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Korean slang is the everyday expression used by Korean but most of the time not taught by textbooks. If you are a k drama fan, you might have already heard of 헐(heol) or 파이팅!(paiting) and can guess in what kind of situations to use them.
While Korean slangs may not appear on your vocabulary lists or other main language learning resources, they are essential to holding a successful conversation with native Korean speakers. Like Korean acronyms, Korean slangs are also a more flexible aspect of the language that tends to change as time passes.
So today I’m going to show you 20+ useful Korean slangs that you can use in everyday Korean conversations. From relationships to food and drinks, I’ll get you covered with a variety of situations. Buckle up and let’s get started!
대박(daebak): Awesome! / That is crazy!
This expression is very commonly used by the young generation. It can be used when you’re amazed by something. When you hear unexpected news, when you eat something delicious, when you encounter something amazing, etc.
Ex) 야, 현빈이랑 손예진 결혼한대! 대박! (Hey, did you hear that Hyunbin and Son Yejin are getting married? Amazing!)
헐(heol): OMG / Wow! / What the (heck)!
This also can be used when you are surprised or amazed. It’s similar to ‘OMG’ in English. It can be used in both positive and negative situations. It’s usually used after something shocking or surprising encounter.
Ex) 헐, 나 여권 잃어버렸어! (OMG, I lost my passport!)
파이팅!(paiting): Go! / Cheer up!
파이팅 is a word of support or encouragement. It’s commonly used in sports to cheer an athlete or a team, when someone is going to take an exam, or whenever a challenging situation is met.
Ex) 대한민국 파이팅! (Go, Korea!)
Ex) 시험 잘 쳐! 파이팅! (Good luck with your exam! Go for it!)
When you’re doing something alone
혼밥(honbap): Eating alone / 혼술(honsul): Drinking alcohol alone
Eating or drinking alcohol alone has become a new trend in Korea and a new word was created to describe that action. Both are merged words. 혼자(being alone), which only takes the first syllable 혼, merges with 밥(meal) or 술(alcohol). 혼밥(honbap) means having meal alone, and 혼술(honsul) is drinking alcohol alone.
Ex) 오늘 점심에 같이 밥을 먹을 사람이 없어서 혼밥했어. (I ate alone because there was no one to eat with for lunch today.)
Ex) 오늘 퇴근하고 집에서 영화 보면서 혼술하려고. (I’m going to drink alone after work, while watching a movie at home.)
Conversational slang phrases
노답(no dap): No answer / No hope / Messed up
노(no) is the English word “no”, which the younger generation in Korea uses a lot in slangs. 답(dap) means “answer”, and since it’s attached to a word 노(no), it becomes a negative expression. This phrase is used a lot to describe a problematic situation that has no answer or is very difficult to solve.
Ex) 시험도 떨어지고, 취업도 안 되고. 내 인생은 진짜 노답이야. (I failed on my exam and I can’t get a job either. My life is so messed up.
극혐(geukyeom): Extreme disgust
This phrase is a shortened form of 극한의 혐오(Extreme disgust), by taking the first syllables of each word. 극한의 means “extreme” and 혐오 means “hatred, disgust”. You can use this expression when you are pointing out something very disgusting or revolting.
Ex) 난 오이를 극혐해. (I hate cucumbers.)
꿀잼(kkul-jaem): Something that is very fun / interesting
꿀means “honey” and 잼 is short for 재미있다, which means “funny/interesting”.
By putting them together, it becomes a word 꿀잼(kkuljaem). You can use this word to describe something that is very fun or interesting
Ex) 드라마 ‘사랑의 불시착’ 꿀잼인데, 봤어? (The drama “Crash Landing on You” is so much fun. Did you watch it?)
노잼(no-jaem): Something that is boring / not interesting
This is an antonym of 꿀잼, so it has the opposite meaning. As we’ve mentioned above, 노 means “no” and it brings a negative meaning to a word. And it’s attached to 잼, a shortened form of 재미있다(funny/interesting). You can say it towards someone that makes a horrible joke, or a situation that it’s very boring and not interesting at all.
Ex) 나는 개인적으로 그 영화 별로야. 노잼이야. (I personally don’t like that movie. It’s boring.)
Food and drinks
맛집(matjip): Good restaurant (a restaurant/place with good tasting food)
It’s a merged word of 맛있다(delicious) and 집(store, shop), referring to a restaurant that has good tasting food.
Ex) 거기가 진짜 불고기 맛집이래! 내일 같이 가 보자! (I heard that place is really famous for Bulgogi! Let’s go together tomorrow!)
