Korean slang popular words in 2019

If you want to add some Korean slang to your conversations, then you’ve come to the right place! This guide is filled to the brim with awesome phrases that are going to level up your Korean communication skills in no time flat.

Not only is it going to help with your listening abilities, but you’ll sound more like a Korean local.

Friends will become closer, jokes will be easier to understand, and you’ll be able to follow Korean movies and songs better. Not bad for only learning a few phrases and words! It’s a great way to become more familiar with Korean culture.

This post is list is a mix of different words and expressions used by native Koreans.

Some are single Korean slang words that you can plug in to various situations.

Others are expressions that you can use as full sentences. Since a lot of these phrases are colloquial, it’s good to be familiar with basic Korean phrases as well.

Below each slang term, we’ll give you a breakdown and explanation so you can understand what the term means exactly. We also created a free PDF download with the 90 Day Korean team’s top 20 slang picks + explanations so you can take this cultural gem with you on the go.

Pick your favorites, make sure you understand the meaning, and try them out with your Korean friends. You’re almost certain to see some surprised looks, as well as hear “where did you learn that?!”

Some warning: the slang in this article is in Hangul, the Korean alphabet. If you can’t read the Hangul yet it is possible to learn it in about 90 minutes so what are you waiting for?

Let’s do this!

Modern Korean Slang

Ready to impress your Korean friends? Here’s the list of Korean words and phrases to do it! Pepper these throughout your conversations and bond with your 친구 (chingu).

1. 남사친 (namsachin) – A guy who is “just a friend”

남 (nam) is short for 남자 (namja), meaning “man”

사 (sa) is short for 사람 (saram), meaning “person”

친 (chin) is short for 친구 (chingu), meaning friend.

Put them all together, and you get man-person-friend, or a male friend.

Guys, you can use the same term for a girl who is your friend but isn’t your girlfriend. Change the 남 / nam to 여 / yeo (여자 / yeoja), and you’ve got 여사친 (yeosachin)!

2. 남친 / 여친 (namchin / yeochin) – Boyfriend or girlfriend

Korean boyfriend and girlfriend

Like lots of Korean slang (and indeed Korean words in general), these words come from taking the first parts of two other words.

Can you guess which words they are made up of? 남친 (namchin) comes from 남자 친구 (namja chingu) and 여친 (yeochin) comes from 여자 친구(yeoja chingu). That should save you some typing time on KakaoTalk when you ask somebody if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend.

3. 꿀잼 (kkuljaem) –  Something that is fun, funny, or interesting

꿀 (kkul) means ‘honey’.

잼 (jaem) is short for 재미있어요 (jaemiisseoyo), which means ‘interesting.

If you put them together, you get ‘꿀잼’ (kkuljaem), which you can use to describe something that is fun or interesting.

4. 노잼 (nojaem) – Something that is not fun, funny, or uninteresting 

Korean slang no jam

The evil twin of 꿀잼 is 노잼 (nojaem).

노 (no) means “no” or “not”

잼 (jaem) is the first part of 재미있어요 (jaemiisseoyo),  meaning interesting.

So if you see something that you don’t think is fun or funny, you can say “노잼 (nojaem)!” 

5. 솔까말 (solkkamal) – To speak openly and honestly

솔 (sol) stands for 솔직히 (soljiki) with means “honestly”.

The 까 (kka) and 말 (mal) parts come from 까놓고 말하다 (kkanoko malhada), meaning “speak your mind”.

The full phrase is 솔직히 까놓고 말하다 (soljiki kkanoko malhada), but you can keep it simple. When you want someone to tell it to you straight, use 솔까말 (solkkamal).

6. 더럽게 (deoreopge) – Badly

Literally means ‘dirtily’ (from 더럽다 / deoreopda), but is often used to mean ‘badly’, for example 더럽게 못생기다 (deoreopge motsaenggida) would mean ‘really ugly’ and ‘더럽게 느리다’ (deoreopge neurida) would mean ‘really slow’ (referring to a slow computer perhaps).

7. 품절남/ 되다 (pumjeollam/ pumjeollyeo doeda) – Man or woman who just got married

품절 (pumjeol) is another expression for sold out (매진 / maejin), coming from the hanja for product (품 / pum) and gone (절 / jeol). The words 품절남 (pumjeollam) and 품절녀 (pumjeollyeo) literally mean ‘sold-out man’ and ‘sold-out woman’, they refer to somebody (a celebrity or popular friend) who has just got married and is therefore off the market for dating.

It can be used with the verb 되다 (doeda) which means ‘to become’. For example, 품절녀가 됐어요 (pumjeollyeoga dwaesseoyo) means ‘she got married’.

To say ‘she got married’ you can also use the word 시집갔어요 (sijipgasseoyo) which is a real word (not Korean slang) literally meaning ‘she went to the in-laws house’. For guys, you can use 장가갔어요 (janggagasseoyo) instead.

8. 모쏠 (mossol) – Someone who has never had a boyfriend or girlfriend

모쏠 (mossol) is the shortened version of the word 모태솔로 (motae sollo). The first word 모태 (motae) means “mother’s womb. The second word 솔로 (sollo) sounds like “solo”, which means a person who has never been in a relationship.

