## Intro to Korean Numbers and Counting

Welcome to the 100% free “Ultimate Guide to Learning Korean Numbers!”

Want to learn about counting in Korean? Korean counting is easy once you learn these critical Korean numbers.

We hope you’ve got your counting shoes on today, because we’re going to teach you the two Korean number systems faster than you can count from 1 to 1000!

We have some good news and some bad news: the good news is that you will only need to learn around 35-40 numbers to be able to count everything you’ll ever need to count in Korean.

The bad news is *brace yourself* —– we must learn two completely different systems of numbers in Korean and they both have their own uses!

So buckle up and get ready, we’re in for one bumpy ride!

## Two Systems of Korean Numbers

I know what you’re probably thinking — “WHAT?! KOREA HAS TWO NUMBER SYSTEMS?!”

But don’t worry, it’s not all that bad.

To understand why Korea has two number systems, let’s go all the way back to the beginning for a mini history lesson!

Over the years Korea has developed two systems for numbering things. Korea and China have a long history, and the first number system we’ll learn was derived from Chinese characters (though the words themselves are uniquely Korean).

This is a fun and easy system to use because you can count all the way up to a billion and beyond using it and the numbers are quite simple. The numbers from 1-10, plus the numbers for 100, 1000 and even 10,000 are all only one syllable!

## The China System

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call this system the China System. Like China, the number system has a population of well over a billion, and it is like the Great Wall of China — it stretches for many miles, but it is not very high in most places (ie., its numbers don’t have many syllables). It’s beautiful in its simplicity, yet it serves a very important function.

To learn every number you’ll ever need to know in this Korean counting system, you only need to memorize 18 numbers!

That’s right! Learn the numbers 1-10 plus the words for hundred, thousand, ten thousand and a few increments after that and you can create all the other numbers easily through simple combinations.

That should be reassuring. Korean counting isn’t so bad!

Imagine you were learning English for the first time now. You’d have to learn a lot more numbers than you do in Korean, because each multiple of ten has a new name in English.

In Korean, it’s just a matter of simple multiplication.

For example, 10 in Korean is 십. 20 in Korean is literally “two-ten” (이십), 30 is “three-ten” (삼십) and so on.

Likewise, 100 in Korean is 백 while 200 is “two-hundred” (이백) and 300 is “three-hundred” (삼백).

And this pattern continues even up into the billions — just multiply or combine and you’ve got yourself the number you’re looking for!

Knowing how easy it is to create numbers in Korean, your only task becomes to memorize the critical 18 numbers.

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### The Magic 10 Numbers

First, let’s focus on the numbers 1-10, which we like to call “The Magic 10” because once we have them memorized, we can use them to create new numbers out of — just like magic!

Here they are:

English | Korean |
---|---|

ONE | 일 |

TWO | 이 |

THREE | 삼 |

FOUR | 사 |

FIVE | 오 |

SIX | 육 |

SEVEN | 칠 |

EIGHT | 팔 |

NINE | 구 |

TEN | 십 |

There are many ways to memorize these core numbers. One is creating a peg system. This is just one method you may wish to use!

Just make sure to memorize those first 10 numbers before progressing in the lesson! Take your time and memorize them now.

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### The Other 8 Critical Numbers

Got them?

Ok great! Now, equipped with that knowledge, you can make all the numbers from 1-99 through simple combinations. The smaller number always comes first. In other words, it’s “two ten” not “ten two.”

We’re going to learn them as we go, but let’s get a quick preview of what we’re going to learn. Here are the remaining 8 numbers we need to learn to count to a billion and beyond in Korean!

In fact, if we just remember the words for one hundred, one thousand, and ten thousand, we are able to create combinations that create the other numbers.

