Want to learn about Korean numbers? You came to the right place, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about how to count in Korean!
Korean counting is easy once you learn the most important Korean numbers. You only need to learn a small group of numbers, and you’ll be able to count to a billion (and higher).
It’s fun and easy. Ready to find out how? Let’s go!
- 1 Intro to Korean Numbers and Counting
- 2 Numbers in Korean
- 3 Two Systems of Korean Numbers
- 4 The Sino-Korean Numbers System
- 5 The Native Korean Numbers System
- 6 When to use Sino Korean and Native Korean Numbers
- 7 How do you say "numbers" in Korean?
Intro to Korean Numbers and Counting
We hope you’ve got your counting shoes on today, because we’re going to teach you the two Korean number systems faster than you can count from 1 to 1000! You can also get a free PDF guide to counting here:
We have some good counting news and some bad counting news: the good news is that you will only need to learn around 35-40 numbers to be able to count everything you'll ever need to count in Korean (including large numbers!).
The bad news is *brace yourself* — – we must learn two completely different systems of numbers in Korean and they both have their own uses!
So buckle up and get ready, we're going to help you learn the different words for Korean numbers in no time! We'll kick things off with a table of the numbers so we know what we're in for. Then, we'll discuss ways to break down your learning into easily digestible chunks. We'll give you the numbers in Hangeul (the Korean alphabet) with romanization.
If you don't know how to read the Korean alphabet yet, we highly recommend you learn. It's a good idea to build a foundation in the basics with your Korean learning, then new concepts will come easier.
Numbers in Korean
Let's get started by taking a look at what we're going to learn today. After going through the lesson, you should know all of these numbers in Korean:
|Numeral||Sino-Korean (China System)||Native Korean (Korea System)|
We're going to learn the 20% of the words for numbers that are used 80% of the time. That will help us learn both small and large numbers quite quickly. But first, let's learn about why there are two systems of Korean numbers.
Note: You can use 영 (yeong) or 공 ( gong) for zero. More on how to use the Korean numbers for zero below.
Two Systems of Korean Numbers
I know what you’re probably thinking — “WHAT?! KOREA USES TWO NUMBER SYSTEMS?!”
But don’t worry, it’s not all that bad.
To understand why two different number systems are used in the Korean language, it will help to go all the way back to the beginning for a mini-history lesson!
Over the years the Korean language has developed two systems for numbering things. Korea and China have a long history, and the first number system we'll learn was derived from Chinese characters (though the words themselves are uniquely Korean).
This is a fun and easy system to use because you can count up to very large numbers using it--all the way up to a billion and beyond! The numbers are quite simple. The words used for the set of numbers from 1-10, plus the numbers for 100, 1000, and even 10,000 are all only one syllable words!
The Sino-Korean Numbers System
The first set of numbers is called the Sino-Korean numbers system. This set has its roots in Chinese numbers, so you might want to think of this one as using the "China System". If you know Chinese, some of the numbers may sound familiar to you.
Like China, this number system has a population of well over a billion. It is like the Great Wall of China — it stretches for many miles, but it is not very high in most places (ie., the words for its numbers don’t have many syllables). It’s beautiful in its simplicity, yet it serves a very important function.
To learn every number you’ll ever need to know in this Korean counting system, you only need to memorize 18 numbers.
That’s right! Learn the set of numbers 1-10 plus the words for hundred, thousand, ten thousand, and a few increments after that and you can create all the other numbers easily through simple combinations.
That should be reassuring. Korean counting using the Sino-Korean numbers system is quite easy, even when you get to large numbers!
Imagine you were learning English for the first time now. You’d have to learn many more numbers than you would be using the Sino-Korean numbers system. That is because each multiple of ten has a new name in English.
In Korean, it’s just a matter of simple multiplication.
For example, 10 in Korean is 십 (sip). 20 in Korean is literally “two-ten” (이십 | isip), 30 is “three-ten” (삼십 | samsip) and so on.
Likewise, 100 in the Sino-Korean numbers system is 백 (baek) while 200 is “two-hundred” (이백 | ibaek) and 300 is “three-hundred” (삼백 | sambaek).
And this pattern continues in the Sino-Korean numbers system even up into the billions. Just multiply or combine and you’ve got yourself the Korean number you’re looking for!
Knowing how easy it is to create numbers in Korean. Your only task becomes to memorize the critical 18 Sino-Korean numbers.
