How to Say “Friend” in Korean – The meaning of 친구 (chingu)

Last Updated on September 13, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
Friend in Korean

One of the best parts of learning a new language is all the new friends that you can make. Therefore, it’s an excellent idea to know how to say “friend” in Korean! Once you know this word, you will be able to start talking about your friends in Korean.

Friend in Korean

Below is a free PDF guide that you can download and take with you:

Let’s talk about how to say the word “friend” in Korean.

“Friend” in Korean

The word for “friend” in Korean is 친구 (chingu). You will hear this word a lot when you are in South Korea. You might have also heard it a lot in Korean dramas or Korean movies. You can also watch Chingu (Korean movie) to help you learn more about this word.

How to spell “friend” in Korean

To correctly spell the Korean word for “friend,” it’s best to familiarize yourself with the Korean alphabet. Here’s how you can spell the word “chingu:”

친구

Below are the consonants and vowels used in the word “chingu” with their closest sound approximation in English. It’s also beneficial to practice writing this word with the right stroke order early on.

  • ㅊ – ch
  • ㅣ- i
  • ㄴ -n
  • ㄱ – g
  • ㅜ – u

How to pronounce “friend” in Korean

Now that you how to spell “friend” in Korean, let’s now listen to how its correct pronunciation. The audio below can teach you how:

친구 (chingu)

“Chingu” in Korean

The Korean word 친구 (chingu) translates to “friend” but usage is a little bit different in Korean than it is in English. This is because Koreans generally only use the word for people of the same age or to refer to their close friends.

The word 친구 (chingu) is quite easy to remember. You can imagine the first part “chin” as your chin, and the second part “gu” as some goo. If you had some goo on your chin, then wouldn’t your friend let you know?

British readers can also remember the word by imagining the cute penguin from the TV show “pingu”. Everybody wants Pingu to be their “chingu”.

The Word "Friend" in Korean

If somebody is older or younger than you, then they are often referred to as “older brother” or “younger brother”. As a result, the Korean words below can also be used to mean “friend” in certain situations whether you’re speaking to your female or male friend:

EnglishKorean
Someone younger than the speaker동생 (dongsaeng)
A male who is older than the (male) speaker형 (hyeong)
A female who is older than the (male) speaker누나 (nuna)
A male who is older than the (female) speaker오빠 (oppa)
A female who is older than the (female) speaker언니 (eonni)

Another word for “friend” in Korean

Apart from 친구 (chingu), you might have also heard of other similar terms when someone is referring to a friend in Korean.

Below is another Korean term related to “friend.”

“Best friend” in Korean

There are several ways to refer to your close friend or best friend in Korean. The most common way to say best friend in Korean is 베프 (bepeu) which is a Korean slang term. This is a shortened version of the Konglish phrase 베스트 프렌드 (beseuteu peurendeu) which means best friend.

Another word for best friend in Korean is 절친 (jeolchin), shortened from 절친한 친구 (jeolchinhan chingu) which translates to “great friend.”

“Relationship” in Korean

Unlike in English, 친구 (chingu) can’t be used as a blanket term for relationships or friendships. The Korean word for “relationship” is 관계 (gwangye).

Relationship words in Korean

Below are some words that refer to different relationships that we have with people around us. We also have a more extensive list of terms and honorifics that you’ll likely hear in South Korea.

“Friendship” in Korean

The Korean word for friendship is 우정 (ujeong). You’ll be able to appreciate this term more once you’ve met Korean friends of your own.

“Acquaintance” in Korean

When you know someone but you’re not exactly friends yet, you can refer to them as 아는 사람 (aneun saram). This translates to “a person I know” which can refer to an acquaintance in English. If you meet someone so often, why not introduce yourself to them? Perhaps you’ll gain one more chingu!

“Co-worker” in Korean

If you already have a job, you can refer to your co-workers or colleagues as 동료 (dongnyo) in Korean.

“Classmate” in Korean

On the other hand, if you’re still going to school, then you can call a classmate 반 친구 (ban chingu). If you’re referring to several of them, the word for classmates in Korean is 반 친구들 (ban chingudeul). Our article called School in Korean also provides other similar terms related to school.

Other uses of “friend” in Korean

While the word 친구 (chingu) only means “friend” in Korean, it is also the building block of the words “boyfriend” and “girlfriend”.

If you want to say “boyfriend” in Korean, you can add the word 남자 (namja) to the word 친구 (chingu) to make the word 남자친구 (namjachingu).

If you want to say “girlfriend” in Korean, you can add the word 여자 (yeoja) to the word 친구 (chingu) to make the word 여자친구 (yeojachingu).

Uses of "Friend" in Korean

Example:

저는 이미 사귀는 남자친구가 있습니다 (jeoneun imi sagwineun namjachinguga itseumnida)

I already have a boyfriend.

저는 이미 사귀는 남자친구가 있어요 (jeoneun imi sagwineun namjachinguga isseoyo)

I already have a boyfriend.

그는 내 친구의 친구야 (geuneun nae chinguui chinguya)

He’s a friend of a friend.

난 우리가 친구라고 생각했어 (nan uriga chingurago saenggakaesseo)

I thought we were friends.

Want more Korean phrases? Go to our Korean Phrases Page for a complete list!

Ganbu meaning

깐부 (gganbu) is a word that has quite a number of meanings in English. It might be a popular word to many foreigners as it was used in the popular Netflix series “Squid game,” but it isn’t common among Koreans. This word isn’t listed in Korean dictionaries either.

깐부 (gganbu) can be considered an old slang that means “close friend,” “comrade,” or “partner.”

In the 6th episode of the series Squid Game, this was defined as a neighborhood friend who you share your marbles, ddakji, and everything with.

A Word of Caution About Romanized Korean

Using romanized words can be a useful way to pick up a few Korean words. However, it is far easier to memorize words and speak in a way that can be understood if you take the time to learn Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Understanding Hangul can help you notice grammar points and articles and separate these from vocabulary, making it easier to learn both.

If you want to learn some more essential phrases, check out this article or try our full Korean course.

Do you also have Korean friends? Talking to them will become much easier when you learn Korean. We have a structured online course that can help you have a 3-minute conversation in Korean in just 90 days! Sounds interesting, right? Know more about it here.

Now that you know how to say “friend” in Korean, go out there and say hello to some new Korean friends! If you’d like to know more about the Korean language, check out our full write-up.

    18 replies to "How to Say “Friend” in Korean – The meaning of 친구 (chingu)"

    • Avatar for Rachel Nigro Rachel Nigro

      How do you say
      WELCOME FRIENDS

      I would like to make a sign to hang

      Also, I would like to see it written using Korean alphabet

    • Avatar for Jay Jay

      how to say thankyou my friends?? Thankyou ^^

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Jay! You can say “고마워, 친구들!” Please check this link for details on how to say “thank you” in Korean! (https://www.90daykorean.com/thank-you-in-korean/) ^^

      • Avatar for Smile girl Smile girl

        Kamsahabnida chingu
        Thank you. Friend

      • Avatar for Cristina Cristina

        Joesonghamnida chingu

        • Avatar for MJ MJ

          How to say “I want to have Friends worldwide, hope we can be good friends^^”?

          • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

            You can say “나는 전 세계의 친구들을 사귀고 싶어요. 우리가 좋은 친구가 되길 바라요.”

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