Put them together, and you’ve got “someone who has been alone since birth”.

*gasp* Use this one with caution!

If you happen to be 모쏠 (mossol) and want to fight fire with fire, you can use 솔로천국 커플지옥 (sollocheonguk keopeuljiok). It’s aimed at couples, and means “Solo Heaven Couple Hell.” 

9. 극혐 (geukyeom) – Extreme disgust

Short for 극한의 혐오 (geukanui hyeomo), this phrase . 극한 (geukan) means “limit or extreme” and 혐오 (hyeomo) means “hatred, disgust or revulsion” so put them together and you’ve got a shortened phrase that means just that — extreme disgust!

Use this any time you want to point out that something is very disgusting or revolting, like when you venture into the weird parts of YouTube!

10. 밀당 (mildang) – Push and pull

This is a combination of the verbs 밀다 / mildang (to push) and 당기다 / danggida (to pull). However, in this case the words do not literally mean pushing and pulling as in a tug of war or a door.

This Korean slang word refers to the flaky actions people take in romantic relationships, “playing games” with each other where one minute they’re hot and the next they’re cold. You can also use this as a verb in the form 밀당하다 (mildanghada).

11. 맛점 (matjeom) – Delicious lunch

Short for 있는 심 (masinneun jeomsim), this word simply describes a “delicious lunch.” Want to describe a delicious dinner and sound cool doing so? Just use 맛저 (matjeo), short for 있는 녁 (masinneun jeonyeok)! Shortening things really is easy, isn’t it?

12. 만렙 (mallep) – Level 10,000

Another shortened phrase, 만렙 (mallep) is a combination of 만 / man (10, 000) and 레벨 / rebel (level). Have you ever played an RPG or strategy game like World of Warcraft where your character increases in level after making certain achievements?

This phrase refers to someone who is a master or something, and their level is so good it is like they have achieved the maximum level in a game! But don’t worry, you can use this phrase for anything — someone who is good at lifting weights, building things, or studying (not only games)!

13. 쪼렙 (jjorep) – Beginner level

This word is just the opposite of the previous! There are the masters, and then there are the beginners, or the “newbs.” This word is a slightly altered version of 쪼그만한 레벨 (jjogeumanhan rebel), meaning a small or low level.

Not good at tennis and want to let your partner know before the match starts? Let them know you’re 쪼렙 (jjorep) and you’ll be sure to get a laugh. 

14. 심쿵 (simkung) – Heartthrob (huge crush)

심쿵 (simkung) is like a type of emotional heart attack you feel when you see or think about your crush or someone you find extremely attractive! Remember it by knowing that 심장 (simjang) means “heart” and 쿵쿵 (kungkung) is the “thud” or “booming” sound your heartbeat makes! 

15. 댓츠노노 (daetcheunono) – That’s no no

댓츠노노 / daetcheunono (“that’s no no) is a Konglish phrase that originated on a popular TV program, and is sure to get laughs! You can use it anytime you disagree with someone or something, or want to say “no.”

16. 까도남 (kkadonam) – An abrasive city-man

Short for 까칠한 / kkachilhan (abrasive) 도시 / dosi (city) 남자 / namja (man), this word is used to describe a certain type of guy who is usually arrogant, rich and full of himself.

17. 대박 (daebak) – Awesome

You may well have heard this one a million times before, but it is still popular and widely used. 대박 (daebak) is an exclamation that’s meaning has changed from 대박나다 / daebangnada (to be very successful) to now mean “awesome” or “wow” or to describe anything that is shocking or amazing! 

18. 엄친아 / 엄친딸 (eomchina / eomchinttal) – Someone who is good at everything

Short for 엄마친구의 아들 / eommachinguui adeul (my mom’s friend’s son) or  엄마친구의 딸 / eommachinguui ttal (my mom’s friend’s daughter), these Korean slang phrases are used to describe “the perfect child” or someone who is good at everything.

It originates from the fact that Korean parents like to talk to their children about how “so and so’s” son or daughter did so well on his/her tests, got into a great school or just got a new job at a big company.

19. 행쇼 (haengsyo) – Let’s be happy

Short for 행복하십시오 (haengbokasipsio), this phrase just means “let’s be happy!” You can use it to suggest to others to cheer up and be happy while at the same time sounding cool.

Start using this one today, and you’ll be sure to make someones day.

20. 갑/갑이다 (gap / gabida) – The boss

This Korean slang word was popularized by a comedy program, and 갑 (gap) has come to mean “the boss” or the person with the power dynamic in a group.

갑 (gap)refers to a person who has a relative advantage or power in a particular phase. It can also simply means when something is ‘the best’, ‘above the others’.

You’ll often see this word in legal contracts, such as if you get a work contract. The words 갑 (gap) and 을 (eul) mean A and B, or the former and latter. 갑 (gap) is usually the one holding the power. 

What a great word. Make sure to use it like a 갑 (gap)! 

21. 현웃 (hyeonut) – LOL

From 실에서 음 (hyeonsireseo useum), this word means “laughter (웃음 / useum) in real life (현실에서 / hyeonsireseo).” This is equivalent to “laugh out loud” in English, and could be used, for example, while watching a video or reading a text message. It is used instead of just ㅋㅋㅋ to show you literally laughed out loud.