치맥(chimaek): Fried chicken and beer
Koreans love the combination of fried chicken with beer! 치킨 means “fried chicken” and 맥주 is “beer”. Merge the first syllables of each word and it becomes a word 치맥(chimaek)! It’s the best combination that is perfect for a summer outdoor picnic, such as hanging out with your friends at 한강(han-gang) river in Seoul. You’ll feel so refreshed and forget about the summer heat, with a good fried chicken and cold beer!
Ex) 여름에 야외에서 먹는 치맥이 최고야! (Eating chicken and beer outdoors in the summer is the best!)
아(a) is the shortened from of 아침, which means “breakfast”.
점(jeom) is the shortened from of 점심, which means “lunch”.
Put them together and it becomes a word 아점(ajeom), meaning “brunch”. Same process as to how the English word “brunch” was made!
Ex) 오늘은 일요일이니까 늦게 일어나서 집에서 아점 먹고 TV볼거야. (It’s Sunday, so I will wake up late and eat brunch at home and watch TV.)
Love and Relationships
남친(namchin): Boyfriend / 여친(yeochin): Girlfriend
These are shortened forms of 남자 친구 and 여자 친구, in terms of significant other.
남(nam) is the shortened form of 남자, which means “boy”.
친(chin) is the shortened form of 친구, which means “friend”.
Put them together and it becomes a word 남친(namchin), meaning “boyfriend”.
여(nam) is the shortened form of 여자, which means “girl”.
친(chin) is the shortened form of 친구, which means “friend”.
Put them together and it becomes a word 여친(yeochin), meaning “girlfriend”.
Ex) 나 남친이랑 다음 달에 결혼해! (I’m getting married to my boyfriend next month!)
남사친(namsachin): Male friend / 여사친(yeosachin): Female friend
It’s a term that was made in order to distinguish “just friend”, by adding 사람, meaning “person” in the middle of the word 남친 and 여친.
A: 너 민호랑 사귀니? (Are you dating Minho?)
B: 무슨 소리야? 걔는 그냥 남사친이라고! (What are you talking about? He’s just a male friend!)
썸(sseom): A relationship between two people before becoming an official boyfriend/girlfriend.
썸(sseom) is a borrowed word from the English word “something”. It describes a romantic relationship between two people who have feelings for each other and start getting along, but haven’t made any steps as an official couple yet. It’s used as 썸 타다(sseom tada) form.
Ex) 우리는 사귀기 전에 1달 정도 썸 탔어. (We had “sseom” period for about a month before we start dating.)
모쏠(mossol): No girlfriend or boyfriend since birth
It’s a word to describe someone who has never had a boyfriend or girlfriend. The original form of this word is 모태 솔로. The first word 모태 means “mother’s womb”, and the second word 솔로 means “a person who is not in a relationship”.
Ex) 나는 민혁이가 모쏠인줄 알았는데, 알고 보니 여자친구가 10명이나 있었다고 하더라! (I thought Minhyuk was NGSB(no girlfriend since birth), but it turned out that he had 10 girlfriends!)
밀당(mildang): 밀고 당기기 => the power struggle in romantic relationships
This is a shot for the phrase 밀고 당기다, which means “pushing and pulling”. It refers to the actions and power struggle between two people who are in a romantic relationship, by giving attention and then withholding it.
Ex) 연애를 잘하려면 밀당을 잘해야 한다는데, 나는 그런 거 잘 못해. (They say that you have to play hard to be good at a romantic relationship, but I’m not good at that.)
Common Internet Slangs
프사(peusa): Profile picture
It’s a short for프로필 사진, which literally means “profile picture”. It refers to people’s profile photos of SNS accounts.
Ex) 수현이 어제 프사 바꿨던데, 봤어? (Suhyun changed her profile picture yesterday. Did you see that?)
읽씹(ikssip) : Read the message but ignore (not answer)
The original form is 읽고 씹다, which literally means “read and ignore”. 씹다 means “chew” but it’s used as slang for “ignore”. It refers to the negative meaning of not replying to a message that was received. Some messenger applications have a feature that let you know if the other person had read your message or not. You can use this word if you send a message to someone and it turns into a ‘read state’, but there is no reply.
Ex) 걔한테 읽씹 당하니까 기분 너무 나빠. (I’m so upset that he read my message and did not answer me.)
칼답(kaldap): Extremely prompt reply
This word comes from the phrase 칼같이 답하다, which its literal meaning is “answer as a knife.” It’s an expression that refers to an extremely fast response. It can be used as an opposite word of 읽씹(ikssip). You can use this word if someone answers your message right after you send it.
Ex) 칼답까지는 아니더라도, 읽씹은 하지 말아줘. (I’m not asking you to answer right away but at least don’t read and ignore it.)