English | Korean |
---|---|

ONE HUNDRED | 백 |

ONE THOUSAND | 천 |

TEN THOUSAND | 만 |

ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND | 십만 |

ONE MILLION | 백만 |

TEN MILLION | 천만 |

ONE HUNDRED MILLION | 일억 |

ONE BILLION | 십억 |

**Note:** *We’ve added exercises into this** lesson to help with comprehension and it may feel like you’re being pushed into the deep end to fend for yourself, but it’s designed this way! Figuring things out for yourself will actually assist in your comprehension and make it easier for you make the numbers on your own in the future — quickly, easily and without the need for cues. You’ll be asked to use the information we’ve given you to come up with answers before we present them and this will help you retain the information better. These are optional and you may wish to just memorize the numbers we’ve presented to you and move on, but we recommend going through them.*

With that said, let’s get to it!

### Self-Learning Exercises

Give the following exercise a go so you learn for yourself how easy it is to create the larger Korean numbers! Answers are directly below so cover them up before attempting it yourself and only check your answers once you’ve tried.

**Instructions**:* Try to write or say the following numbers in Korean.*

**90**

** 40**

** 60**

** 30**

** 80**

** 50**

**ANSWERS**

*구십*

* 사십*

* 육십*

* 삼십*

* 팔십*

* 오십*

Next, it’s time to up the ante.

To create the numbers in between, just tack on the “ones” digit at the end.

Let’s try some non-rounded numbers for an extra challenge.

**Instructions**:* Try to write or say the following numbers in Korean.*

**26**

** 59**

** 14**

** 91**

** 68**

** 44**

**ANSWERS**

*이십육*

* 오십구*

* 십사*

* 구십일*

* 육십팔*

* 사십사*

Nice work!

As you can see, a pattern emerges for numbers greater than 10 and lower than 100.

First, you write the tens digit, then you write the ones digit. If the number is greater than twenty, then the appropriate number is added in front of the tens digit to indicate.

For example, twenty is 이십 because it is “two tens.” Likewise, thirty is 삼십 because it is “three tens,” and so on.

This makes it easier than English, where we have to memorize a new word for every “ten” less than 100.

But as you begin to count higher and higher, there needs to be a hundreds digit, and we add this in front of the tens digit just as we would in English.

For example:

100 + 23 = 123

Start with the largest number!

If we were writing or saying this number in Korean, we’d start on the left and work our way right, one digit at a time.

The word for “hundred” in Korean is:

### 100 백

Give it a try yourself!

**Instructions**: *Attempt to write the following numbers in Korean before checking the answers.*

**101**

** 888**

** 234**

** 743**

** 654**

** 367**

**ANSWERS**

*백일*

* 팔백팔십팔*

* 이백삼십사*

* 칠백사십삼*

* 육백오십사*

* 삼백육십칠*

**RULE**: If there is no tens digit, you just skip it and write the ones digit.

It is the same as in English. We wouldn’t write “one hundred, zero ten and one,” we just say “one hundred and one.”

The same rules apply in Korean and you just write the numbers as you would in English.

Next, we need to learn the word for a thousand:

### 1000 천

You’re starting to get the hang out this, why don’t you try a few exercises before we continue on? Remember — start on the left and work your way right when breaking down Korean numbers.

**Instructions****:** *Attempt to write the following numbers in Korean before checking the answers.*

**1900**

** 2300**

** 9095**

** 4836**

** 5702**

** 8423**

**ANSWERS**

*천구백*

* 이천삼백*

* 구천구십오*

* 사천팔백삼십육*

* 오천칠백이*

* 팔천사백이십삼*

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Great work! As you can see, you also just skip over the hundreds digit if it is absent.

After that, the next significant number is ten thousand. Actually, this number is very significant in Korean culture.

As you may know, the Korean currency is called the won.

**₩ –>Korean won (원)**

The Korean won comes in 10 000 won increments, and although 50 000 won bills also exist, 10 000 won (만원) bills are by far most commonly used.

Here is the Korean word for ten thousand:

### 10 000 만

Let’s attempt to write some numbers you may possibly hear as the total when making a purchase at a retail store in Korea.

Just follow along with the same pattern we’ve been using, but this time try adding the word “won” (원) at the end to indicate we’re talking about currency.

