[BOOK REVIEW] 살아있는 한국어 – 속담 (Korean Proverbs)

Here’s the first review of a book from the 살아있는 한국어 series! As what I have said in my latest book haul post, this series of books is a must-have especially for those Upper Intermediate to Advanced students. There are three books available and each book focuses on different topics like Korean Proverbs, Korean Idiomatic Expressions and 4-Word Chinese sayings. This post would be a review of the book on Korean Proverbs or 속담 [sok-dam]!

I got this book as a prize for having a “good speech” during our Korean language class last Fall semester. Our Korean teacher asked us to pick three students who delivered good speeches and the chosen students will get prizes. I actually did not expect that I would be included in the list but yeah, I got this Korean Proverbs book for free. ㅋㅋ

Title of the book: 살아있는 한국어 – 속담

Number of Pages: 264

Authors: Kim Seon-jeong, Kim Seong-su, Lee So-hyeon, Jung Jae-yeong

ISBN: 978-89-5518-645-1

Contents: Book (1pc)

Price: 13,000 won ($11.98~; 532.68php)

The 살아있는 한국어 – 속담 book is a compilation of 60 frequently used Korean proverbs. The book aims to help Korean language students to learn/understand the Korean thought and culture through the use of the Korean proverbs. Also, the Korean way of living, leisure culture and emotions or sentiments are reflected in the conversations included in each chapter.

HangulPark's 살아있는 한국어 속담 (Korean Proverbs)

HangulPark’s 살아있는 한국어 속담 (Korean Proverbs)

Each section of this book of proverbs has five parts – Illustration (그림), Conversation (대화), Practice (연습해요), Additional Exercises (함께해요) and Comprehensive Drills (종합연습).

One of the charms of this book are the illustrations. Each lesson starts with an illustration which depicts the meaning of the proverb. I find the drawings of this book really nice because it really gives you an idea about what the proverb is about. Some illustrations have thought bubbles with short sentences using the proverbs.

Illustrations for each chapter

Illustrations for each chapter

Just like other Korean language books, there are also different Korean and foreign characters appearing in the sample conversations. The sample conversations show how the featured proverb is used in a certain situation or context. The featured proverb is highlighted and its meanings are listed below the conversation. The difficulty of the words in each script varies depending on the context. Sometimes I know all the words but sometimes I also encounter unfamiliar words.

Sample Conversation

Sample Conversation

There are also sample sentences and short conversation examples which uses the featured proverb. The short conversation I am referring to are the Ga-Na (가:, 나:) type of conversations which are used by most Korean language books just to give the learners and idea how the grammar/vocabulary word is used. I think these sample sentences are also helpful to further understand the meaning of the proverbs. This book also provides a short list of vocabulary words and grammar points below the extra sample sentences.

Sample Sentences

Sample Sentences

After being more familiar with the featured proverb through sample conversations and sentences, there are review questions in Ga-Na form. It is some sort of fill-in-the-blanks activity wherein all you need to do is to supply the proverb plus its correct form/grammar in order to complete the sentence. There are usually three practice questions- two questions wherein you will supply the proverb and one question wherein the proverb is given and you need to make a sentence which fits the proverb. I think the review questions are helpful to get familiarized with the proverb and they are really easy to answer especially the first two questions.

Sometimes new vocabulary words, grammar points, culture lessons or other additional proverbs with a similar meaning as the featured one are written and discussed below the review questions. The additional points or lessons in each section are really helpful especially if you want to learn new vocabulary words or review some grammar lessons.

Review Questions - Fill in the Blanks

Review Questions – Fill in the Blanks

Each section ends with practice questions or exercises which are sometimes related to the proverb and sometimes not. These practice questions are more difficult because it is not your generic Ga-Na form but a more challenging activity wherein you can put your Korean writing skills into practice. After every 20 lessons, there is also a comprehensive exercise which lets you review the proverbs you have studied previously.

Practice Questions

Practice Questions

Here are the pros and cons of the book:


  • Like other books published in Korea, the quality of the book is A+! The book is a paperback one but the quality of the cover is really good! The pages have this quite glossy quality but very pencil/sign pen/ballpoint pen friendly!
  • The book is not too heavy compared to other language books so you can bring them anywhere and study while waiting for a friend.
  • I’ll also give an A+ for the structure of the lessons because I think it is logically organized.
  • The book is cheap but has good quality and it is packed with useful contents!


  • Unfortunately the book does not come with a CD. I am not saying that since the book does not come with a CD, it is already a big problem. I just think it would be better if they provided a CD with the recordings of the conversations so that the learners would be able to know the proper intonation or pronunciation of the words.

Rating: 5/5!!!!

I think this book is good for self-studying intermediate to advanced students but definitely not for beginners for it does not have any English translations at all. I think one of the reasons why there are no English translations is because it would be difficult to translate these Korean proverbs into English without losing its original meaning. I believe that there are English counterparts of each proverb but I think it is best studied using Korean explanations.

Where to Buy:

I am halfway through the book and I am really loving it! I hope I could finish all the lessons during the summer break so that I can start with the other books from the 살아있는 한국어 series. I hope this post would be of help to those Korean language students who are looking for books on Korean proverbs or those who are looking for supplementary materials^^


2 thoughts on “[BOOK REVIEW] 살아있는 한국어 – 속담 (Korean Proverbs)

  1. I totally fall in love with this book. The book provides the conversation so that we can see how the korean proverbs are used in the practical situation. There are even exercises and cultural notes. It’s a good book to learn korean proverbs.
    By the way, congratulations on having a good speech.

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