Handbook of the Korean Language

Book Summary:

The Handbook is a solid and in-depth introduction to the complete Korean language and its grammar, as well as a reference guide to be consulted as needed.  Everything you should need is very clearly laid out, with over 50 tables and lists, as well as an index.  Plenty of examples are provided as well.

This book represents an effort of around five years of part-time research, study, and writing by the author.  In addition to assembling and organizing large amounts of accurate – and current – information from nearly countless sources, Mr. McDonough has also striven to describe the Korean Language in clear, engaging prose.

Although written with beginning and intermediate learners in mind, even advanced users should find this handy book quite useful.  Some of this data is very hard to find in any reference source (in English, anyways) and this book is much more accessible than others written by native Korean authors, professional linguists, academics, and the like.

Naturally, explaining a foreign language requires some grammar terminology.  However, this has been minimized and all terms are clearly explained in simple language, and also defined in a convenient glossary at the beginning of the book.

This is the only book of its kind written in English currently available, and the only book that contains such a well-organized and useful collection of information.  Part of its unique value is in the author’s careful editing and the exclusion of a lot of older, rarer ‘legacy’ grammar material that tends to haunt many Korean books.  Further aiding the user, notes about frequency and general usefulness are included in many places.

In addition to being a self-contained educational resource, the Handbook would nicely complement classroom study as well as the various textbooks on the market.  Lastly, this might be a useful tool for Korean natives studying English.


I strongly recommend the paperback edition, available on Amazon at: here

There is also a Kindle edition, also on Amazon at that same link, HOWEVER: the Kindle edition has layout problems on some smaller devices due to the many structured tables in the book, and is not recommended.  If you do buy the Kindle edition, and it looks bad, I will personally send you the original PDF, which I know looks fine on small screens such as a smartphone or tablet, in a standard PDF viewer or web browser.  Kindle versions are not standard PDF format, and the translation provided by Amazon is currently problematic.

If you want to purchase the PDF file directly from me ($10 U.S. or 14,000KRW), or you want to make a bulk purchase of the paperback for a bookstore, school, club, or whatever, we can work something out.  As the author, I can get volume discounts from Amazon on the book for such purposes.  I would consider meeting with the owner of a bookstore or school personally to discuss such an arrangement.

Email me at:


I can accept payment via Paypal (use my email address), a bank transfer, or just mail me the money~ (not a problem!)

The small (1.6 MB) PDF file is the source of the book itself, including the index and page numbers, but I still suggest going with the paperback.

About The Author:

Mr. McDonough spent many years in South Korea and countless hours studying Korean.  He has read over two dozen books on the language, most of the websites out there, and has worked with over 100 language partners, and had private tutoring here and there.  This book was started from a huge pile of notes, and took a few years.  During the course of writing it, countless resources were referenced and cross-referenced, and many people’s advice was sought (including native speakers, other authors, and western academic experts in the field).

The author has also written a book about, and entitled, Superlight Backpacking, and is just finishing another one on Texas Hold’em Poker (working title: Thinkin’ About No-Limit).  Besides Korean, poker, and backpacking, his many other interests and pasttimes include rock climbing, mountaineering, cooking, software and computer technology, and he still hopes to eventually get back into fishing, surfing, painting, poetry, electronic music production, ….and he has just at this very moment realized that there aren’t near enough hours in a day.  :-]

Feel free to send me any questions.  Thanks for reading this.