Rapping to learn Korean..

How do you learn your korean? For me I memorize rap. Haha. I’m the kind of person who can’t let my mind go blank because I associate thinking about nothing kind of degenerative, so I have this nervous habit of memorize chunks of stuff to recite back when I’m bored/nervous and just want to engage my mind in something to calm myself down.

Why & How did I begin?

I didn’t start off with rap immediately. In fact, I memorized drama lines. Which turned into a 5 min soliloquy. For example, for some reason, I just committed to memorizing this for instance:

Then it came chunks of japanese lines from anime and dramas.. (from my Olddddd blog).

I realize I just am fascinated with foreign sounds and I like mimicking them, swirling the sounds back and forth like my own exclusive wine tasting, except with sounds. Even for Korean, what’s more important than actually learning it was that I was such a stickler for pronunciation. So fun when you sound like a native when you’re faking it! So I guess progressing to lyrics was naturally inevitable. However, I liked challenges, so instead of the simple ballads, I opted for rap.

Where to begin?

I began the obsession with Kpop (mostly Beast’s material). Embarrassed to say, but their raps are usually one small portion, easy enough to pick up. From being most excited about the melody in the past, I became more excited about the raps. Then I moved to actual hip hop music. That’s where it actually got really tough. One thing I like about raps was that the content is definitely much more difficult than most mainstream songs. You could very well get stuff like politics, dissent towards the economy, hardships, instead of your usual ‘oh you break my heart and I’m so sad and you’re gone what am I gonna do woe is me this is terrible let me sing to you so maybe you’ll come back boohoo’ 😛

But in all honesty, the benefits are plenty:

  1.  you have to practice again and again and again and again and again x200, so might as well be drilling tougher words into your vocab right?
  2. If it’s your favorite song, what funner way to enjoy than to repeat it many times?
  3. You’ll actually find out what it means yourself. No need to rely on translations. Hardcore. (Okay maybe initially, you still need to rely on them)
  4. The vocabs you learn will be 훨씬 difficult than regular kpop! (For example, Zico taught me 약육강식의법칙 (law of the jungle)
  5. You’ll be reading a lot of hangeul, which will familiarize your eyes with speed faster reading of hangul, and thus making wall of text less intimidating.
  6. You no longer have to deal with poser fake HANGOOLS
    ‘geurimja cheoreom hangsang hamkkaeyeottdeon ‘ <– isn’t this just UGLY?
    그림자처럼 항상 함께였던 = PRETTY;
    Areumdaun ni misoga bichudeon = UGLY,
    아름다운 네 미소가 날 비추던 = PRETTY
  7. In a strange way, it will build your confidence & help pronunciation with similar sounding words
  8. It will help you with your sense of rhythm.
  9. Appreciate your Oppars and Unnirs for memorizing this lyrics too
  10. You can be the kid who doesn’t just sing the chorus and go silent when the rap portion comes on.

How can you do it too?

Start small. Obviously, if you’re still struggling with even recognizing hangul, then learn hangul first, and some standard grammar and vocabs. When you can slowly grasp and identify pretty quickly how to read each letter, then you’re ready to begin!

Find the lyrics to your fav song. It’s often readily, easily, available, unless you have eccentric taste in music that’s so sidestream and obscure..

You don’t have to start off with hardcore music. You can pick something relaxing too:

then find the lyrics. preferably one with hangul and translation (it’s a preview of ‘HERE’S WHAT I’LL BE LEARNING! :D), none of that romanized shit. One tip is to search the keywords of whatever song you want + 가사. 90% of the time it will yield korean lyrics.

CHORUS (original from here)

그렇게 살고있겠죠 시간흐른뒤엔
I will be living like that after time passes

다른 사람 만나 사랑한다 말하고
I’ll meet someone else and say I love you

하지 못한 말들과 내 아쉬움 (regret) 들은 날려보내고(let fly, set free)
I’ll cast away the words I couldn’t say and my sadness

Then you may choose to print it, so you can look at it any time, write your own romanization (but try not to!) and markers like where to breathe, stop, which part is faster etc.  But try to identify the words inside, so you can see how the individual words get translated into the final lyrics/ which words differed in the final translation.

