Korean resources: monthly listening magazine for Japanese

I always have doubts when I present Korean resources to learn Japanese because I don’t know if they can be ordered overseas. I have no experience with it myself, but I think that buying Korean books is more complicated than buying Japanese books. But I hope that it will change someday and that it will become easier to receive books shipped from Korea.

Anyway, the magazine I want to talk about is NHK 일어. (pronounce: NHK ilo)

I can’t really make out much about the publisher http://www.sisafl.co.kr because their website does not seem to have been updated for a while. Anyway, they publish two monthly magazines, one to learn English and one to learn Japanese.

How the magazine is structured

The magazine has a glossy cover but the 100 pages inside are all in black and white. The only exception is the first two pages with the table of contents (you can see them on the Aladin page). If you just look at the printing quality and the interior design, the magazine does not seem very attractive but the quality of the contents and the CD made up for it.

This magazine is for advanced learners and contains topics related to social trends, politics, business or economy. There are 5 different topics, a drama extract, and a section “news highlight”. In the news highlight section, 8 topical issues of the past month are summarised on a page/double-page.

The magazine comes with a CD. The first topic is the only one to be “reading only” but all the other ones are on the CD. As the English subtitle of the magazine suggests, it is “a monthly listening magazine”.

A glimpse into the contents

I got the April issue and to give an idea of the contents, this is what I found in this month’s magazine:

The first trendy topic (without CD) is about the labour reform (12 pages). Then, there is an article about job searching (8 pages) and another one on the Tokyo Olympics mascots (9 pages). Then comes the drama (13 pages). As far as I can tell, it is always the same one: レガルハイ, Legal High. Then we go on with two “special reports”. The first one is about how you can use your phone to pay, receive e-receipt, do e-commerce and so on (12 pages). The second one is about the price augmentation and the increasing difficulty to move house (9 pages). The “news highlight” section covers a variety of subjects, with  Japan politics, Trump and North Korea as recurrent topics.

I am under the impression that the magazine tends to go for economic and business articles over politics and socials.

Each article comes with an introduction written in Korean. The whole article is also entirely translated in Korean. However, there is no vocabulary or grammar explanation.

Why I like it

First, I like the choice of topics. They are trendy subjects, but even if I read the news regularly in Japanese, there are numerous topics that I never heard of before. I guess that this is the difference between a topical issue (that you know by reading the news) and social or economic trends that you know by living in the country. I would not read this magazine if it were the same contents as an online news portal.

I also like very much the form of the articles. They are very different from news articles that you can read online. Apart from the first one, which is a reading exercise, all the others are more focused on the listening aspect. They take the form of a reportage, with a journalist interviewing people. It looks like something you could watch on TV or listen to on the radio. On the CD you can hear different people speaking, some are in the street with background noise, some do not articulate very well… Contrary to a studio recording, the audio records things that people said on the spot. It is a very efficient listening exercise.

I think that the CD more or less justifies the price (15,000 won or around 11 euros) and, in any case, the value of the magazine lies in the audio. You can feel that the audio reportage came first and that the magazine is just a transcript of what was said. To someone like me who need to work on listening comprehension, this format is much better than the other way around: a text written first and read by a professional narrator in a studio.

I don’t use the Korean translation, because I would understand it even less than the Japanese! I first listen to the audio several times and try to understand as much as I can. Then I work my way through the transcript with my dictionary, a marker and a pen, and then, listen to the audio once again. The paper quality is good enough and markers don’t bleed through.


As I wrote above, this magazine is more a collection of audio reports than a magazine in itself. I don’t think that it is particularly popular in Korea because I never saw it piled up on the “study Japanese” corner, but spotted it by chance, tucked away in the linguistic magazines’ shelf.

I have an interest in language learning resources and I am always curious to know what kind of textbooks or other material exist in different countries. Do you use materials to learn Japanese that are not in English? Don’t hesitate to let me know!