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 Korea! Once you know this word, you will be able to start talking about your friends in Korean.
Let’s talk about how to say the word ‘friend’ in Korean.
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The Word ‘Friend’ in Korean
The word for ‘friend’ in Korean is 친구 (chin-gu). You will hear this word a lot when you are in Korea. However, its 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.
If somebody is older or younger than you, then they are often referred to as ‘older brother’ or ‘younger brother’. As a result, the below words can also be used to mean ‘friend’ in certain situations:
|Someone younger than the speaker||동생 (dongsaeng)|
|A male who is older than the (male) speaker||형 (hyeong)|
|A female who is older than the (male) speaker||누나 (nuna)|
|A male who is older than the (female) speaker||오빠 (oppa)|
|A female who is older than the (female) speaker||언니 (eonni)|
A Word of Caution About Romanized Korean
Using the Romanized Korean words can be a useful way to pick up a few 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.
Alternate Uses of ‘Friend’ in Korean
While the word 친구 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).
Formal / Polite:
저는 이미 사귀는 남자친구가 있습니다
(jeoneun imi sagwineun namjachinguga isssumnida)
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 saenggakhaesseo)
I thought we were friends
How to Remember the Korean Word 친구
The word 친구 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’.
Now that you know how to say ‘friend’ in Korean, go out there and make some new Korean friends!