22. 빵터지다 (ppangteojida) – To laugh really loudly (like a bomb)

Very similar to 현웃 (hyeonut), 빵터지다 (ppangteojida) is a slang verb that means “to laugh really loud” with the emphasis being on the LOUD part! 터지다 (teojida) usually means “to burst” and 빵 (ppang) is the sound a gun or bomb makes. So when you put them together, you get the picture of someone who is laughing explosively!

23. 언플 (eonpeul) – Media play

This is a shortened version of 레이 (eonnonpeullei), which means “media play.” However, this is not all fun and games! In this case, 플레이 / peullei (play) is not referring to playing or fun, but rather to “manipulation.” It is used to express the act of using the media to create a beneficial image for a corporation or celebrity, etc.

24. 멘붕 (menbung) – Mental breakdown

Ever have a mental breakdown? You can express this idea with “멘붕”, which is a combo of 멘탈 / mental (mental) + 괴 / bunggoe (deconstruction or collapse).

In Korean, this is more often used to express yourself when your mental status is on the fritz! It’s used in various situations where this is the case. For example, you could say it when at the last minute you realize you have to work on the weekend and you have a huge date that you can’t cancel!

25. 헐 (heol) – OMG

This exclamation is usually used after something shocking or surprising is said or seen. It’s really similar to “OMG” in English! You’ll notice this piece of Korean slang used a lot in texting. 

26. 뭥미 (mwongmi) – What the heck / What is it?

This is a purposeful typo of 뭐임 (mwoim), which means “what is this?” or “what the heck“. When you are typing fast, you can easily input characters in the wrong order, and this internet slang rose out of this common misspelling! However, it still retains the same meaning! When you see something you are unsure of, you can say “이게 뭥미 (ige mwongmi)?”

27. 레알 (real) – Real/Really

This word means “real” and if you read it in Korean, you can see that it is actually the phonetic pronunciation of the same word in English! Use it in place of intensifiers like 진짜 / jinjja (really) and sound cool in the process!

28. 돌직구 (doljikgu) – To say or do directly

This word literally translates to “rock fastball” and that’s exactly what it’s meaning is intended to portray, although in this case we’re not talking about baseball! When someone says something in a very direct manner or behaves very forward, you can use the word 돌직구 (doljikgu) to describe it and in doing so, compare the action to throwing a fastball with a stone!

30. 짤 (jjal) – Photo

This is a new internet slang word that simply means “photo” and you can use it in place of 사진 / sajin (picture or photo).

31. 움짤 (umjjal) – Animated photo/GIF

You know those animated GIFs floating around the internet? In Korean, you can talk about them using the word 움짤 (umjjal)!

32. 리즈 (rijeu) – Your prime

From the expression 리즈 시절 (rijeu sijeol), this refers to the best looking time of your life when you are young and beautiful and in your prime! Shorten it down and just use the word 리즈 (rijeu) to describe this magical time that you never want to leave. 

33. 덕후 (deoku) – A person with an obsessive interest in something

From the Japanese word “otaku” that means a person who is “crazy about something.” In Japanese, this usually refers to a person who is obsessed with Japanese anime or anime characters.

However, it is now used in Korean to describe a person who has an obsessive interest in almost anything – celebrities, studying, movies, characters — you name it! It has a slightly negative connotation so be careful how you use it!

34. 꿀팁 (kkultip) – A great tip

Just like in the phrase 꿀잼 (kkuljaem), this phrase uses the word ‘honey’ (꿀 / kkul) to mean “really good.” This time it’s a 팁 / tip (tip) that’s being considered and this is not just any old tip!

In English, we may say “gold” or “golden” to denote something very valuable but in Korean, it’s “honey.” Use this when you give a great tip to someone or someone gives you advice or tips that are valuable!

35. 그린라이트 (geurillaiteu) – Green light (crush)

We’re not talking about traffic here, this “green light” is all about relationships! When someone is giving you the green light or showing interest in you and giving you the go ahead, you can use the word 그린라이트 (geurillaiteu) to describe them!

36. 불금 (bulgeum) – TGIF

Fire (불/ bul) Friday (요일 / geumyoil)! Much like we’d say “TGIF” on Friday as the week is winding down, Koreans say 불금 (bulgeum) as they get amped up for the weekend festivities! If you want to up your Korean slang game, then you can also use 불토 (bulto) as well for 불 (bul) + 토요일 (toyoil). 

37. 웃프다 (utpeuda) – Funny but sad

When something is funny (기다 / utgida) and sad (슬다 / seulpeuda) at the same time, you can use this combination word to describe that situation! Say you’re watching funny YouTube videos and you see a clip of a cute puppy falling down or wiping out (without getting hurt of course!), you could use 웃프다 (utpeuda) to describe it!

38. 개이득 (gaeideuk) – Big, unexpected benefit or profit

When you get something you didn’t expect that benefits you, you can say “개이득 (gaeideuk).” The word 개 (gae) is used a lot in slang words in Korean, and it literally means “dog.” However, in slang it is used as an intensifier like “crazily” or other *hrmm* more negative words in English. 이득 (ideuk) means “benefit or profit.”