**Instructions**: *Only check the answers once you’ve tried to write down or say the numbers in Korean.*

**₩ 55 200**

** ₩ 16 000**

** ₩ 20 700**

** ₩ 91 400**

** ₩ 10 000**

** ₩ 49 500**

**ANSWERS**

*오만오천이백원*

* 만육천원*

* 이만칠백원*

* 구만천사백원*

* 만원*

* 사만구천오백원*

**Notice that when it’s one hundred, one thousand, or ten thousand, you don’t need to say “one” in front of the number.** In other words, one hundred won in Korean is 백원 not “일백원.” Likewise, ten thousand won is 만원 not “일만원.”

The tricky part is going above ten thousand.

The higher numbers in Korean (one hundred thousand, a million, ten million, etc.) are calculated in increments of ten thousand.

In the English numbering system, we use thousands: one hundred thousand, ten thousand, and so on. But in Korean, they use ten thousand as the base.

This makes things tricky for native English speakers and Koreans alike to translate higher numbers quickly between the two languages. But equipped with the right 80/20 knowledge, you can do it easily!

As English uses one thousand as the base number, we call the number 100 000 “one hundred thousand.”

In Korean using 10 000 units as a base, we’d call it “ten (십) ten thousand (만).” Makes sense, it’s 10 ten thousand units.

### 100 000 십만

A million would therefore be “one hundred (백) ten thousand (만)” since it’s 100 ten thousand units.

### 1 000 000 백만

Adding another zero would make it “1000 ten thousand units.”

### 10 000 000 천만

### Secret to Success: Count the Zeros

The key is to count the zeros.

Since we are using increments of 10 000, we know there are always four zeros at minimum. **Everything in front of the four zeros is the number we add in front of “만.”**

For example, for 10 000 000, we can take out the four zeros first since we know that indicates “ten thousand (만).” Let’s do that now:

10 000 000

Then, we look at the number that is left over. In this case, it’s 1000:

**10 00**0 000

One thousand in Korean is 천, so it’s 천만. For a non-rounded number, you’d do the same thing!

Try the following exercises. Just take out four zeros, then write the number left in front. We’ll even throw a few curveballs your way for added fun!

**Instructions**: *Only check the answers once you’ve tried to write down or say the numbers in Korean.*

**2 500 000**

** 99 850 000**

** 5 050 000**

** 67 280 000**

** 1 000 001**

** 19 450 290**

**ANSWERS**

*이백오십만*

*구천구백팔십오만*

*오백오만*

*육천칠백이십팔만*

*백만일*

*천구백사십오만이백구십*

With that little trick, it makes things a lot easier doesn’t it?

Notice that when it is not a rounded number, the same rule still applies. Take out four digits on right just as you would if the number was round, then start with the number left over on the left hand side. Add “만”, and then finally write the remaining numbers.

Next we’ll learn the number for 100 000 000 (one hundred million). It has a special name in Korean, and **becomes the new base increment as the numbers get higher than one hundred million**. It is called 억.

### 100 000 000 일억

Just notice that in this case, one hundred million is written with “일” in front of it (unlike the numbers for one hundred, one thousand, or ten thousand).

Instead of taking out four zeros in this case, you’d just take out eight zeros, then write the number left over in front of “억.”

For example, you could write one billion:

**1 0**00 000 000 십억

With another zero, it would become 백억. Add one more and it’s 천억. That’s 100 000 000 000! You just counted to 100 billion in Korean!

The higher numbers are commonly used for housing prices, monthly rents and deposit amounts. Therefore, if you are planning to rent a house in Korea, you can put your newfound knowledge to use!

As you can see, knowing just these 18 numbers can allow you to count all the way up to 1 000 000 000 and higher!

You’ve worked hard and deserve a huge congratulations!

You previously learned how to count from one all the way up to a billion and beyond in Korean. It was hard work, but you made it!

Now you’re halfway there, let’s move on to learn about the other numbering system in Korea!

## The Korea System

The Korean numbers system is a bit more modern than the China System. Like the country of Korea, it has a much lower population (only 99 to be precise), and it tends to be more than one layer (many of the numbers are at least two syllables)!

The first number in the Korea system is 하나, which is shortened to 한 when counting in Korean.