The Magic 10 Numbers
First, let's focus on the set of words used for numbers 1-10 in the Sino-Korean number system. We like to call these "The Magic 10" because once we have them memorized, we can use them to create new numbers out of — just like magic! Remember that this number system is called the Sino-Korean Numbers, or simply the Chinese numbers.
Here they are:
There are many ways to memorize these core Sino-Korean numbers. One is creating a peg system. This is just one method you may wish to use!
Just make sure to memorize those first set of 10 Sino-Korean numbers before progressing in the lesson! Take your time and memorize them now.
The Other 8 Critical Korean Numbers
Ok great! Now, equipped with that knowledge, you can make all the Sino-Korean numbers from 1-99 through simple combinations. The smaller number always comes first. In other words, it’s “two ten” not “ten two.”
We're going to learn them as we go, but let's get a quick preview of what we're going to learn. Here are the remaining 8 numbers we need to learn to count in Korean to a billion and beyond!
In fact, if we just remember the words for one hundred, one thousand, and ten thousand, we are able to create combinations that create the other Sino-Korean numbers.
|ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND|
|ONE HUNDRED MILLION|
Note: We've added exercises into this Korean numbers lesson to help with comprehension and to give you a fun challenge for your language learning skills! Figuring things out for yourself will actually assist in your comprehension and make it easier for you to make the numbers on your own in the future — quickly, easily and without the need for cues. You'll be asked to use the information we've given you to come up with answers before we present them and this will help you retain the information better. These are optional and you may wish to just memorize the numbers we've presented to you and move on, but we recommend going through them.
With that said, let’s get to it!
Self-Learning Exercises for Korean Numbers
Give the following exercise a go so you learn for yourself how easy it is to create the larger Korean numbers! Answers are directly below so cover them up before attempting it yourself and only check your answers once you've tried.
Instructions: Try to write or say the following numbers in Korean.
Next, it’s time to up the ante.
To create the numbers in between, just tack on the “ones” digit at the end.
Let’s try some non-rounded numbers for an extra challenge.
Instructions: Try to write or say the following examples using numbers in Korean.
Nice work on those Korean numbers!
As you can see, a pattern emerges for numbers greater than 10 and lower than 100.
First, you write the tens digit, then you write the ones digit. If the number is greater than twenty, then the appropriate number is added in front of the tens digit to indicate.
For example, twenty is 이십 (isip) because it is “two tens.” Likewise, thirty is 삼십 (samsip) because it is “three tens,” and so on.
This makes it easier to count numbers in Korean than in English, where we have to memorize a new word for every “ten” less than 100.
But as you begin to count higher and higher, there needs to be a hundreds digit, and we add this in front of the tens digit just as we would in English.
100 + 23 = 123
Start with the largest number!
If we were writing or saying this number in Korean, we’d start on the left and work our way right, one digit at a time.
The word used for “hundred” in Korean is:
Give it a try yourself!
Instructions: Attempt to write the following examples using numbers in Korean before checking the answers.
RULE: If there is no tens digit, you just skip it and write the ones digit.
It is the same as in English. We wouldn’t write “one hundred, zero ten and one,” we just say “one hundred and one.”
The same rules apply to Korean numbers. You just write the numbers as you would in English.
Next, we need to learn the word used for a thousand:
You’re starting to get the hang out this, why don’t you try a few numbers exercises before we continue on? Remember — start on the left and work your way right when breaking down Korean numbers.
Instructions: Attempt to write the following examples using numbers in Korean before checking the answers.
Great work, you're getting the hang of Korean numbers! As you can see, you also just skip over the hundreds digit if it is absent.
After that, the next significant number is ten thousand. Actually, this number is very significant in Korean culture.
As you may know, the Korean currency is called the won.
₩ – >Korean won (원 | won)
The Korean won comes in 10 000 won increments, and although 50 000 won bills also exist, 10 000 won (만원 | manwon) bills are by far most commonly used.
Here is the Korean word used for ten thousand:
Let’s attempt to write some numbers you may possibly hear as the total when making a purchase at a retail store in Korea.
Just follow along with the same pattern we’ve been using, but this time try adding the word “won” (원) at the end to indicate we’re talking about currency.