39. 반사 (bansa) – Back at you

This is a funny term used to deflect someone’s insults or jokes towards you. Just say this word and it reflects their insult back to them like a mirror! It is a slightly childish and cheesy term. 

40. 고퀄 (gokwol) – High quality

Short for 고 / go (high) 리티 / kwolliti (quality), you can use 고퀄 (gokwol) to describe something that is of high quality! See some earrings at the store you like and notice they’re really well made? Boom! Perfect time for a “고퀄 (gokwol).”

41. 클래스 (keullaeseu) – World class

This word has now become more and more used and is simply the Korean pronunciation of the English word “class.” Here, we’re not talking about school, or social ranking, but it’s used to mean “world class” or “high level.”

42. 평타 (pyeongta) – Do something at an average level

From 평타치다 (pyeongtachida), it means to do something average (at least). For example, you can use this phrase to say you are not amazing at something, but you did average or as much as reasonably can be expected!

43. 음란 마귀 (eumnan magwi) – A person with a dirty mind

Everyone has that friend. They’re the person who always sees the innuendo in a situation or has a dirty mind. For them, you can use the phrase “음란 마귀 (eumnan magwi)” meaning “lewd devil.”

44. 병맛 (byeongmat) – Something so ridiculous that it gives you a funny taste in your mouth

This word literally means 신 / byeongsin (idiot) 맛 / mat (taste). You can say this when something looks stupid (but funny). From pop culture, some examples may be Napoleon Dynamite or Jackass, or anything that gives you that funny taste in your mouth because it’s so silly or stupid!

45. 칼군무 (kalgunmu) – Dancing perfectly in sync

K-pop and Korean pop culture have really taken off around the world in recent years, and this term is used to describe the dancing aspect of performances. When an idol group or a group of dancers is dancing like a knife (perfectly in sync) and they nail their performance, you may hear commentators use the Korean slang term 칼군무 / kalgunmu (knife group dance).

46. 역대급 (yeokdaegeup) – Legendary level / The best ever

This word means  “unprecedented” or “legendary level” and refers to someone or something that is the best ever. Use it to really emphasize how awesome something is!

47. 지린다 (jirinda) – To wet your pants

From the verb 지리다 (jirinda) meaning “to wet your pants”, this expression is used when something is just so cool that you wet your pants or feel like you could! 

48. 쩐다 (jjeonda) – Very cool

This comes from the old verb 절다 (jeolda), which means “to be be salted.” It became 쩔다 / jjeolda (or 쩐다 / jjeonda ) and in its slang form could take on the meaning “so salty and good” as if to say “very very cool.”

49. 포스 있다 (poseu itda) – To have “the Force”

When a person has a very strong character or aura, you may hear this term being tossed around. Ever see Star Wars? This phrase literally means to have “the Force.”

50. 썸 (sseom) – “Something” between two people

A noun used to describe that special “something” between two people who are not in a relationship but have feelings for one another. There is “something” (썸 / sseom)  between them.

The expression 썸타다 (sseomtada) or 썸을 타다 (sseomeul tada) is used when two people know each other before dating, and start to get along.

Use 썸남 (sseomnam /about men), and 썸녀 (sseomnyeo / about women) to describe someone you have feelings towards but   not formally dating.

51. 사랑꾼 (sarangkkun) – A person full of love

A person who expresses or shows their love a lot is a 사랑꾼 (sarangkkun). This is a person who is just filled up to the brink with love (the romantic kind or not)!

This word is also used as a sarcastic word for people who are constantly involved in dating rumors and scandals.

52. 베프 (bepeu) – Best friend

Do you have a 베프 (bepeu) to hang out with? This term is shortened from the Konglish phrase 베스트 프렌드 / beseuteu peurendeu (best friend). You can also say 절친 (jeolchin), shortened from 절친한 친구 / jeolchinhan chingu (literally ‘great friend’).

53. 케미 (kemi) – Chemistry

This word is a shortened form of the word “chemistry” in English – but we’re not talking about science here! This is for when there is “chemistry” between two people. In Korean, you can cut it down to a simple “케미 (kemi).”

54. 베이글녀 (beigeullyeo) – A baby-faced but glamorous girl

This word is a funny combination of the words baby face (베이 / bei) + glamor (글 / geul). 녀 (nyeo) just refers to a female. This is a girl who has a baby face that is cute an innocent, but an attractive, overly sexy or glamorous body. 

55. 셀카 (selka) – Selfie

This is short for 프 / selpeu (self) 메라 / kamera (camera), and means a “selfie” or to take a picture of yourself! Selfie sticks are all the rage nowadays and are called 셀카봉 (selkabong) in Korean.

56. 썰 (sseol) – Story

From the word 설 (seol) meaning “theory,” this Korean slang word has come to mean “story.” You can also use it as a verb in the form 썰을 풀다 / sseoreul pulda (to tell a story). 

57. 셀럽 (selleop) – Celebrity

This word is Konglish for the word “celebrity.” In Korean, they call celebrities or stars “연예인 (yeonyein)” but use this slang word to sound cool and trendy as you refer to your favorite star!