This makes it easy to remember as the Korea System, considering that 한국 means “Korea.” They have the same first syllable!

The Korea system has more complex names for numbers, and they can be trickier to internalize at first.

It’s best to start with just the numbers 1-4 in the beginning, as these are what you’ll use most often. Luckily, these four numbers are some of the easiest to learn and have fewer syllables.

After you are comfortable with these numbers, move on to learn the numbers all the way to 10!

Though the system goes all the way up to 99, you will rarely ever use numbers greater than 10 with the Korea System.

The exception would be when saying your age or hearing other people’s ages, so it is suggested you learn the numbers 20, 30, and any other that is necessary for saying your age.

With the exception of these numbers, you’ll often hear most Koreans just using the simpler China system when counting large numbers so it really isn’t necessary to learn the others unless you wish to for personal knowledge or the rare exception.

Well, those are the two systems but we know you may have a few questions. Let’s F-A-Q this thing!

### Why Two Systems?

Consider it a thing of beauty, something that makes Korean uniquely Korean.

Just as other languages have oddities or unique points that seemingly don’t make sense on the surface, Korea’s two number systems are a reflection of its rich history.

It evolved two number systems over time and just know that learning both are important in order to get by in Korea!

Take it on as a challenge. By learning the second system, you’ll open up a whole new set of possibilities for yourself in terms of counting in Korean, ordering in restaurants and many other practical uses!

### How Do I Know Which System to Use?

The two systems are used at different times and for different purposes. One system will be used at a given time, depending on the purpose of communication. The only exception where the two systems are mixed is for telling time. We say the hours using the Korea System and the minutes using the China System!

The China System is used for time (minutes), units of time, the names of months, money, saying phone numbers, measurements, and so much more!

Also, since the Korean System only goes up to 99, it’s used for any number 100 or greater by default. It’s a very useful system!

On the other hand, the Korea System is used for counting things and people, age, time (hours) and for counting in general!

For now, that’s your next mission — to learn the first of the Korea System numbers.

### The Numbers 1 to 10

All these numbers doing a number on you? Don’t worry!

Though you only had to memorize 17 words using the China System to be able to count to a billion, it should be reassuring to know that you need to learn even less to know the whole Korea System!

In fact, knowing only a few of the numbers in the beginning will allow you to do the majority of what you’ll need to do with this system, so start slow and focus first on memorizing the numbers 1-4.

When you’re feeling ambitious, move all the way up to 10.

To get started, let’s take a look at the numbers 1-10 in the Korean System.

English | Korean |
---|---|

ONE | 하나 |

TWO | 둘 |

THREE | 셋 |

FOUR | 넷 |

FIVE | 다섯 |

SIX | 여섯 |

SEVEN | 일곱 |

EIGHT | 여덟 |

NINE | 아홉 |

TEN | 열 |

#### *Can’t read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!

Go ahead and start committing this set of Korean numbers to memory.

They are slightly more complex than the China System numbers with more than half of them having two syllables.

You may wish to use a peg system or create visual associations for easier memorization. Or, you may have a system of your own!

Can you think of any possible links to English words you already know? How about a “duel” for 2 (둘)? A “hobbit” swinging on a vine for 9 (아홉)? Be creative and make some associations. It helps!

Memorize the most critical numbers 1-4 first, then move on to the rest. When you get there, move on to the next section.

But before you do, go reward yourself for your hard work.

### Ordering in Shops

By knowing just the first number, you can now order something and properly indicate how many of that item you want!

Need a caffeine boost? Head to the nearest Starbucks, walk up to the barista and say:

**“아이스 아메리카노 하나 주세요.” Please give me ****one**** iced Americano.**

If you’re a latte drinker, it doesn’t matter! Order your favorite drink, and add in the number (eg.,하나) afterwards to indicate how many you want!

This is one major reason we need the Korean system — they help us count and indicate how many of something we want!

### The Rest of the Numbers

Once you have the numbers 1-10 down, the rest is easy.

