Sungkyunkwan campus Korean textbook for foreigners
Self studying Korean

I ordered new Korean textbook for beginners

I ordered a new Korean textbook.

Based my choice on nothing other than the picture on the cover.

I think this is the first time I bought something without researching it first. I’m usually petrified I’ll make the wrong choice, but I also enjoy the process of choosing. Those two factors are reasons why I can spend weeks scrutinizing every feature of what I’m going to buy. So much so that a lot of times I give up on buying it altogether.

But when I do order something, I get triple enjoyment out of it: choosing it, receiving it and finally using it.

I am so meticulous in selecting what I’m going to buy that everyone around me suffers. By the time I make my decision they also know all the pros and cons, whether they wanted to know or not (they didn’t).

And choosing the right language textbook is especially important. If I am to improve my Korean I need to spend countless hours focusing on nothing but the textbook. A good textbook can make studying enjoyable and motivate me. A bad textbook can make me hate studying.

That makes it even more shocking that I ordered this one so flippantly. Oh, and did I mention I needed a next level book after I finished my first Korean beginner textbook?

Well this is also a beginner textbook!

I have no idea what’s inside it. How are the lessons organized? I have no idea. Is it meant for self-studying Korean or for language course setting? No idea. Will most of the book be dedicated to Hangul, which I learned a long time ago?

Not a clue!

This Korean textbook is so new (published 3 weeks ago!) that no amount of Googling, Navering, scouring through hashtags on Instagram and Pinterest gave me any information on it. There are no reviews. How do you buy something that has no reviews!?

So why did I buy it?

The cover.

Korean textbook with people dressed in traditional Sung Kyun Kwan scholar uniform

Look at the cover!

성균관 유생들!

*Heavy breathing*

I have, sort of, kind of, been obsessed with Sungkyunkwan for a while (guess what started the obsession, lol). I read a lot about it and was already impressed by the history of this ancient Korean educational institution but when I found out that the campus housed the first ever library in Korea (존경각 Jongyeonggak, built in 1475) my love was sealed. Libraries and textbooks have a special place in my heart.

Photo of first Korean library Jongyeonggak 존경각Sungkyunkwan library Jongyeonggak;

Photo by Junganghansik – Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Ok now that I’m done fangirling over an ancient building, back to the book. I do know a few technical details about this book:

It’s called Sungkyun Korean, or 성균 한국어. There are actually two textbooks for the first level: Vocabulary • Grammar, which is the one I ordered, and Listening • Speaking • Reading • Writing, which is the one I will also get if the former one impresses me enough and if I recover enough to be able to listen and write.

The book is large format and has almost 300 pages. I think it has 14 lessons in total, and they say it has 10 vocabulary items and about 5 grammatical principles per lesson (the textbook I have right now has more vocabulary and less grammar so hopefully I will find enough grammar which I don’t yet know despite them being the same level).

It has an 모범 답안, but I think that’s not even a full answer key, just examples of how answers should be. So why did I buy it?

It might be geared towards Sungkyunkwan Korean language course and not self-studying. So why did I buy it?

I probably already know most of Korean that’s inside it. So why did I buy it?


Overwhelming, irresistible curiosity. I need to see what Sungkyun book looks like inside.

Curiosity killed the cat.

But the satisfaction brought it back.

It’s going to be a surprise when it arrives in a few weeks. I hope it’s a pleasant one.

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