58. 선수 (seonsu) – Player

You may think: “Wait a minute, I have learned this vocabulary word before in my regular Korean studies!” and you would certainly be right. This word means “player” as in an athlete. However, when used in the slang form and referring to relationships, this refers the other meaning of “player” as in someone who dates around.

59. 득템 (deuktem) – An item you get for free or at a great bargain

Short for 이득 아이템 (ideuk aitem), this word means something you get for free or at a real bargain! For example, if you head out shopping and find a really great sweater at half off, that’s a 득템 (deuktem)! Also when you play video games (which are all the rage in South Korea) and get a free item, there’s another. YOINK!

60. 된장남 / 된장녀 (doenjangnam / doenjangnyeo) – An appearance-obsessed guy (or girl) who lives beyond their means

된장 (doenjang) is fermented bean paste that is often used in the cooking of Korean foods, including 된장찌개 / doenjangjjigae (bean paste stew) which is known to be very filling but cheap! The terms 된장남 / 된장녀 (doenjangnam / doenjangnyeo) refer to a guy (남 / nam) or girl (여 / yeo) who values expensive or superficial things despite being unable to afford them.

For example, a girl who dates an older, richer man to get free gifts, trips or plastic surgery or a man who lives in the most expensive area of the city despite having a less-than-average paying job could be called a 된장녀 (doenjangnyeo) or 된장남 (doenjangnam), respectively. These terms have negative connotations so use them sparingly!

61. 브금 (beugeum) – Background music

This word is short for “background music” and refers to any sort of jingle you might listen to in the background. You might hear it while studying, while working or while chilling out in the cafe! 

63. 깜놀 (kkamnol) – Surprise!

Short for 라다 / kkamjjak nollada (or 랐어요 / nollasseoyo), this term is used when you are shocked or startled. The verb 놀라다 (nollada) means exactly that – to be surprised, shocked or startled and the phrase 깜짝 놀라다 (kkamjjak nollada) means to be suddenly surprised! 

64. 버카충 (beokachung) – Bus card charge

Guess what, it’s another shortened phrase! This one is short for 전 / beoseu kadeu chungjeon (bus card charge) and has abbreviated because of it’s common usage. Most people use the bus or subway daily.

In South Korea, transportation cards for the bus and subway system need to be regularly charged with money, and next time you’re in town and need a 버카충 (beokachung), you can just look for the big machines in the subway stations!

66. 페북 (pebuk) – Facebook

This word is short for 이스(peiseubuk), which is the way Koreans say “Facebook” in English. It’s simply been shortened down, so if you want to sound cool and in the know, call it 페북 (pebuk) next time you’re chatting with your Korean friends!

You say 페북 탐라 (pebuk tamna) for the 페북 (pebuk) timeline. 탐라 (tamna)  is the shortened version of 타임라인 (taimnain).  Make sure to give 좋아요 (joayo, or “like”) when you see your favorite friends post on your 탐라 (tamna)!

67. 프사 (peusa) – Profile picture

Speaking of Facebook, everyone needs a profile picture for their favorite social media page! You can talk about that by using this Korean slang word, which is short for 로필 진 / peuropil sajin (profile picture).

68. 훈남 (hunnam) – A handsome and well-mannered guy

This comes from the descriptive verb 훈훈하다 (hunhunhada), which means “warm or heartwarming” plus 자 / namja (man). Commonly, handsome guys are referred to as 미남 (minam), so the term 훈남 (hunnam) is used to describe a guy who is both attractive physically and kind and warms you up just by looking at him. Want to describe a girl in a similar way? Use the term 훈녀 (hunnyeo).

69. 뇌섹남 (noesengnam) – A smart, attractive guy

This is another Korean slang term used to describe a certain type of guy! While the previous referred to a handsome and kind guy, this one will emphasize the intelligence aspect! Let’s break it down:

(noe) means “brain”

시하다 (seksihada) means “to be sexy”

자 (namja) means “man”

Put it all together, and you’ve got a got who is very smart and sexy. It’s good to be a nerd sometimes!

70. 아점 (ajeom) – Brunch

This is a combination of the words for breakfast (침 / achim) and lunch (심 / jeomsim). Like in English when we combine those two words, put them together and you’ve got a word that means “brunch.”

And if you eat a bit late in the day, you can use the word 점저 (jeomjeo), which is a combination of 점심 (jeomsim) and 저녁 (jeonyeok).

71. 안습 (anseup) – Watery eyeballs (from an embarrassing situation)

This is an abbreviation of 구에 기차다 (angue seupgichada), meaning “dampening of the eyeballs.” It’s a direct term used to describe when someone tears up from embarrassment or humiliation!

72. 금사빠 (geumsappa) – A person who falls in love easily

From 랑에 지는 사람 (geumbang sarange ppajineun saram), this term is used to describe a person who easily falls in love.

방 (geumbang) means “a short time” or “soon”

랑에 지다 (sarange ppajida) means “to fall in love”

사람 (saram) means “person.”

Do you know anyone like this?

73. 넘사벽 (neomsabyeok) – Something that cannot be overcome

Short for the phrase 을수 없는 (4)차원의 (neomeulsu eomneun sa(4)chawonui byeok), this term literally means “unclimbable wall.” It is used to refer to something that cannot be overcome or that is a big obstacle.

