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[REVIEW] New Korean Dictionary: 한국어기초사전

First things first. Happy Hangeul Day! 

The National Institute of the Korean Language (국립국어원) has been working on a new online Korean dictionary and the trial / beta version has just been released on KST 3pm today. Being the avid Korean lover, I was super exctied accessed the site immediately and will now offer my opinions.


First things first. This was what I saw on the site in the morning. My first thoughts: erm okay why is the announcement in Korean… never mind. ohh it’s a 기초 사전, might be oriented towards Korean beginners or an emphasis on building the right foundations. COOL. 

This was what greeted me when the site opened at 3pm KST. My thoughts?

In what way is a site entirely in Korean appropriate to being ‘meant for foreigners’???!! Firstly, like some others on Twitter, I don’t see a point of specifying 외국인을 위한. If you do that, sure, I expect to see ENGLISH or other foreign languages. Nope. Then in what way is it meant for us? And what’s with making it a 한국어-한국어 사전? I totally expected a Kor-Eng and Eng-Kor dictionary.

I seriously think the dictionary / site is a little confused about what kind of crowd/users it want to attract.

1. foreigners need English/foreign languages on the site. But it’s in Korean!

2. 기초 사전 means it should be a Eng-Kor dictionary. It’s not!

3.Everything is in Korean. Okay I believe you are trying to attract the foreign learners. So are you trying to attract only the 고급 Korean learners? Erm, so why is it 기초 사전? o.O

I’mm so confused, it’s starting to affect my writing and this review O.o


It doesn’t help that the instructions for using the dictionary is entirely in Korean. Hello, how many foreigners can read that? If I can (which I do), I’ll be using the 국어사전 in Naver. What’s the point of having an additional service? I’m amused that they have 3 level of searches: 간단히 찾기, 자세히 찾기, 고급 찾기.

I got quite excited when they said that you can search with * in front or behind a word, so that the results will include entries that contain start or end with the word. For example, searching *나무 will lead you to 가시나무. And any other words/phrases ending with 나무. But if you search with a ?, it restricts the number of characters. (I don’t even understand myself… ) For example, searching ??나무 means you are finding a 4 character word that end with 나무. Get it?

I thought it was a cool function on this dictionary, until I tried it out on Naver Dictionary and it also works there. -.- #cheated

The site allows you to sign up for the service. What for? I don’t know. Probably just to use the 단어장 function. But I have no interest in keeping track or making a vocabulary list. But for the sake of reviewing the site, I signed up.

#everythinginkorean There we go again.

Perhaps you should realize that not many foreigners will have a Korean email address. #justsaying

Time to test out the dictionary!

I typed in 쟁이. Okay, not bad.

Nothing much for the Kor-Eng dictionary on Naver..

Typed in 쟁이 for the 국어사전 in Naver and it gives the following. A lot more meanings than the new dictionary. The new dictionary only focuses on 쟁이 as the first meaning, completely ignoring some of the other meanings it apparently has. Is that why they call it a 기초사전? LOL.

Although clicking the first link doesn’t give many examples of ~쟁이 in that usage, doing the following helps. 122 entries turned up. In the ENGLISH-KOREAN DICTIONARY. I think foreigners will appreciate the English explanations a lot more. ^^

But I do give it credit that there are so many examples given in the 갓난쟁이 entry, only a few in the Kor-kor Naver dictionary, and it’s not even searchable in the Kor-Eng Naver dictionary.


hahahaha 자세히 찾기. MMM. One day I might find a need to search for something in just great uhm detail, but not now. ^^;; I don’t see it being a very useful function for most foreigners, correct me if I’m wrong. The linguistic student in me knows all the terms in the picture, but I highly doubt that other learners will actually know what a 의존 명사 or something like that is.

Now, let’s try searching for proverbs okay? I’m only comparing this new dictionary with the 국어사전 in Naver because, what’s the point of comparing a kor-kor dictionary with a eng-kor dictionary? #totallydifferent

So I’m not that interested whether the proverb will actually show up on the 영어사전 (Kor-Eng/Eng-Kor) in Naver. FYI it does 

And this new dictionary? NOTHINGGGGGGGGG

Wow this is such a long review. But my conclusion? Just stick with the Eng-Kor Naver dictionary if you are a beginner/low intermediate and switch to the Naver 국어사전 when you feel more confident.

