Korean Punctuation – Essential writing symbols

Last Updated on March 23, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
This picture has images of the different punctuation marks

Korean punctuation may already look familiar to some of you, especially if you come from an English-speaking nation.

In this lesson, we will quickly and simply go over some of the basics of punctuation in Korean writing.

This picture has images of the different punctuation marks

Korean Punctuation Marks

If you’re planning on composing something in Korean, from school essays to anything else, it is good to familiarize yourself with the punctuations used in Korea, just to be sure you’re on top of it.

This is a part of Korean grammar that isn’t typically taught in the lowest levels, so knowing these early on as you learn Korean may even be advantageous to you.

As you read on, we’ll teach you the commonly-used ones you’ll encounter as you learn Korean. Know their differences from each other and how to use them. We’ve added the Korean romanizations of words and phrases in the examples for easier reference if you’re still new to learning Korean.

Punctuation marks in Korean

Punctuation marks in Korean are called 문장무호 (munjangmuho).

Periods (.) 

In Korean, there are two purposes to using periods. The first one is to note the end of a sentence. The second is to use abbreviations and dates.

Example 1: At the end of a sentence

안녕하세요.  (annyeonghaseyo.)

Hello.

Example 2: Abbreviations and dates

2022. 03. 18.

March 18, 2022

With dates, the period is specifically used when you write the date by using numbers only. The use of periods in the Korean language seems largely similar to how it’s used in other languages, too.

Period in Korean

The Korean word for the punctuation mark “period” is 마침표 (machimpyo).

Commas (,) 

A comma is used in multiple instances in Korean, in similar ways to many other languages. It can be used in a paired sentence, to list correlated things, or to alternatively separate items from each other.

A comma can also be used to separate clauses within a singular sentence, as well as to reduce phrases that are recurring. Additionally, it can be used after spoken phrases and answers, and after some vocabulary that would otherwise end a statement.

Example: To list correlated things

뿌리 채소로는 고구마, 당근, 무, 생강 등이 있습니다.  (ppuri chaesoroneun goguma, danggeun, mu, saenggang deungi itseumnida.)

Root vegetables include sweet potatoes, carrots, radishes, and ginger.

Example: to separate clauses within a singular sentence

네, 알겠습니다. (ne, algetseumnida.)

Yes, I got it.

Comma in Korean

The punctuation mark “comma” is called 쉼표 (swimpyo) in Korean.

Question mark (?) 

This naturally marks the end of a question. It can be used for any kind of questions, it doesn’t have to be used only when presenting direct questions.

However, if your sentence has more than one question in it, add the question mark only once, at the very end.

Example: Used at the end of a question

지금 몇 시예요?  (jigeum myeot siyeyo?)

What time is it now?

Question mark in Korean

In Korean, the question mark is called 물음표 (mureumpyo).

Exclamation mark (!)

Whenever you want to make an exclamatory statement, finish it with the exclamation mark. This includes sentences that express being surprised, commands, shouting, remarks, and also expressing perfection.

Example: To make an exclamatory statement

잘했어요!  (jalhaesseoyo!)

Good job!

정말 아름다워요!  (jeongmal areumdawoyo!)

So beautiful!

Exclamation mark in Korean

The Korean word for exclamation mark is 느낌표 (neukkimpyo).

Double quotation marks (” “)

Just like in many other languages, these quotation marks are used to mark spoken words as well as dialogues. It can additionally be used to mark a quoted speech. In addition, they are used to represent different animal sounds.

Example: To mark a quoted speech

식당 주인은 “죄송합니다, 오늘은 예약이 다 찼어요.”라고 말했어요.  (sikdang juineun “joesonghamnida, oneureun yeyagi da chasseoyo.”rago malhaesseoyo.)

The restaurant owner said, “I’m sorry, we’re fully booked today.”

Double quotation mark in Korean

In the Korean language, double quotation mark is called 큰 따옴표 (keun ttaompyo).

