount of time, and

b) no deep connections are formed in the brain that allow for recall.

Ever heard the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words?” It is indeed true. If you compared your brain’s ability to memorize the details in a picture with its ability to remember those same details verbally, you’d notice the brain can much more easily remember visual cues.

The problem lies in the fact that it takes very little time to write down a word than it does to sit down, generate an association and produce a visual image. Visual images greatly reduce your learning time, but they also take a long time to create.

The mnemonics in this guide will allow you to save hundreds of hours of rote memorization.

After learning the words, the next step is application in real conversations!

Please note, this guide assumes knowledge of Hangeul (the Korean alphabet).

If you can not yet read Korean, you may download a free lesson here. It is a critical step in learning how to remember Korean words.

Let’s get started!

How to Remember Korean Verbs

CLIPS™ Process by 90 Day Korean This technique involves creating mini “movie clips” in your mind. When you force your brain to create visuals for the information you’re reading, you create a much deeper association. It’s like reading a book versus watching a movie. When you read a book, your mind is forced to create visuals for the information you’re reading and you create much deeper associations in your mind.

However, when you watch a movie, the action is much more passive since the director has already imagined how everything should look and presents it to you visually. No imagination is needed.

In this sense, using the CLIPS™ Process to learn Korean words is like reading a screenplay to a movie! You can picture the action taking place yourself.

We can use the CLIPS™ Process to memorize Korean verbs.

The process involves 5 steps:

1) Classify

2) Link

3) Invent

4) Picture

5) Say

Step 1: Classify

1. Classify the word – Is it a 다 verb or a 하다 verb?

2. Remove the verb ending

1. Break down the verb root into syllables or pieces (if applicable)

2. Find link words and create associations

Step 3: Invent

1. Create a back story to go with the link words

2.Add personal memories and extra details to the story

Step 4: Picture

1. Imagine the scenario in your head, noting if it’s a 다 verb or a 하다 verb

2.Draw a rough sketch

Step 5: Say

1. Say the back story aloud to help secure the memory

2. Rehearse the link words and the association

The CLIPSProcess is made more powerful if you create your own stories. One of the most effective ways of enhancing your associations is by linking them to your personal life.

The examples we provide in this guide can be changed or tweaked however you see fit.

You can change the story, add extra background information to it, and associate it with a personal memory.

We encourage you to add more colorful details to the story. For example, if there is a man in the back story, truly visualize the situation add extra details like the color of the hat he is wearing, or what color his eyes are. The more detail the better!

In using the CLIPSProcess, you’ll be learning Korean words bidirectionally! This means that when you go to use the words in conversation, you’ll not only be able to recall it yourself but you’ll be able to listen for the word and understand it when the other person uses it.


So now it’s your turn.

For the following words presented in the guide, go through each step of the the CLIPSProcess.

First, determine if the verb is a 다 verb or a 하다 verb.

Review the link words, and create the associations in your mind by creating a detailed mental picture. Read through the back story, and feel free to change it or create your own. Picture it in your head, and draw a sketch using the worksheets provided as part of the Korean Word Memorization Pack.

Finally, say the link words out loud.

Let’s get started. We’ll do the first one for you.

Korean Verb Association Example

오다 (oda) – To come

How to remember the Korean Verb to Come

Now it’s your turn! Use the CLIPSProcess to create associations for these five Korean verbs:

1. 가다 – to go

2. 먹다 – to eat

3. 마시다 –  to drink

4. 공부하다 – to study

5. 운정하다 – to drive

How to Remember Korean Nouns

These are nouns, and only require a simple association. The back story that you use with the Korean verbs is optional.

One of the reasons why the noun associations are much simpler is because there is no conjugation component. You don’t have to be concerned with the other forms of the noun because you’ll generally see the nouns used one way. Also, many of the nouns contain only one or two syllables, making them easier to create stories and associations for.

The more vivid and descriptive you can make the associations, the better they will stick in your mind. Once you create the stories, review them often. Remember that real-life application will help solidify the associations, so get out there and make sure to practice the words in real life situations!

For example, take a look at the Korean noun association below. In what situations could you practice this association?

Korean Noun Association Example

집 (jip) – house

Memorize Korean Nouns Jeep

The above association is an easy one to practice as you go about your day. Anytime you pass by a house, image that there is a Jeep parked in front of the house. Then you’ll know that the word for “house” in Korean is 집!

Isn’t that a simple way to learn how to remember Korean words?

Now let’s see what kind of associations you can create for these five nouns:

1. 작가 – writer

2. 선수 – athlete

3. 연필 – pencil

4. 문 – door

5. 시계 – clock

Now that you know how to make associations for Korean words, spend some time creating your own stories. The small amount of time investment up front will help you learn Korean fast. Create the associations, draw some rough sketches, make flash cards, and get to studying. You’ll be glad you did!