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.
So today you’ll learn with us how to say “snack” in Korean. Then you can spice up your snacking life!
The words and phrases below are all written using Hangeul (Korean Alphabet) and in romanized English. If you want to improve your pronunciation and learning speed, then grab your free guide on how to learn the Korean Alphabet here. You’ll be reading Hangeul before your next meal!
Different ways to say “Snack” in Korean
There are two words that you can use to say “snack” in Korean.
The first and main word for “snack” in Korean, according to the dictionary, is 간식 (gansik). This comes from a combination of two words: the adjective 간단하다 (gandanhada), meaning simple, and 식사 (siksa), meaning meal. Combining the first syllable of both gets you 간식 (gansik) with the meaning “snack.”
This word covers snack foods all the way to street food like 떡볶이 (tteokbokki), aka Korean rice cakes. The usage also tends to revolve more around that than in reference to snacks like Pepero, or other chips and candy.
오늘 배고프지 않아서 간식만 먹었어요. (oneul baegopheuji anhaseo ganshikman meokeosseoyo.)
I wasn’t hungry today so I only ate a snack.
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 (gansik), you may not use it to refer to street food or the equivalent.
편의점에 과자를 사러 갈까? (phyeonijeome gwajareul sareo galkka?)
Shall we go buy some snacks from the convenience store?
In short, perhaps the best way for you to remember these two words would be by using 간식 (gansik) when you’re speaking of street foods or other salty meals like snacks such as 라면 (ramyeon) and using 과자 (gwaja) when you want to mean chips, candy, cookies, and the sort.
If you liked these words, then you’ll definitely want to check out our list of the essential Korean vocabulary words you should learn first. Go here to find out what they are.
Associations for “Snack” in Korean
As we said above, we should remember 간식 (gansik) for street food and 과자 (gwaja) for everyday snacks.
Let’s make some associations to help us easily remember these Korean words.
간식 (gansik) 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 (gansik).
과자 (gwaja) 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 (gwa) meaning fruit, or something sweet
子 – 자 (ja) 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 (hanja) is a great way to understand Korean better and make stories to memorize vocabulary.
Learning Korean is fun and easy when you have the right tools and resources. Here is what we recommend.
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?
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? Are there other Korean food words you’re itching to learn? Let us know in the comments below!