Book Review: Roadmap to Korean

Title: Roadmap to Korean
Author: Richard Harris
Paperback: 350 pages
Publisher: Hollym International Corporation; 2 edition (November 3, 2003)
ISBN-10: 1565911873
ISBN-13: 978-1565911871

There's a lot of resources out there for students of Korean. Some are written by Koreans for he benefit of foreigners. Most of said resources are laughably bad while few and far between are quite good. On the other hand, some are written by foreigners for the benefit of other foreigners. Most of said resources are either for learning slang or are simply MIA. An exceptional resource is Richard Harris's Roadmap to Korean. His previous effort, interestingly enough, is also hard to find and also very valuable (Faces of Korea).

Don't let the textbook-like cover fool you because this is a resourceful heart-to-heart conversational with you and the author. Harris has compiled his personal notes, stories, charts, tips and tricks all into this neatly presented package. Imagine a super-awesome blog written on paper. It's a very light read and written casually; almost spoken-like. The author has lots of advice to give whether you've never studied the language before or have been for years. There's some history and culture as well as some grammar pitfalls and speaking taboos that are enough to learn from as well as laugh at. His perspective is golden and there's a lot to learn from his book, make no mistake.

I don't have much to say about this book that hasn't already been said. It's a great guide. The only thing I want to criticize is the author's plea to learn hanja. Although I also strongly encourage learning hanja because of its usefulness, he does little in terms of pointing one in the right direction of how to actually study hanja. A minor gripe for such a fabulous study guide. Yes, this book is enough to warrant me saying the word "fabulous".

I would also like to point out that this book is the book I should have written. If I ever had aspirations to publish a "Guide to Study Korean" book, this would have been it. Everything to the comical voice to the practical breakdown of a simple phrase such as "How are you?" Thanks a lot Harris for beating me to the punch and doing a better job than I probably would have done.

I wish I read this years ago.

I'm surprised it took me so long to buy, read, review, use this book. I really could have used this a lot a year ago, two years ago. Anyway, if you know someone starting out in Korean or who is truly eager to learn more, I can think of no better book to recommend.