Instructions: Only check the answers once you’ve tried to write down or say the numbers in Korean.
|₩ 55 200|
|₩ 16 000|
|₩ 20 700|
|₩ 91 400|
|₩ 10 000|
|₩ 49 500|
|₩ 55 200||오만 오천이백 원 (oman ocheonibaek won)|
|₩ 16 000||만 육천 원 (man yukcheon won)|
|₩ 20 700||이만 칠백 원 (iman chilbaek won)|
|₩ 91 400||구만 천사백 원 (guman cheonsabaek won)|
|₩ 10 000||만원 (manwon)|
|₩ 49 500||사만 구천오백 원 (saman gucheonobaek won)|
Notice that when it’s one hundred, one thousand, or ten thousand, you don’t need to say “one” in front of the number. In other words, one hundred won in Korean is 백원 (baegwon) not “일백원 (ilbaegwon).” Likewise, ten thousand won is 만원 (manwon) not “일만원 (ilmanwon).”
The tricky part is going above ten thousand.
The higher numbers in Korean (one hundred thousand, a million, ten million, etc.) are calculated in increments of ten thousand.
In the English numbering system, we use thousands: one hundred thousand, ten thousand, and so on. But in Korean, they use ten thousand as the base.
This makes things tricky for native English speakers and native Korean language speakers alike to translate higher numbers quickly between the two different languages. But equipped with the right 80/20 knowledge, you can do it easily!
As English uses one thousand as the base number, we call the number 100 000 “one hundred thousand.”
In the Korean language, using 10 000 units as a base, we’d call it “ten (십 | sip) ten thousand (만 | man).” Makes sense, it’s 10 ten thousand units.
A million would, therefore, be “one hundred (백 | baek) ten thousand (만 | man)” since it’s 100 ten thousand units.
Adding another zero would make it “1000 ten thousand units.”
The Secret to Success: Count the Zeros
The key to Korean numbers is to count the zeros.
Since we are using increments of 10 000, we know there are always four zeros at a minimum. Everything in front of the four zeros is the number we add in front of “만 (man).”
For example, for 10 000 000, we can take out the four zeros first since we know that indicates “ten thousand (만 | man).” Let’s do that now:
10 000 000
Then, we look at the number that is left over. In this case, it’s 1000:
10 000 000
One thousand in Korean is 천 (cheon), so it’s 천만 (cheonman). For a non-rounded number, you’d do the same thing!
Try the following example exercises. Just take out four zeros, then write the number left in front. We’ll even throw a few curveballs your way for added fun!
Instructions: Only check the answers once you’ve tried to write down or say the numbers in Korean.
|2 500 000|
|99 850 000|
|5 050 000|
|67 280 000|
|1 000 001|
|19 450 290|
|2 500 000||이백오십만 (ibaegosimman)|
|99 850 000||구천구백팔십오만 (gucheongubaekpalsiboman)|
|5 050 000||오백오만 (obaegoman)|
|67 280 000||육천칠백이십팔만 (yukcheonchilbaegisip-palman)|
|1 000 001||백만일 (baengmanil)|
|19 450 290||천구백사십오만 이백구십 (cheongubaeksasiboman ibaekgusip)|
With that little trick, it makes things a lot easier doesn’t it?
Notice that when the numbers are not rounded numbers, the same rule still applies. Take out four digits on right just as you would if the number was round, then start with the number left over on the left-hand side. Add “만 (man)”, and then finally write the remaining numbers.
Next, we'll learn the number for 100 000 000 (one hundred million). It has a special name in Korean and becomes the new base increment as the numbers get higher than one hundred million. It is called 억 (eok).
Just notice that in this case, one hundred million is written with “일 (il)” in front of it (unlike the numbers for one hundred, one thousand, or ten thousand).
Instead of taking out four zeros in this case, you’d just take out eight zeros, then write the number left over in front of “억 (eok).”
For example, you could write one billion:
With another zero, it would become . Add one more and it’s 천억 (cheoneok). That’s 100 000 000 000! You just counted to 100 billion in Korean!
The higher numbers are commonly used for housing prices, monthly rents, and deposit amounts. Therefore, if you are planning to rent a house in Korea, you can put your newfound language knowledge to use!
As you can see, knowing just these 18 numbers can allow you to count in Korean all the way up to 1 000 000 000 and higher. Large numbers will be a breeze for you.
You’ve worked hard and deserve a huge congratulations!
You previously learned how to count in Korean from one all the way up to a billion and beyond. It was hard work, but you made it!
Now you're halfway there. Let’s move on to learn about the other system used for Korean numbers.
The Native Korean Numbers System
The Native Korean numbers system is a bit more modern than the Sino-Korean numbers system. Like the country of Korea, it has a much lower population (only 99 numbers to be precise), and it tends to be more than one layer (many of the numbers are at least two syllables)!
You can think of this set of numbers as the "Korea System".
The first number in the Native Korean numbers system is 하나 (hana), which is shortened to 한 (han) when counting in Korean.
