Culture in Korea, Learn Korean

Korean Slang: A Quick and Fun Guide to Sound More Native

Learning a new language goes beyond just mastering the grammar and vocabulary. To truly sound like a local, you need to know the slang. In Korean, there’s a whole different world of words and phrases that are commonly used in everyday speech. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of Korean slang!

The Power of Slang in Korean Language

Korean slang is often used to show familiarity or create a casual atmosphere. It’s frequently used in conversations among friends and in less formal situations. It can be heard everywhere: in K-dramas, K-pop songs, variety shows, and of course, in real-life conversations. Here are some of the most popular Korean slang words and phrases:

1. 대박 (Daebak)

“Daebak” literally translates to “big win”, but in slang, it’s used to express amazement or excitement, similar to “awesome” or “amazing” in English.

2. 꿀잼 (Kkuljaem)

“Kkuljaem” comes from the words 꿀 (kkul, meaning honey) and 잼 (jaem, a shortened form of 재미 which means fun). So, “kkuljaem” is something that is really fun or entertaining.

3. 솔직히 (Soljiki)

“Soljiki” means “honestly” or “frankly.” It’s often used at the beginning of a sentence when someone is about to say something sincere or honest.

4. 품절녀/품절남 (Pumjeollyeo/Pumjeolnam)

These terms refer to someone who is married. “Pumjeollyeo” is for a married woman and “Pumjeolnam” is for a married man.

5. 눈치 (Nunchi)

“Nunchi” is the ability to read the atmosphere and react appropriately. It’s a highly valued social skill in Korean culture.

6. 쩔어 (Jjeoreo)

“Jjeoreo” is a slang term popularized by the K-pop group BTS in their song of the same name. It’s a term used to describe something that is awesome or cool.

7. 엄친딸/엄친아 (Eomchina/Eomchinttal)

These terms literally mean “mom’s friend’s son/daughter” and are used to refer to someone who is perfect or excels at everything, much like the “model” children your parents may have compared you to.

8. 덕후 (Deokhu)

A term used to describe a person who is a big fan of, or obsessed with, a certain celebrity, TV show, or pop culture phenomenon. It’s similar to “fangirl” or “fanboy” in English.

9. 셀카 (Selca)

This is a combination of the English words “self” and “camera”. It’s the Korean equivalent of a “selfie”.

10. 멘붕 (Menboong)

Short for 멘탈붕괴 (Mental Bunggoe), this term refers to a state of shock or mental breakdown.

11. 짱 (Jjang)

“Jjang” is used to describe something that is the best or the coolest. It can be used on its own or attached to another word, like “음식짱” (Food is the best).

12. 불금 (Bulgeum)

“Bulgeum” is a combination of the words “불금” (fire Friday), similar to the English “TGIF” or “Thank God It’s Friday”.

13. 알바 (Alba)

Short for 아르바이트 (Arbeit), which is borrowed from the German word for “work”. It’s used to refer to a part-time job.

14. 노잼 (Nojaem)

The opposite of 꿀잼 (kkuljaem). If something is boring or not fun, it’s “노잼” (no fun).

15. 애교 (Aegyo)

“Aegyo” refers to a cute display of affection often expressed including but not limited to through a cute/baby voice, facial expressions, and gestures. Aegyo is often used by K-pop idols to seem adorable to their fans.

16. 친구 (Chingu)

While not exactly a slang term, “chingu” is a common word that is important in Korean culture. It means friend, but it’s only used to refer to friends of the same age.

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