A How-To Guide for Korean Texting

Last Updated on September 5, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
A smartphone showing conversations

In this article, we’ll tell you all about Korean texting. You might have received a text from a friend in Korean, and you understand nearly nothing of what they’ve said? You’re not alone, and we’ve all had to deal with the same thing.

A smartphone showing conversations

We’ll give you some words and phrases that you’ll definitely run into from time to time when texting your Korean friends.

We’ll also show you a couple of tips for how to understand things you’ve never run into before.

Below is a free PDF guide for “Korean Texting” that you can download and take with you:

Korean Text Messaging

For texting, we’ll start with some of the Korean texting shorthand that you’ll run into on a daily basis and make you look more native as well.

The biggest tip we can give when trying to read Korean text messages if you don’t understand the word by itself is to read the message out loud. You’ll very often find that a lot of Korean text slang is, in fact, a word that you do know, just written faster or shorter to speed up texting.

If you want to really become a texting pro, you can try practicing typing Korean on your computer. Then you’ll have a better feel for how words are constructed in Hangeul.

Korean Text Slang Explained

For our example, we will be explaining the dialogue below.

Korean text conversation #1

A: 일욜에 만나~ (illyore manna)

B: 조아~ 늦게 만남 밥 먹자^^ (joa~ neutge mannam bap meokja)

일욜에 만나~ (illyore manna)

In Korean texting, this phrase can be translated as 일욜에 만나 (illyore manna).

Looking at the “에 만나 (e manna)” after “일욜 (illyol)” you can guess that this is either a place or time.

Koreans will often shorten all days of the week by changing the “요일 (yoil)” into “욜 (yol)”. So the above sentence means we’re meeting our friend on Sunday.

조아~ 늦게 만남 밥 먹자 (joa~ neutge mannam bap meokja)

And in response to our friend above, a simple: “조아” (joa) will get the point across. This is only missing the “ㅎ,” and the pronunciation doesn’t change at all so is the most obvious one we’ll do today (좋아 | joa).

We’ve also added “늦게 만남 밥 먹자” (neutge mannam bap meokja). Here, the new short part is the “만남” (mannam).

To explain, Koreans will often shorten the “-면 (- myeon)” grammar point to simply adding the “ㅁ” onto the final syllable.

Korean text conversation #2

But maybe we’re busy Sunday, and we’d rather meet sooner. Here’s another set of dialogue:

A: 일욜에 만나~ (illyore manna)

B: 낼 어때? (nael eottae)

A: 안돼.. 난 낼에 시험 있잖아 OTL (andwae.. nan naere siheom itjana OTL)

B: 알써~ 홧팅! (alsseo~ hwatting)

낼 어때? (nael eottae)

We can use almost exactly the same shortening rule as above and instead ask:

“낼 어때 (nael eottae)?”  So how does tomorrow work for you?

(낼 = 내일 | nael = naeil).

안돼.. 난 낼에 시험 있잖아 OTL (andwae.. nan naere siheom itjana OTL)

Unfortunately, our friend can’t meet tomorrow:

“안돼.. 난 낼에 시험 있잖아 OTL (andwae.. nan naere siheom itjana OTL)”.

They’ve got a test tomorrow, but what’s with the “OTL?” In this case, we aren’t shortening anything, but are getting creative with the shapes of the letters. OTL looks like a person on their hands and knees hanging their head in defeat.

OTL Meaning in Korean

알써~ 홧팅! (alsseo~ hwaiting)

Finally, to finish this off, let’s tell our friends that we understand and that they’ll do fine by saying “알써~ 홧팅! (alsseo~ hwatting).”

A common way to say “ok” or “I got it?” in Korean is “알았어” (arasseo).

And the same goes for “홧팅” (hwatting), just shorting a syllable from “화이팅” (hwaiting), or “you can do it!”

Cute Korean Texting

There are other times when Koreans will simply misspell words in their text messages to sound cute or playful. It’s just one aspect of Korean aegyo. This isn’t shortening it at all, but the same general rule will apply where you should just be able to read it aloud to figure out the meaning.

Here we have changes like :

Original SpellingCute version
이쁘다 (ippeuda)이뿌다 (ippuda)
먹어야지 (meogeoyaji) 먹어야쥐 (meogeoyajwi)
미안 (mian)먄 (myan)
안녕(annyeong) 안뇽(annyong)

Or the most common method is adding the “ㅇ” (ng) or “ㅁ” (m) sound to the end of the “요” (yo) ending.

Original SpellingCute version
지금 갈게요(jigeum galgeyo)지금 갈게용 (jigeum galgeyong)
집에 왔어요 (jibe wasseoyo)집에 왔어욤 (jibe wasseoyom)

Korean Texting Shortcuts

Next, sometimes in texts, you’ll just see a few letters thrown together with seemingly no meaning. These are the toughest to figure out without context, but hopefully, in your text messages, you’ll be able to piece the puzzles together.

These random-looking letters are generally just the first letter from each syllable in the word you or your friend is trying to say and are usually used as the full message (i.e. not often combined in longer sentences). Here are a few of the most common, with the shortened form, the real word, and what it means.

Shortened FormReal WordWhat It Means
ㅇㅇYes
ㅇㅋ오케이OK
ㄳ / ㄱ ㅅ감사Shortened "thank you"
ㄱ ㅊ괜찮아(요)It’s ok
ㅊ ㅋ축하해요Congratulations
ㄴ ㄴ노노No No
ㅇ ㄷ어디Where is it/are you?

Finally, the toughest part you’ll often run into with texting your Korean friends is that they often do not use any spaces between their words. This means you’ll get a huge clump of text to decipher. Just take it slow, and you should be able to find where each word and the next begins.

Keep practicing, keep texting, and keep learning about the intricacies of Korean culture. You’ll be texting like a native in no time!

이거다 이해함 존 학생이 영~ ㅅㄹㅎ  (igeoda ihaeham jon haksaengi yeong~ saranghae)

Use these abbreviations along with some Korean emoticons, and you’ll be all set! And if you still don’t know how to read the Korean alphabet, you can check our guide here.

How to Use Korean Keyboard

When chatting or texting with your friends, you’ll need to know how to use a Korean keyboard. However, this will be easy when you know the basic Korean letter combinations.

The video below will teach you how to use the Korean keyboard or how to type in Korean on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Typing in Korean: Learn how to type on your phone, tablet, & computer

Korean Text App

Now that you know the basics of texting in Korean, why don’t you try it yourself?

The most popular Korean texting app used in South Korea is called “KakaoTalk” (and you can score easy points if you know a lot about it). Downloading and installing Kakao is a great place to start! It’ll be very useful when you visit or stay in Korea!

Texting in Korean is a fantastic way to learn the language. We’ve got a complete guide on how to learn Korean here: https://www.90daykorean.com/learn-korean/. Here’s an overview of the Korean language: https://www.90daykorean.com/korean/.

Have some favorite texts you often use in Korean? Share it with us in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Bigstock.com

    36 replies to "A How-To Guide for Korean Texting"

    • Avatar for Daniel Daniel

      Hey I’ve seen these people text online saying for example: something 찾았슴 or 싸게해드림 why do they add the ㅁ sound

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        -ㅁ or -음 ending means that there is no formality. It is usually for notices, memo or reports, where you note something rather than speak.

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