Mastering Korean Numbers: Counting from 1 to 100 in Korean Made Easy

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Counting in Korean might appear daunting at first, but don't worry – it's a gratifying and relatively simple facet of the language. In your initial Korean lessons, you'll tackle the unique names for each number from one to ten. However, as we delve into counting beyond ten, you'll discover a logical and efficient system. It's worth noting that Korea has two distinct number systems: native Korean numbers and Sino-Korean numbers.Korean employs native numbers for counting items, indicating age, and expressing time. Conversely, Sino-Korean numbers, influenced significantly by Chinese, find frequent use in more extensive numerical expressions. Today, we'll be focusing on the Mandarin-style Sino-Korean counting, adding an interesting dimension to the learning experience.

The Simplicity of Korean Numbers

Similar to Mandarin, Korean counting has two features that make it more accessible than you might expect:

  1. The first ten numbers are monosyllabic, making them concise and easy to remember.
  2. Numbers beyond ten are constructed by combining the first ten through multiplication and/or addition, simplifying the process.

This user-friendly system has contributed to the success of Korean children in numerical proficiency, particularly in learning to count in Korean from 1. Now, let's embark on our exploration of counting in Korean, using both the Sino-Korean and native Korean number systems!

The Practical Value of Learning Korean Numbers

Investing a few hours in learning how to count in Korean can yield significant benefits, enabling you to:

  • Specify quantities accurately, whether shopping for groceries or making other transactions using the native Korean counting system for numbers 1 to 10.
  • Navigate cultural nuances by avoiding numbers considered unlucky in Korean culture.
  • Make plans confidently, including telling time, scheduling events, and celebrating special occasions.
  • Embrace local slang, including how to count things using easy Korean numbers. as number-related expressions are prevalent in everyday Korean conversations.

Now that you're excited to embark on your Korean counting adventure, let's explore the fundamentals of reading and writing Korean numbers.

Reading and Writing Korean Numbers

Similar to Mandarin, Korean numbers can be expressed using Arabic numerals or Korean characters. For simplicity, single or double-digit numbers often use Arabic numerals, while larger numbers may be a mix of both.

Basic Korean Numbers 1-10

Here are the first ten numbers in Korean:

Number Korean Pronunciation
0 yeong
1 il
2 ee
3 sam
4 sa
5 o
6 yuk
7 chil
8 pal
9 gu
10 sip


Counting in Korean 11-99

Once you've mastered the first ten numbers, extending to 100 becomes a breeze. Using a similar formula to Mandarin:


where 'A is multiplied by 10, and 'B' is added to the result.

Here's a quick illustration:

  • 2×10+3=23 (이십삼 - eesip sam)
  • 5×10+5=55 (오십오 - osip o)
  • 8×10+9=89 (팔십구 - palsip goo)

Remember, you don't need to say 'one' before 'ten' for 11-19, and if the second digit is zero, simply say the first digit followed by 'ten.'

Korean Numbers 11-99

Here's a detailed table of Korean numbers from 11 to 99:

Number Korean Pronunciation
11-19 십 + [1-9] sip + [1-9]
20 이십  eesip
21-29 이십 + [1-9] eesip [1-9]
... ... ...
90 구십  gusip
91-99 구십 + [1-9] gusip + [1-9]

Wrapping Up

Congratulations! You've now embarked on the journey of counting up to 100 and beyond in Korean using both the Sino-Korean and native counting systems. This fundamental skill will significantly enhance your language learning experience, especially in mastering the Korean number system.For further exploration of the Korean language, consider our comprehensive Korean language lessons with a native instructor, available both online and in-person, To learn practical phrases for everyday conversations, one must also learn the numbers in Korean.

Keep up the fantastic work, and happy learning!