Single quotation marks (‘ ‘) 

These are used to mark a specific quoted phrase within a quote, as well as to mark one’s thoughts. You can also use it in a conversation to indicate indirect or reported speech by another different speaker. You can just use it to emphasize certain words or a conversation.

Example: To mark one’s thoughts

나는 ‘아직 늦지 않았어.’ 라고 생각했어요.  (naneun ‘ajik neutji anasseo.’ rago saenggakaesseoyo.)

I thought, “It’s not too late.”

Single quotation mark in Korean

The Korean word for single quotation mark is 작은 따옴표 (jageun ttaompyo).

Ellipsis (…)

This one has two uses in written Korean. It’s used to either express the speech trailing off or when there is silence in speech.

Example 1: To express the speech trailing off or when there is silence in speech.

있잖아…  (itjana… )

You know…

Example 2: When there is silence in speech

그게 만약 나라면…  (geuge manyak naramyeon…)

If that were me…

Ellipsis in Korean

The punctuation mark “epllipsis” is called 줄임표 (jurimpyo) in Korean.

Colon (:)

The colon can also be used in two different ways. First, it can be used to introduce the different parts of a list.

For example, when you are writing about an event, you may use the colon to introduce each separate item like location, date, and so on. You’ll also use the colon to separate hours from minutes when indicating time.

Example: When writing about an event

일시: 2022년 3월 18일 1시 (ilsi: 2022nyeon 3wol 18il 1si )

Date and time: March 18, 2022 at 1:00

장소: 서울역 (jangso: seoullyeok)

Location: Seoul Station

Colon in Korean

In Korean, the punctuation mark “colon” is called 쌍점 (ssangjeom).

Tilde (~)

Continuing the trend of having two uses, tilde can be used to express a time period or to indicate a distance. In the English language, it would translate as the same meaning as “from X to Y”. But in writing, you can simply use tilde to express the same.

Example 1: To indicate a distance

서울~부산 구간의 기차표는 얼마예요?  (seoul~busan guganui gichapyoneun eolmayeyo?)

How much is the train ticket between Seoul and Busan?

Example 2: To express a time period 

평균 운행 시간은 2시간 30분 ~ 50분 사이이다. (pyeonggyun unhaeng siganeun 2sigan 30bun ~ 50bun saiida.)

The average driving time is between 2 hours and 30 minutes and 50 minutes.

Tilde in Korean

The punctuation mark “tilde” is called 물결표 (mulgyeolpyo) in Korean.

Slash (/)

With a slash, you can indicate the “per” of measurements such as price, speed, and other similar ones.

Example: To indicate price per unit or person

3,000원/개 3000 (3,000won/gae 3000)

Won per unit

입장료는 19,000원/명입니다 (ipjangnyoneun 19,000won/myeongimnida)

The admission fee is 19,000 won per person.

Slash in Korean

The Korean word for “slash” is 빗금 (bitgeum),

Parentheses (( ))

In writing, parentheses are used to either include additional information within a text or to provide the original word for loan vocabulary taken from other languages.

Example: To provide the original word for loan vocabulary

숭례문(崇禮門)은 서울 4대문(大門) 중의 하나이다.  (sungnyemun(崇禮門)eun seoul 4daemun(大門) jungui hanaida.)

Sungnyemun Gate is one of the four gates of Seoul.

Parentheses in Korean

The Korean word for “parentheses” is 소괄호 (sogwalho).

Middle dot (ㆍ)

Lastly, we have the middle dot. This isn’t as widely used among different languages, and it is a recent addition to grammar rules, too. By using this middle dot, one can make lists of similar things, or mark significant dates, such as national holidays.

Example: To make lists of similar things

전국의 초ㆍ중ㆍ고등학교 모두 대면 수업을 시작했다. (jeongugui choㆍjungㆍgodeunghakgyo modu daemyeon sueobeul sijakaetda.)

Elementary, middle, and high schools across the country started face-to-face classes.

Middle dot in Korean

In Korean, middle dot is called 가운뎃점 (gaundetjeom).

And that’s it for the punctuations marks in Korean. Hopefully, this helps you as you practice writing in Korean!

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