74. 지못미 (jimonmi) – Sorry I couldn’t protect you

From 켜주지 안해 (jikyeojuji mothae mianhae), meaning “sorry I couldn’t protect you,” this term is used most commonly when someone (usually a celebrity) turns out bad in a picture. Type this phrase as a hashtag in Instagram and you’ll find some examples!

75. 비번 (bibeon)  – Password

Short for 호 (bimilbeonho), meaning “password,” this word is used by the younger generation quite commonly in place of the full term.

76. 안물 (anmul) – I didn’t ask

This is short for 안물어봤어 (anmureobwasseo), meaning “I didn’t ask you.” It can be slightly rude and should only be used with those that are really close to you when you know they won’t be offended.

For example, maybe your friend is bragging about how good-looking they are or how many likes they got on their picture, and you use this phrase to say “I didn’t ask you” in a sort of funny way to tell them not to be arrogant.

77. 안궁 (angung) –  I’m not curious

Very similar to the previous, this is short for 안궁금해 (angunggeumhae), meaning “I am not curious.” You could use it in very similar circumstances to say “I am not curious.” 

78. 노답 (nodap) – No answer

Like in some of the other Korean slang terms,  노 (no) here is the same as “no” or “not” in English.

답 (dap) means “answer.”

So this phrase means “no answer” and can be used in any situation where there is no solution. By using it, you are inferring there is “no answer” to the problem or situation like a troublemaker for whom who there is no hope for.

79. 맥날 (maengnal) – McDonald’s

McDonalds special deals in KoreaThis is just a shortened phrase for 드 (maekdonaldeu), which is the Korean way to say “McDonald’s.” Next time you see the golden arches sign, you can refer to it as 맥날 (maengnal) to your friends!

80. 얼빠 (eolppa) – Someone who is drawn to good-looking people

From 굴에 지다 (eolgure ppajida), this term is used to describe a person who easily feels drawn to someone handsome or pretty.

81. 근자감 (geunjagam) –  Unfounded self-esteem

This term comes from the expression 거 없는 (geungeo eomneun jasingam) which literally means “self-esteem/confidence without grounds.” It is when someone has a huge ego or confidence about something but they really shouldn’t!

82. 드립치다 (deuripchida) – To make a joke

From “ad lib” (애드립 / aedeurip), this verb means “to make a joke” or “to make an absurd comment.”

Can't read Korean yet? Click here to learn for free in about 60 minutes!

Evergreen Korean Slang

Here are the cool Korean slang expressions and words that have stood the test of time and are still in use today. 

83. 내가 쏠게 (naega ssolge) – I’ll pay/treat

Korean for pay the bill

From the verb 쏘다 (ssoda), which means ‘to shoot (a gun / arrow etc.)’, the expression 내가 쏠게 (naega ssolge) means ‘I’ll pay’. You can say this at the end of a date if you want to impress your companion and take care of the check.

You could also use it at a bar with your friends. If you are a 구두쇠 / gudusoe (miser: literally ‘iron shoes’) then you might not want to learn this expression.

84. 일차, 이차, 삼차 (ilcha, icha, samcha) – Stage 1, stage 2, stage 3

A typical Korean night out, especially a company dinner (회식 / hoesik), can be separated into stages called 차 (cha). The first stage, 일차 (ilcha), involves a meal with some drinks to go with it. The second stage, 이차 (icha), often means going to a bar to continue drinking. The third stage, 삼차 (samcha), might involve going to a noraebang.

Although what each particular stage of the night consists of will depend on the particular people who are out that night. There may even be a 4차 (4cha) or 5차 (5cha) involving more food or beer and noodles outside a convenience store.

When it is time to move to the next stage you might hear people say something like 2차 갑시다 / i-cha gapsida) or 2차 가자 / icha gaja (let’s go to stage 2). If you are on a company dinner then these gaps between stages offer a good opportunity to make your excuses and go home / to a different bar away from your boss.

85. 짱 (jjang)! – Great or amazing

This sound effect means ‘great’ or ‘amazing’. You can just say it on its own, without putting it into a sentence. It is also sometimes used in order to make other slang words. A common one of these is 얼짱, which means great or amazing face (the 얼 comes from the word 얼굴). You can also say 몸짱 to describe somebody with an amazing body.

86. 얼짱 (eoljjang) – A good-looking person

When someone is really good-looking, you can say 얼짱 (eoljjang) to describe them! It’s a combination of 굴 / eolgul (face) and 짱 / jjang (another slang word meaning “great” or “the best”).

87. 몸짱 (momjjang) – A hot body

This word can be used to describe someone with a great body, like a guy who is quite fit and muscular or a girl who has a great figure! It is a combination of the word for “body” (몸 / mom) and 짱 / jjang which means “great” or “the best.”

88. 간지 난다 (ganji nanda): Great, stylish, awesome

This comes from the Japanese for 느낌 / neukkim (feelings) and so literally means ‘feeling is coming out’.

The phrase 간지 난다 (ganji nanda) means great, stylish, awesome, or 멋있다 (meositda). This phrase can be used to describe fashion, food, appearance, architecture, or even a skillful football move. It is quite a new slang word, and can be used in most situations as a replacement for the rather cheesy word 대박.