Seriously, I find it so hard to review this 기초사전 when I don’t even know what to base it against. Should I rate it based on what I expect from a dictionary meant for foreigners, or should I compare it with the Kor-Kor dictionary in Naver? I don’t know. The fact that it’s a Kor-Kor dictionary makes it so.. flawed.

It’s a beta version, so I shall cut it some slack. But seriously, I am very curious on the team that is behind this project. I appreciate a new dictionary and a new learning resource. I seriously think that there is a need and demand for a good Kor-Eng / Eng-Kor dictionary for the Korean learners and I applaud the effort to create it. Creating a dictionary is no mean feat and I can only the imagine the manpower and effort put into this. But there is a need to differentiate yourself from the other established online dictionaries out there. You need to know who your targeted users are, and try to understand their needs. Is there a foreigner in the project team? Or did you ask for opinions from any Korean learners? I suggest you hire one.

The site has a feedback section. 의견제시. I may write in something. In Korean.

p.s. oh, and I’m sticking to my Naver dictionary ^^ …. for now. I’ll be keeping an eye on this new dictionary. Hopefully it will get better.

Any thoughts?? 

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  • Reply
    9 October, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    I laughed so hard through this review. You’re right – this site and service fails to cater to the audience it was designed for. Great job pointing out its weaknesses.

    • Reply
      9 October, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      Hope it will improve. Making a dictionary is no easy feat and it will be a shame if the effort is wasted.

  • Reply
    9 October, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    awww….. I thought it will be a good one… The Kor-Kor immediately make me lose my interest to explore it. ><
    Will stick back to Naver. Great review! Anticipating new "good" feature if there is any other development on this dic.. =]

    • Reply
      9 October, 2012 at 5:27 PM

      I’ll be keeping my eye on it

  • Reply
    9 October, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I still prefer daum dic anyway 🙂
    Would you mind doing a review for an online Japanese-English dictionary too?
    I have been using it for quite some time and find it really useful.Hopefully it can help your Japanese learning too ^^

    • Reply
      9 October, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      Thanks for sharing!!! Will check it out and do a review 😀

  • Reply
    9 October, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    There you go again writing Korean stuff without telling us what they meant… O.O

    • Reply
      9 October, 2012 at 9:46 PM

      haha sometimes it’s more effective to learn if you read and check out out the words that is unfamiliar to you on the dictionary. ^^ It will help you remember them. If you really can’t understand something, leave a comment and I’ll try to help!

  • Reply
    9 October, 2012 at 8:37 PM

    Thank you! Very helpful review. Looks like I’ll be sticking to the good ol’ Naver myself
    With regard to your leaving comments on their page? Just cut and paste your entry! Haha… if it is meant for foreigners, they should at least be prepared to read the comments in English yeah…

    • Reply
      9 October, 2012 at 9:46 PM

      hehe! I was nice and sent them something in Korean 😛 hopefully it will get better soon! It’s a worthy and interesting project ^^

  • Reply
    10 October, 2012 at 2:04 AM

    For me at least, I understood the new dictionary’s definition of 쟁이, but the Naver kor-kor one had some words in it I didn’t understand.

    And I don’t see the point in them making a Kor-Eng one. The Naver one already works fine for that, so I like that they are offering something that isn’t already out there.

    thanks for sharing. I will try using it. 🙂

  • Reply
    10 October, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Wow. I’m kinda surprised they did that and at the same time, kinda not surprised. I’ve seen some sites that were all, “come here foreigner we’re a great way for you to start learning Korean!” Then when you get to the site you’re drowning in Korean. It gave me another reason to keep studying, but didn’t really do anything other than that. XD It just made me a little sad, haha. Your review had me laughing. I would’ve written it the same way. “Oh look, MORE things they think foreigners will understand.” In the long run, yes. In the beginning…. XDDD Nope. I’m sticking with the Daum and Naver dictionaries. (I feel weird trying to abbreviate “dictionaries”…. dicts? WTH? Sounds weird to pronounce. It takes too much effort. XD)

  • Reply
    11 October, 2012 at 11:51 PM

    I guess it would be useful to upper-intermediate and fluent Korean speakers however for beginner’s, it’s not helpful at all other than to practice reading Hangeul. I appreciate your review and it really made me laugh 🙂

  • Reply
    4 November, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    Haha! I don’t care much about this new dictionary since I sooo love dear old Naver. But I do love discovering the * and the ?? functions!!!! Thank you!!!!!

    • Reply
      5 November, 2012 at 11:32 AM

      glad it’s of help!

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