This is the skeleton of how I do it, just keep upping the difficulty. The following is a guide of how I suggest you carry out this activity:



The end goal is for you to be able to recite it back with the song, and understand what the heck you are singing. As for repetition, it helps with pronunciation. For rap music, it can be very fast. At such times, it will be best to slow the music down. I use winamp, so I use an addon called the Pacemaker for times when it is simply too fast to hear what he or she is saying. Slow the music down by changing the tempo.


It’s okay! Small victories. If you come to a part where you just simply cannot remember, practise until you can look at it and follow with the music at least. If not, it’s okay, keep trying. One thing I found helps is to practice before bed. The next day, it will somehow be easier.


Listen to the rhythm first, without caring about the words. After you roughly get the idea of how each beat is gonna go, then slowly start filling it in with the words, then try it out again. Practise practise practise!


Yes it does. It took me months to memorize Zico’s ‘Battle Royal’ because it was so damn fast, and because i refused to cave in to romanization. Took me coupla months to learn Zico’s ‘Attention’ too. and ‘Dead President’ and Epik High’s ‘Noise’. San E’s ‘Wish you to be unhappy’ was much easier cos it’s romance, but Zico’s stuff are never romantic haha.  Basically, understand that these are like projects. Small victories at a time, small victories. When you’re done, it’s so satisfying to rap along with them.


Practice makes perfect, friend. You have to introduce your eyes to korean. Make it seem friendly. Wall of text seems intimidating, but if you do it in small bits, it’s easier. Trust me.


Hey, rapping is like speaking fast but with style (k more than that, but you aren’t holding concerts). If you sound terrible, just don’t do it in front of other people. Think of it as practice!


Woah, I didn’t promise I’ll turn you into an amazing rapper, I’m introducing a new method of korean language training. Some people just don’t have amazing voices, no matter how much we practice. I don’t have a great rap/singing voice either, but I still love music!


You can try google translate. Just put source language as korean, click the speaker to listen to it.


Then I cannot help you. 😦 Maybe you can try practising with reading articles or books instead.


Then maybe finally, you can be dope and do something like this:

Zico live – Battle Royal

Zico Original – Battle Royal


7 thoughts on “Rapping to learn Korean..

  1. ” Wall of text seems intimidating, but if you do it in small bits, it’s easier.”

    That was an interesting post. I’ve been wondering an efficient method of learning through music for when I include that into my repertoire. Next week, I’m going to give Shinwa “this love” to practice using your techniques. I look forward to it!

    • “WE LIVE FOR THISSSSSSSSSSSSSS LOVE!!” All the best! I always laugh at Andy’s rap in that song, he does it so funny XD

      And I love shinhwa too! 😀 The most efficient method, would be to do it in short bursts, going through a short phrase over and over until you get it, till the end of each paragraph, then wait till the next day, repeat and go through what you’ve learnt, until eventually the whole song is learnt! Works for me this way 😀

      • Thank you so much for this post! I’m not sure if you already know this but Shadowing is a famous technique by a polyglot Alexander Arguelles who also knows Korean https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=130bOvRpt24

        I was hoping to use this technique but with rap! My blog is just for motivation for learning KR, and it’s not really that helpful 🙂 but I put one of my short term goals to write my own rap! This post is very inspirational. Thank you so much!

      • Shadowing does help. Repetition helps more. The more you listen and follow after, the more accurate you can sound, but only in that song, so you still gotta keep in mind to reference that word you hear in that song to everyday sentences you hear on TV, for example. The reason being that if you don’t constantly remind yourself that what you’re shadowing are actual words with meanings, it can end up feeling like learning to beat box, where you just get the sound down, and repeat it forever without having much of a meaning. So a good way is to take a rap song, break it down, try to get the flow of the rhythm, follow along and learn some words that trip you up (especially those), memorize it, get fluent, break it down again and learn the rest of the words you thought were easy and try rapping it again, except this time after understanding what it means, and putting appropriate emotions into it, so you can associate the words with the appropriate emotions, which hopefully helps you remember it even better. If not, take out those vocab, put it in a phone notepad widget so you see it when you turn your phone on.. that’s what I try to do anyway 🙂

  2. Pingback: Korean Conversation with The Kingdom of the Wind | Dreams of Asia
  3. Pingback: How To Learn Korean Rap | Boxing Khmer

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