This makes it easy to remember as the Native Korean numbers system, considering that 한국 (hanguk) means “Korea.” They have the same first syllable!
The Native Korean numbers system has more complex words for numbers, and they can be trickier to internalize at first.
It’s best to start with just the numbers 1-4 in the beginning, as these are what you’ll use most often. Luckily, these four Native Korean numbers are some of the easiest to learn and have fewer syllables.
After you are comfortable with these numbers, move on to learn the Native Korean numbers all the way to 10!
Though the set of numbers goes all the way up to 99, you will rarely ever use numbers greater than 10 with the Native Korean numbers system.
The exception would be when saying your age or hearing other people’s ages, so it is suggested you learn the Native Korean numbers 20, 30, and any other that is necessary for saying your age.
With the exception of these numbers, you’ll often hear most Koreans just using the simpler Sino-Korean numbers system when counting large numbers so it really isn’t necessary to learn the others unless you wish to for personal knowledge or the rare exception.
Well, those are the two systems but we know you may have a few questions. Let’s F-A-Q this thing!
Why Are There Two Systems of Korean Numbers?
Consider it a thing of beauty, something that makes the Korean language unique.
Just as other languages have oddities or unique points that seemingly don’t make sense on the surface, Korea’s two number systems are a reflection of its rich history.
It evolved two number systems over time and just know that learning both are important in order to get by in Korea!
Take it on as a challenge. By learning the second system of numbers, you’ll open up a whole new set of possibilities for yourself in terms of counting in Korean, ordering in restaurants, and many other practical uses!
How Do I Know Which Korean number System to Use?
The two systems are used at different times and for different purposes. One system will be used at a given time, depending on the purpose of communication. The only exception where the two systems are mixed is for telling time. We say the hours using the Native Korean numbers and the minutes using the Sino-Korean numbers!
Also, since the Native Korean numbers system only goes up to 99, it’s used for any number 100 or greater by default. It’s a very useful system!
On the other hand, the Native Korean numbers system is used for counting things and people, age, time (hours), and for counting in general!
For now, that’s your next mission — to count in Korean using the first set of numbers in the Native Korean numbers system.
How do you say zero in Korean numbers?
There are two different versions of "zero" for Korean numbers.
The first is 공 (gong), and the second is 영 (yeong) and is used with the Sino-Korean numbers.
You'll use the 공 (gong) version of zero for things like phone numbers. For example:
You'll use the 영 (yeong) version of zero for things like math, temperature, and sports. It is part of the Native Korean number system. If you visit Korea during the winter, you may be surprised to hear that the weather report is 영하십도 (yeonghasipdo | minus 10 degrees)!
On occasion, you may also hear the Konglish version of zero, which is 제로 (jero).
Korean Numbers 1 to 10
All these numbers doing a number on you? Don’t worry!
Though you only had to memorize 17 words using the Sino-Korean numbers system to be able to count to a billion, it should be reassuring to know that you need to learn even less to know the whole Native Korean numbers!
In fact, knowing only a few of the numbers, in the beginning, will allow you to do the majority of what you’ll need to do with this system, so start slow and focus first on memorizing the numbers 1-4.
When you’re feeling ambitious, move all the way up to 10.
To get started, let’s take a look at the numbers 1-10 in the Korean System.
Go ahead and start committing this set of Korean numbers to memory.
They are slightly more complex than the Sino-Korean numbers system with more than half of them having two syllables.
You may wish to use a peg system or create visual associations for easier memorization of the numbers. Or, you may have a system of your own!
Can you think of any possible links for the numbers to English words you already know? How about a “duel” for 2 (둘 | dul)? A “hobbit” swinging on a vine for 9 (아홉 | ahop)? Be creative and make some associations. It helps!
Memorize the most critical numbers 1-4 first, then move on to the rest. When you get there, move on to the next section.
But before you do, go reward yourself for your hard work.
Ordering in Shops
By knowing just the first number, you can now order something and properly indicate how many of that item you want! This will help tremendously with learning Korean since it will get you talking.
Need a caffeine boost? Head to the nearest coffee shop such as Starbucks, walk up to the barista and say:
“아이스 아메리카노 하나 주세요 (aiseu amerikano hana juseyo).”
Please give me one iced Americano.
If you’re a latte drinker, it doesn’t matter! Order your favorite drink, and add in the number (eg.,하나 | hana) afterward to indicate how many you want.
This is one major reason we need the Korean system — these numbers help us count and indicate how many of something we want!
The Rest of the Numbers
Once you have the numbers 1-10 down, the rest is easy.