Just like the China System, we combine the numbers to create the numbers 11-19. In this sense, 11 is literally “ten one”, 12 is “ten two” and so on.

Knowing this, it should be easy. Try to write the numbers 11-19 now.

As a review, also write the number using the China System.

Practicing them side-by-side as you’re learning them makes it easier to understand the structure of the numbers and also makes it less likely you’ll mix them up in real-life scenarios later on.

Copy the following chart down and get started writing!

**Instructions**: *Write the Korean numbers in words using both systems.*

Number | China System | Korea System |
---|---|---|

11 | ||

12 | ||

13 | ||

14 | ||

15 | ||

16 | ||

17 | ||

18 | ||

19 |

**ANSWERS**

Number | China System | Korea System |
---|---|---|

11 | 십일 | 열하나 |

12 | 십이 | 열둘 |

13 | 십삼 | 열셋 |

14 | 십사 | 열넷 |

15 | 십오 | 열다섯 |

16 | 십육 | 열여섯 |

17 | 십칠 | 열일곱 |

18 | 십팔 | 열여덟 |

19 | 십구 | 열아홉 |

Things work really similarly to the China System, don’t they?

However, unlike the China System, the Korea System has unique names for each multiple of ten, starting from twenty.

But as we previously mentioned, you don’t need to memorize them all! You will rarely (if ever) come across the higher numbers, and a lot of Koreans are switching to using the China System for the numbers higher than 30 anyway.

Twenty and thirty are still common, though, so you should commit them to memory! Here’s the word for twenty:

### 20 스물

Give this a try yourself! Once you have the number memorized, you just add the ones digit to the end to form the appropriate number between 21-29. For example:

21 = 20 (스물) + 1 (하나) ➜ 스물하나

22 = 20 (스물) + 2 (둘) ➜ 스물둘

23 = 20 (스물) + 3 (셋) ➜ 스물셋

…and so on!

Next, let’s learn “thirty” using the Korea System. You may need it from time to time! Here it is:

#### 30 서른

Counting in the thirties is just the same as we previously learned: Just tack on the ones digit at the end and you’re all set!

31 = 30 (서른) + 1 (하나) ➜ 서른하나

32 = 30 (서른) + 2 (둘) ➜ 서른둘

33 = 30 (서른) + 3 (셋) ➜ 서른셋

…all the way up to 39!

Learning the rest of the numbers is really not necessary, but there really aren’t too many more to go. Remember, the Korea System only goes up to 99!

But we use the Korea System to indicate our age as well, and that’s another one of the time you’ll use it on a regular basis! As you know, age is extremely important in Korean society.

The only larger number you may wish to learn is the tens digit for your age if you are older than 39 (or are soon to be, in which case we wish you an early happy birthday)!

Here they are for your knowledge.

Learn the tens digit for your age to start so you can answer the common question in Korea, “how old are you?”

English | Korean |
---|---|

FORTY | 마흔 |

FIFTY | 쉰 |

SIXTY | 예순 |

SEVENTY | 일흔 |

EIGHTY | 여든 |

NINETY | 아흔 |

That’s it! You can fill in the gaps by using the ones digits to create all of the other numbers.

It’s nice when the counting system only goes up to 99, isn’t it?

Just recall that two major uses for this system will be to say our age and to count things.

So as a final test, say your age in Korean using the Korean System of numbers!

## Wrap-Up

Now that we know the Korean numbers, it’s just a matter of knowing when to use which system of numbers. We’ve given a brief overview in this lesson.

In general, we use the Korea System of numbers for saying your age and when counting in Korean. We use the China System of numbers most often for telling the date or time.

If you’re ready to take things to the next level and learn how to create sentences in Korean and make use of the numbers in conversation, you may wish to join our Inner Circle Web Course where we give you weekly lessons, accountability and coaching plus keep you motivated along the way to learning Korean!

We hope this lesson was valuable for you! *Let us your your favorite Korean number (written in Korean of course) in the comments below.*

Learn to read Korean and be having simple conversations, taking taxis and ordering in Korean within a week with our FREE Hangeul Hacks series: http://www.90DayKorean.com/learn

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