Korean Terms of Endearment

Illustration of couple embracing next to a tree with hearts for leaves

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Do you know Korean terms of endearment for your loved one? In Korea, it’s quite common for people to use words like “honey” and “babe” to refer to your significant other, rather than using their name.

So if you’re learning Korean, married to a Korean, or just want fun words to tease your friends with, let’s learn some Korean terms of endearment.

Illustration of couple embracing next to a tree with hearts for leaves

All of the Korean terms of endearment below will be in Hangeul (Korean Alphabet) with romanized English next to it. We recommend learning the Korean alphabet so you can learn these terms faster and have accurate pronunciation.

Being able to read the Korean alphabet will help you retain the core Korean words you should learn first. It will also improve your overall Korean language learning plan.

자기야 (jagiya)

Perhaps the most popular of the Korean terms of endearment between couples, it means “honey”, “darling” or “baby”. You can also just shorten it to 자기 (jagi). Use this term along with Korean love phrases.

Example Sentences:

자기야, 사랑해. → I love you, darling.

(jagiya, saranghae.)

미안해, 자기야. 용서해줘. → I’m sorry, darling. Forgive me.

(mianhae, jagiya. yongseohaejwo.)

내 사랑 (nae sarang)

This term of endearment can directly be translated as “my love.” It is similar to 자기야 (jagiya) with how couples use it.

Example Sentences:

잘 가요, 내 사랑. → Goodbye, my love.

(jal gayo, nae sarang)

그는 하나뿐인 내 사랑이에요. → He is my only love.

(geuneun hanappunin nae sarangieyo.)

여보 (yeobo)

This translates as “honey” or “darling”. It is used exclusively between married couples.

Example Sentences:

여보, 생일 축하해. → Happy birthday, honey.

(yeobo, saengnil chukahae)

여보, 괜찮아? → Are you okay, honey?

(yeobo, gwaenchana?)

애인 (aein)

“Sweetheart” is the closest translation for this term of endearment. It’s gender neutral, so anyone can use it with their partner.

Example Sentences:

애인 있어요? → Do you have a sweetheart?

(aein isseoyo?)

애인 없어요. → I don’t have a sweetheart.

(aein eopseoyo.)

공주님 (gonjunim)

“Princess” is a term of endearment a man can use when speaking with his girlfriend. The word 공주(gonju) means princess, and the 님 (nim) part is a formal title. It’s similar to referring to your girlfriend as if she’s royalty.

Example Sentences:

우리 공주님을 위해서라면 무엇이든. → Anything for my princess.

(uri gongjunimeul wihaeseoramyeon mueosideun.)

오늘따라 예뻐보여요 공주님. → You look pretty today, princess.

(oneulttara yeppeoboyeoyo gongjunim.)

왕자님 (wangjanim)

Like princess for women, “prince” is what some girls and women may use with their boyfriend. The 님 (nim) suffix is used as a title of respect. Even if the couple talks formally to each other, the 님 (nim) suffix makes the term of endearment seem more kind and caring.

Example Sentences:

당신은 나의 왕자님이에요. → You are my prince.

(dangsineun naui wangjanimieyo.)

우리 왕자님, 너무 멋져보여요. → You look so cool, my prince.

(uri wangjanim, neomu meotjyeoboyeoyo.)

오빠 (oppa)

Although the literal translation for this word is “brother”, it has deeper meaning. It’s also a common term of endearment for girls and women to use with their boyfriends and husbands. It’s used both directly with your partner and when talking about him to others.

When saying this term of endearment, be sure to add in some aegyo for additional cuteness!

Example Sentences:

오빠가 있어서 든든해. → I feel safe/secure to have you.

(oppaga isseoseo deundeunhae.)

오빠가 보고 싶어요. → I miss you.

(oppaga bogo sipeoyo.)

서방님 (seobangnim)

Or 서방 (seobang) more informally, this term simply translates as “husband”. It has deep historical roots in Korean, although you’ll perhaps hear it more for son-in-laws than husbands in modern day Korea.

Example Sentences:

서방님, 집에 일찍 들어오세요. → (Husband) Please come home early.

(seobangnim, jibe iljjik deureooseyo.)

서방님, 식사하세요. → (Husband) Please eat, your meal is ready.

(seobangnim, siksahaseyo.)

X 엄마 / X 아빠 (X eomma / X appa)

Once a couple has kids, they occasionally start calling them as their child’s mom or dad. You should use the name of the child in place of the “X”. It’s meant to be a bit cute, but also practical. These terms of endearment could also be used by people outside of immediate family.

Example Sentences:

영수 엄마는 선생님이에요. → Youngsoo’s mom is a teacher.

(yeongsu eommaneun seonsaengnimieyo.)

지수네 아빠는 소방관이에요. → Jisoo’s dad is a firefighter.

(jisune appaneun sobanggwanieyo.)

How to talk about your partner with others?

You wouldn’t use most of the above terms of endearment when talking about your partner. Instead, you’d simply call them “husband” (남편| nampyeon), “wife” (아내 | anae / 와이프 | waipeu), “boyfriend” (남친 | namchin) and “girlfriend” (여친 | yeochin).

If you liked these Korean terms of endearment, you may want to check out our page on Korean love phrases. It’s a great companion to use with the words you learned here.

Now that you’ve learned these Korean terms of endearment, you can shine by showing your significant other what you know! Listen for them in Korean movies and dramas, and you may find yourself relying less and less on subtitles.

Let us know in the comments which of these Korean terms of endearment you’ll be the most excited to use!

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