Sometimes your stomach is growling for food, but you either don’t have the time or desire to eat a full meal, so you’ll just eat a snack. Other times, you’re not even hungry but may want to snack on something while watching your favorite movie for the tenth time, so that’s what you’ll get. So today you’ll learn with us how to say snack in Korean, and then you can spice up your snacking life!
‘Snack’ in Korean
There are two words which you can use to say snack in Korean. The first and main word for how to say snack in Korean, according to the dictionary, is 간식 (ganshik). This comes from a combination of two words: the adjective 간단하다 (gandanhada), meaning simple, and 식사 (shiksa), meaning meal. Combining the first syllable of both gets you 간식, with the meaning ‘snack’. This word covers snack foods all the way to street food like 떡볶이 (ddeokbokki) aka Korean rice cakes. The usage also tends to revolve more around that than in reference to snacks like chips and candy.
The other word you can use to say snack in Korean is 과자 (gwaja). Note that this word doesn’t actually mean snack in Korean, at least not in its traditional form. However, this is the word everyone uses when referring to eating snacks from cookies to chips, giving it a meaning similar to snack. Though, unlike the word 간식, you may not use it to refer to street food or the equivalent.
In short, perhaps the best way for you to remember these two words would be by using 간식 when you’re speaking of street foods or other salty meal like snacks such as 라면 (ramyeon) and using 과자 when you want to mean chips, candy, cookies, and the sort.
Associations for ‘Snack’ in Korean
Like we said above, we should associate 간식 for street food and 과자 for everyday snacks.
간식 is easy. Just imagine many people eating at street food stalls and then they get sick and stick their heads in cans to vomit (actually, Korean street food is quite good, but this image should help you remember) 간식
과자 is a bit trickier. To remember this, we’ll learn the 한자 (hanja) or Chinese characters for it (yes, many Korean words have Chinese characters as well!). In Chinese characters it is 果子 (gwanja).
果 – 과 meaning fruit, or something sweet
子 – 자 meaning child or boy (this is often used for small objects)
So when we remember these characters, we can make the story of a child’s favorite fruit is candy! Learning 한자 is a great way to understand Korean better and make stories to memorize vocabulary.
What associations do you use to remember 간식 and 과자? Let us know in the comments below!
A word of caution about Romanization
While it is possible for you to study the words in this article simply by reading their romanized versions, it will come in handy for you to be able to read Hangeul if you ever wish to come to Korea. Hangeul is the Korean alphabet, and not difficult to learn. In fact, you can learn it in just 90 minutes.
After you’ve familiarized yourself with Hangeul, life in Korea will suddenly seem so much easier and the country won’t appear so foreign for you. So, if you’re serious about learning Korean, why not learn Hangeul today?
오늘 배고프지 않아서 간식만 먹었어요. (oneul baegopheuji anhaseo ganshikman meokeosseoyo.)
I wasn’t hungry today so I only ate a snack.
편의점에 과자를 사러 갈까? (phyeonijeome gwajareul sareo galkka?)
Shall we go buy some snacks from the convenience store?
Now that you know how to say ‘snack’ in Korean, you can go out and find your favorite Korean snack to eat! What snack would you like to know how to say in Korean? Let us know in the comments below!
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