Just like the Sino-Korean System, we combine the numbers to create the numbers 11-19. In this sense, 11 is literally “ten one”, 12 is “ten two” and so on.
Knowing this, it should be easy. Try to write the numbers 11-19 now.
As a review, also write that set of numbers using the Sino-Korean System.
Practicing them side-by-side as you’re learning them makes it easier to understand the structure of the numbers and also makes it less likely you’ll mix them up in real-life scenarios later on.
Copy the following chart down and get started writing!
Instructions: Write the Korean numbers in words using both systems.
|Number||China System||Korea System|
|Number||China System||Korea System|
Things work really similar to the Sino-Korean numbers, don’t they?
However, unlike the Sino-Korean numbers, the Native Korean numbers have unique names for each multiple of ten, starting from twenty.
But as we previously mentioned, you don’t need to memorize them all! You will rarely (if ever) come across the higher numbers, and a lot of Koreans are switching to using the Sino-Korean numbers for the numbers higher than 30 anyway.
Twenty and thirty are still common, though, so you should commit them to memory! Here’s the word for twenty:
Give this a try yourself! Once you have the number memorized, you just add the ones digit to the end to form the appropriate number between 21-29. For example:
21 = 20 (스물 | seumul) + 1 (하나 | hana) ➜ 스물하나 (seumulhana)
22 = 20 (스물 | seumul) + 2 (둘 | dul) ➜ 스물둘 (seumuldul)
23 = 20 (스물 | seumul) + 3 (셋 | set) ➜ 스물셋 (seumulset)
...and so on!
Next, let’s learn “thirty” using the Native Korean numbers. You may need it from time to time! Here it is:
Counting in the thirties is just the same as we previously learned: Just tack on the ones digit at the end and you’re all set!
31 = 30 (서른 | seoreun) + 1 (하나 | hana) ➜ 서른하나 (seoreunhana)
32 = 30 (서른 | seoreun) + 2 (둘 | dul) ➜ 서른둘 (seoreundul)
33 = 30 (서른 | seoreun) + 3 (셋 | set) ➜ 서른셋 (seoreunset)
...all the way up to 39!
Learning the rest of the numbers is really not necessary, but there really aren’t too many more to go. Remember, the Native Korean numbers only go up to 99!
But we use the Native Korean numbers to indicate our age as well, and that’s another one of the times you’ll use it on a regular basis! As you know, age is extremely important in Korean society.
The only larger number you may wish to learn is the tens digit for your age if you are older than 39 (or are soon to be, in which case we wish you an early happy birthday)!
Here are the numbers for your knowledge.
That’s it! You can fill in the gaps by using the ones digits to create all of the other numbers.
It’s nice when the counting system only goes up to 99, isn’t it?
Just recall that two major uses for this system will be to say our age and to count things.
So as a final test, say your age in Korean using the Korean System of numbers!
When to use Sino Korean and Native Korean Numbers
Now that we know the Korean numbers and how to count in Korean, it's just a matter of knowing when to use which system of numbers. We've given a brief overview of when they're used in this lesson.
In general, we use the Native Korean numbers system for things like saying your age and counting in Korean. It is also used for talking about the number of people.
We use the Sino-Korean numbers system most often for things like the date, a period of time, distance, and money. For telling time, a combination of the Native Korean and Sino-Korean systems would be used.
How do you say "numbers" in Korean?
There are a few different words for "numbers" in Korean. It depends on the usage or the situation.
The word for "numbers" in Korean is 숫자 (sutja). The word 번 (beon) can be used to talk about things like "number of times" or "number of tries".
You can also use 번호 (beonho) to refer to things like phone numbers or passwords. The word 번지 (beonji) is used for street numbers on a house, while 호 (ho) is used to refer to an apartment number.
Another word used for "number" is 수 (su). You can express number of something by adding the word 수 (su) after a noun. For example, 직원 수 (jigwon su) for "number of staff" and 승객 수 (seunggaek su) for "number of passengers."
Learning Korean numbers will become second nature once you start adding them to your daily life. They will be especially helpful if you visit Korea or want to start understanding K-dramas without subtitles. Combine numbers with common Korean words and phrases, and you'll be well on your way to having conversations in Korean!
If you're ready to take things to the next level, you may wish to join our Inner Circle Korean language Web Course where we give you weekly lessons, accountability, personal coaching, and live monthly training to keep you motivated along the way to learning the Korean language!
We hope this lesson was valuable to you! Let us know your favorite Korean numbers (written in Korean of course) in the comments below.