The opposite of this is 간지 안나 (ganji anna) which can be used jokingly to say something is awful. If you want to say somebody (such as a celebrity) is stylish, you can say 간지남 / ganjinam (for guys) or 간지녀 / ganjinyeo (for ladies).

89. 폭탄 (poktan) – Bomb or bomb cocktail

The Korean slang word 폭탄 (poktan) literally means ‘bomb’. It is used to describe something that is terrible, such as a piece of work that you have really messed up. It can also be used to describe a really really ugly person.

Another way to use 폭탄 (poktan) is by adding a 주 (ju) at the end to make 폭탄주 (poktanju). This is basically a cocktail of whatever random alcohol your friend managed to find and mix together. It is often a mix of beer, soju, whisky, maybe some vodka, and some other things. Watch out: It’s called 폭탄주 (poktanju) because it is dangerous like a bomb!

90. 왕따 (wangtta) – Outcast

You don’t want to be the 왕따 (wangtta)!

This is a person who has no friends and is bullied by everybody at school. They have to sit on their own because nobody wants to sit near them or be associated with them in any way at all. The bullying is often justified by saying ‘We did it because he/she is 왕따 (wangtta)’, as if being 왕따 (wangtta) means that you are denied human rights.

Almost every high-school drama in Korea will involve a 왕따 (wangtta) at some point in the storyline so listen out for the word. Unfortunately, despite teachers efforts to stop bullying, the phenomenon of 왕따 (wangtta) exists in the real world too.

91. 뻥치지마 (ppeongchijima)! – Don’t lie

This slang expression means ‘don’t tell a lie’.

뻥 (ppeong) means “lie”.

뻥을 치다 (ppeongeul chida) is the expression you use to express the idea of “telling a lie”.

The suffix ‘지마 (jima)’ is the informal version of ‘-지 마세요 (ji maseyo)’ which means ‘don’t’.

You should only use this expression with close friends, especially if the lie they are telling isn’t particularly serious. An example of this would be friend claiming that they can drink ten bottles of soju when you know that they can’t handle their alcohol. 뻥 치지마 (ppeongchijima)!

In situations where you’re not with close friends, you should use 거짓말하지 마세요 (geojinmalhaji maseyo) instead.

92. 바람둥이 (baramdungi) – Player 

A 바람둥이 (baramdungi) is a playboy who isn’t looking for a serious relationship, and may even be seeing multiple people at the same time. He will be gone as quickly as the wind (바람 / baram).

Girls will often tell their boyfriends not to be a 바람둥이 (baramdungi), although the word can be used to describe playgirls too.

A similar use of the word 바람 (baram) is the phrase 바람 맞았어요 (baram majasseoyo) which means ‘to be stood up’. A 바람둥이 (baramdungi) isn’t fully in a relationship yet. If somebody is in a relationship but they are cheating on their partner then you can use the word 양다리 / yangdari (meaning both-legs) which is the Korean slang for ‘two-timing’.

93. 꽝 /꽝이다 (kkwang /kkwangida) – Wrong/you lose

This word comes from the sound 꽝 (kkwang) which is like a banging or bashing kind of sound. It basically means ‘wrong’ or ‘you lose’.

Game shows in Korea often have some kind of ladder game (사다리 게임 / sadari geim) to determine what prize the contestants win (it is sometimes also played by friends or coworkers to determine who pays for lunch). If you get 꽝 (kkwang) it means you don’t win any prize.

The 꽝 (kkwang) sound is often accompanied by the tune from the drama ‘secret garden’ to further mock the losing contestant.

94. 놈 (nom) – Man or person

In the Korean movie “좋은놈, 나쁜놈, 이상한놈 (joeunnom, nappeunnom, isanghannom)”, the ‘nom’ (놈 / nom) in this title means ‘man’ or ‘person’. It is used as a suffix such as 미친놈 / michinnom (crazy person), or like the three examples in the movie title.

It usually has negative connotations, and you should only use it with really close friends who have a good sense of humor. In fact, in general you should remember that the Korean language is very hierarchical and you can only really use Korean slang with close friends. Whatever you do, don’t use it to introduce yourself to your partner’s parents for the first time, unless you like getting dumped!

95. 공주병 (gongjubyeong) – Princess disease

This literally means ‘princess disease’ (the male equivalent is ‘prince disease’ or 왕자병 / wangjabyeong). This is when somebody is acting like a spoiled little princess and constantly seeking attention and wanting their partner to buy them things.

As this word comes from hanja (Korean based on Chinese Characters), it has a similar sounding equivalent in Cantonese. This amusing video explaining the Cantonese equivalent explains the concept of 공주병 (gongjubyeong) quite well.

96. 붕어빵 (bungeoppang) – Two people that look or act the same

This can be used to suggest that two people look or act the same. It comes from the name of the bean paste filled pastries that resemble fish that you can buy from roadside stalls in winter.

The pastries are made using a press so they always look the same and are also the same on both sides, which is where this expression comes from.

