16 In Others / General

How I feel about reading Korean books

I’m at the stage where I can understand novels but there’s still quite a number of unfamiliar words. So these days I’m super torn between two choices: Should I just read through and skip the unfamiliar words and come back to it later? Should I read it slowly, using the dictionary as I go and writing down the vocabulary in my notebook?

It’s not like I can’t understand the story without checking the dictionary. I can, just that I’ll have to skip some of the extra description and minor details at times.

But there’s a nagging feeling in me that I should aim to understand EVERY SINGLE WORD and hence I’ll check the dictionary.

But a good book makes me want to read on and find out more, instead of checking the dictionary every now and then.

Internal struggle.

This is totally how I feel about reading Jeon Woo Chi right now. 😀 😀 I think it’s gonna be my favorite novel, although it’s not like I read many Korean novels. I think I may like it a little more compared to 우행시. The writing styles are completely different, but I really enjoy Jeon Woo Chi’s small descriptions of each character, their movements etc. I feel like I can picture the scene in my mind. 😀

And I love the language.

‘허허 이놈아. 설마가 사람 잡는다는 말도 못 들어보았느냐? 잔말하지 말고 나를 한번 잡아 보거라’


I usually (never) don’t count, but today I learnt around 50 new vocabulary so far! hahaha. So random.


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  • Reply
    19 October, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    Personally, I don’t even look up the ENGLISH words I don’t know – I trust context clues! I try to read the novel through once and then go back and focus on the words I don’t know. Or if I see one word repeating over and over again, I’d look it up, even if it’s not hindering my understanding of the story (that’s how I learned 중얼거리다 – apparently EVERYONE was muttering something under their breath in one of the books I was reading XD).

    • Reply
      20 October, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      hahaha me too for English and Chinese! but somehow i feel a need to be more precise in Korean. HAHA and that’s totally random. XD

  • Reply
    19 October, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    As somebody who’s been reading books way above their level in any language they ever learned (including “reading” books in English because I even know how to read hehe), I almost never look up words.
    Basically, the minute I start looking up words, I get bored and stop reading. So, I’ll wait until I’ve seen a word several times before looking up – or jsut find a word that I’m curious about. But never, every single word I need.
    And epsecially now, I read on the subway and have no way to look up words. So I just plow through.

    • Reply
      20 October, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      i’m doing it both ways now XD love reading in a new language!

  • Reply
    19 October, 2012 at 10:27 PM

    I had the same problem when I started to “master” English enough to read books… I choose to go without the dictionnary except when I REALLY needed it or when I WANTED to be extra precise in understanding a paragraph or a sentence. Sure you miss out things but in the long term you gain and learn a lot. Plus it’s more enjoyable.

    • Reply
      20 October, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      hahaha i’m like doing it both ways, reading it like I’ll do for any novel and then doing a second more detailed reading. XD that book’s so good I don’t feel bored reading it twice

  • Reply
    19 October, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    There’s a Jeon Wu Chi 전우지 영화 right? I don’t know if it’s good though!

    • Reply
      20 October, 2012 at 1:00 PM


  • Reply
    Lucie D
    21 October, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    Personally I would do it according to how I feel – maybe check the meaning of words on second read? I actually got a Korean novel and I plan to read it with the help of a dictionary. (Am I being too ambitious? Not sure, but I assume it will take me over a year to work my way through the book).
    When I come across a word I don’t know I just write in on a piece of paper and look it up later and try to figure out things from context. However when I was going through my list of 24 “unknown” words on Friday, I found out that about 6 of those words I actually knew the meaning of (but for some reason didn’t figure the meaning out when I saw them before) and another 4 or 5 words, I realised I looked them up in the dictionary previously and I just couldn’t remember their meaning. Memory is a strange thing.

    • Reply
      22 October, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      being ambitious is good! i got my first korean book without even knowing what the title really says XD haha memory is indeed strange, sometimes I highlight a word and then forget about it. When I do a second reading a few hours later, I realize I actually know the word.

  • Reply
    21 October, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    I do this same thing too! If I’m reading something in another language, I get this feeling that tells me I should write down all the words I don’t understand/look them up later/learn them. I l want to read through it without stopping to look stuff up too though so I always feel torn. XD I the best plan is to read normally, but use a pencil to mark words you don’t know and then look them up later. After that, re-read the part/chapter or re-read the book some time after learning the words and see how much you retained. I came up with this on the spot… I shall try it. 😀

    • Reply
      22 October, 2012 at 12:05 PM

      that’s a great method 😀 will try it out too XD thanks!

  • Reply
    4 November, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    I have a tendency to dismiss words I do not know when reading online because I hate ‘wasting time’ looking for the meaning of the words in a dictionary when I can guess the meaning through context. I’m more ‘strict’ with myself when it comes to reading novels because I want to fully understand everything. But the thing is, I never really get to read novels (still can’t get past chapter 1 the last time I tried). Anyway, this ‘bad habit’ got me during topik’s reading section when everything must be comprehended. I guess at my current level, it’s still better to check the meanings of words since there are still a a whole lot that I don’t know. But probably, eventually, I can read Korean novels/writings like how I read English – even if I don’t really understand each and every word (to the point of being able to explain/translate them) but it doesn’t affect my understanding and enjoyment of the novel.

    • Reply
      5 November, 2012 at 11:32 AM

      ㅋㅋㅋ same here! i’m more lax when reading online articles. Especially if I am reading the article for the content, not just reading practice. But these days I’m reading a novel and I do two readings. First is just to enjoy the content, and second is the more detailed reading. I won’t check the dictionary for the 1st time, unless there is a recurring word that is hindering the progress of my reading ^^

  • Reply
    10 May, 2015 at 5:16 AM


    Can i ask about your favorite Taiwanese book ?
    And book about vampire ?

    • Reply
      12 May, 2015 at 9:26 AM

      I love everything by the author 九把刀! The vampire series I was talking about was his 獵命師 series (:

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