This study explored the relationship between accurate vowel production and proficiency levels in L2 English produced by Korean EFL adult learners. To this end, nine English vowels /i, ɪ, ɛ, æ, ʌ, ɔ, ɑ, ʊ, u/ were selected and adjacent vowels paired up (e.g., /i/-/ɪ/, /u/-/ʊ/, /ɛ/-/æ/, /ʌ/-/ɔ/, /ɔ/-/ɑ/). The spectral features of the pairs were measured instrumentally, namely F1 (indicating tongue height) and F2 (indicating tongue backness). Meanwhile, the durations as well as spectral features of the tense and lax counterparts in /i/-/ɪ/ and /u/-/ʊ/ were measured, as both temporal and spectral features are important in distinguishing them. The findings of this study confirm that higher-rated speakers were better able to distinguish the contrasts in the front vowel pairs /i/-/ɪ/ and /ɛ/-/æ/ than lower-rated learners, but in the central and back vowel pairs /u/-/ʊ/and /ʌ/-/ɔ/ (though not /ɔ/-/ɑ/), Korean EFL learners generally showed difficulty distinguishing adjacent vowels with spectral cues. On the other hand, the durations of the tense and lax vowels showed that the lower-rated speakers were less able to use the temporal feature to differentiate tense vowels from their lax counterparts, unlike previous studies that found that in general Korean learners depend excessively on the temporal cue to distinguish tense and lax vowels.