97. 방콕 (bangkok) – Stay in your room

This Korean slang expression means ‘to stay in your room’, and is used when somebody is so tired or worn out that they plan to stay in their room all weekend or all vacation. If somebody uses this word to describe their vacation, don’t get confused and think that they are going to Thailand.

98. 알바 (alba) – A part-time job

This is a shortened phrase and comes from 아르바이트 (areubaiteu), which means “part-time job” in Korean. The word originally comes from the German word “arbeit”, meaning “work or labor.”

Bonus round: You can add 생 at the end of 알바 (alba) to make 알바생 (albasaeng). This refers to someone who is studying at school and also working part time. The 생 (saeng) comes from the word 학생 (haksaeng), which means “student”. 

You often see 알바생 (albasaeng) at 편의점 (pyeonuijeom / convenience stores), 피씨방 (pissibang / Internet cafe), and 카페 (kape / cafe) etc. Look out for those 알바생 (albasaeng) the next time you’re nearby a 대학교 (daehakgyo / university)!

99. 소맥 (somaek) – Soju + beer

Two of the most popular alcoholic drinks in Korea are (you guessed it) – soju and beer! What do you get when you mix the two in your glass? Why 소맥 (somaek) of course (주 + 주 = 소맥 / soju + maekju = somaek). Cheers!

100. 눈팅 (nunting) – Looking only, no chatting

You can use this word to describe chatting with your eyes and not speaking, or reading posts or forum threads and not leaving a comment or a trace of you being there!

눈팅 (nunting) is the combination of words ‘eye’ + ‘(chatting)ting’, originally started in online chatting room, to call people who just listen to other people’s conversations but not saying anything. so 눈팅하다 (nuntinghada) literally means to chat with eyes.

Now, the bigger meaning is that they only look and do not do things like posting or leaving a comment. These people are called 눈팅족 (nuntingjok), with 족 (jok) meaning ‘tribe’. Although the meaning is slightly different, 유령회원 (yuryeonghoewon / ghost member) is also used for those who clearly exist but is invisible in online community.

Next time you catch someone 눈팅 (nunting), encourage them to get in the conversation!

101. 당근 (danggeun) – Of course

This word, which literally means “carrot,” is used to mean “of course” because it sounds similar to the word for “당연하지 (dangyeonhaji)?” You can say “당근이지 (danggeuniji)?” 

 

Hopefully, you enjoyed this article on Korean slang. Of course, there are many other slang words and expressions out there.

If you want to stay up-to-date with new expressions then you can try using Naver’s open dictionary (search for ‘오픈사전 / opeunsajeon’) to learn some new words such as 셀카봉 / selkabong (selfie-stick) or 랜선여친 / raenseonyeochin (online girlfriend – from the word for LAN cable). Use these words to make Korean learning even more fun!

What are the best slang words that you have come across while learning Korean? Let us know in the comments below!

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    18 replies to "Korean Slang – 101 Popular Words & Phrases in 2019"

    • Nami

      I mean I’m okay with everything except the hyuk hyung it would just be better to me. It just makes me as a black person feel uncomfortable. Like you dont say anything to white or Mexican or Hispanic so why black people. Some people dont want to stand out and this makes me feel like trash. We already get weird looks and people try to touch us. But do you absolutely have to point out that we are black I would like to know why they dont name any other races. Is the person who wrote this Korean?

      • 90 Day Korean

        Thanks for your comment and feedback. It has a positive meaning in Korea. We updated the post with another useful slang word instead. ^^

    • 미친 여자

      I’ve seen someone use this before – 여*****. They used it like in a sentence where they expressed how much they like certain things. Not sure if it’s a slang or a curse word.

      • 90 Day Korean

        I can’t see the word you’re trying to ask. Can you rewrite the word, please?

    • Hanarine Wijadja

      What does 존버 mean? I read it a lot in twitter

      • 90 Day Korean

        Hi Hanarine! It means ‘존나 버티기’ (Hold on until the end). 존나 is slang for ‘very’, so you shouldn’t use it in a formal occasion. ^^

    • 1binmill

      I know that 지못미 from ikon ^^ their song “Apology”

    • Pop

      How about 조카? I often read this from comments section and I’m so puzzled what it actually means. Is it the same as 존나 or 존예?

      • 90 Day Korean

        Hi Pop! 조카 means ‘nephew or niece’, but as slang it means the same as 존나. But these slangs are quite vulgar, so it’s better to say 정말 for ‘very’. ^^

    • Eleanor Nicholls

      What about 콜 as in I’m in is that how you spell it

    • OkeyDokeyOh

      I’m in shock because now I know where Goo Jun Pyo’ s name came from. Our spoiled boy with Princess disease hahahaha

    • Claude

      ‘짤’ is the first syllabel of ‘짤림 방지 (prevention of being cut off (= being removed)’. Some Korean internet users used to add some interesting or hot pictures to prevent removal of his/her articale(s). I think if you add the origin of the word, it would definitely be more informative.
      ‘움짤’ is the abbreated form of ‘움직이는 짤 (moving 짤)’.

    • 루시

      but say “black btother” is racist… Sam okyere said it! please delete the meaning
      of 흑형. I dont want that people who learn koreanknows this racist word

      • 90 Day Korean

        Thanks for your comment! What do you suggest we put in place of it?

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