Sports in Korean – Words for physical activities you’ll enjoy

Learning the different vocabulary and phrases for sports in Korean can be enjoyable! It’s because sports are common to people worldwide, making it a good conversation starter. Therefore, it can open you up to many fun conversations and bonding opportunities with your Korean friends!

three boys playing soccer

In this post, we will be learning Korean words related to sports. If you do not yet know how to read and write in the Korean language, we recommend learning the Korean alphabet first and then returning to this lesson.

How to say “sports” in Korean?

The word for “sports” in the Korean language is 스포츠 (seupocheu). In the table below, we will also learn Korean words for each common sport that people often play, watch, or talk about.

In addition, we will teach some Korean phrases so you can easily start chatting with your friends about the topic. Let’s begin!

Sports Words in Korean

Do you have any sports that you like to spend time playing? Or is there perhaps a sport you like to follow on TV? Here are some of the sports in English that you might know of, along with their Korean words divided into different categories.

Illustration Featuring Kids Holding Different Sports Gear
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Ball Games in Korean

Many people are fans of ball games globally. It’s one of the most popular types of sports in Korea too. These sports are played with a ball, depending on the specific sport, which should be directed toward the goal area to gain points. We’ve listed some of these sports below and what they are called in Korean.

soccer, football (chukgu)
basketball (nonggu)
volleyball (baegu)
baseball (yagu)
American football (misikchukgu)
handball (haendeubol)
lacrosse (rakeuroseu)
golf (golpeu)
rugby (reokbi)

“Baseball” in Korean

Another popular sport in Korea is baseball. This sport is called 야구 (yagu) in Korean.

“Soccer” in Korean

The word for “soccer” in Korean is 축구 (chukgu). The same term is used for “football.”

Racket Sports in Korean

Racket sports are the type of sports that uses a racket to hit a shuttlecock or a ball. Below is what they are called in Korean.

table tennis (takgu)
tennis (teniseu)
badminton (baedeuminteon)
cricket (keuriket)

“Badminton” in Korean

The Korean word for “badminton” is 배드민턴 (baedeuminteon).

In this sport, players hit the shuttlecock, which is called 셔틀콕 (syeoteulkok) in Korean.

Water Sports in Korean

If you enjoy being in the water, you’ll probably want to play the sports below.

scuba diving (seukubeo daibing)
swimming (suyeong)
water polo (sugu)
rafting (raepeuting)
windsurfing (windeuseoping)
surfing (seoping)

Winter Sports in Korean

As some countries have the winter season, winter sports also come with it. Here are some of them, along with their Korean terms.

ice skating (seukeiteu)
skiing (seuki)
snowboarding (seunobodeu tagi)
ice hockey (aiseuhaki)
curling (keolling)

Combat Sports in Korean

Combat sports are typically played one-on-one between physically competitive players. Korea’s national sport, Taekwondo, falls under this category too.

taekwondo (taegwondo)
boxing (gwontu)
wrestling (reseulling)

“Taekwondo” in Korean

As a sport that originated in Korea, “taekwondo” sounds the same in Korean and English. In Hangul, it is written as 태권도 (taekwondo).

This sport is also taught in most schools in Korea.

Action Sports in Korean

Action sports, also called “extreme sports,” are known to be highly-risky sports.

skateboarding (seukeiteubodeu tagi)
parkour (pakureu)
rock climbing (ambyeok deungban)

Outdoor Sports in Korean

Due to sports being physical in nature, most of them are done outdoors. Here are some of the other outdoor sports in Korean.

archery (yanggung)
horseback riding (seungma)
running달리기 (dalligi)
cycling (jajeongeotagi)
hockey (haki)
frisbee (peuriseubi)

“Archery” in Korean

The Korean word for “archery” is 양궁 (yanggung), while “archer” in Korean is 양궁선수 (yanggungseonsu).

Other Sports in Korean

Here are the rest of the sports that are not necessarily done outdoors. Some of these are sports played in the Olympics.

billiard (danggu)
bowling (bolling)
dancing (chum)
gymnastics (chejo)
cheerleading (eungwon)
weightlifting (yeokdo)

Other sports vocabulary in Korean

Lastly, here are other words related to sports in Korean.

sports (seupocheu)
watching sports (seupocheubogi)
match, game (gyeonggi)
arena경기장 (gyeonggijang)
athlete운동선수 (undongseonsu)
captain주장 (jujang)
champion챔피언 (chaempieon)
coach코치 (kochi)
final round
결승 (gyeolseung)
competition대회 (daehoe)
scoreboard득점판 (deukjeompan)
score점수 (jeomsu)

Korean phrases about sports

Here are some Korean phrases that you can practice for a good icebreaker. You won’t only get to learn Korean, but you could also meet several new friends in the process.

Do you like sports? (formal) seupocheureul joahaseyo?
Do you like sports? (neutral)
seupocheureul joahaeyo?
I like sports. I especially like soccer. seupocheureul joahaeyo. teuki chukgureul joahaeyo.
Which sports do you like?

eotteon seupocheureul joahaeyo?
Which sports do you like?
museun seupocheureul joahaeyo?
I like dancing.chum chuneun geo joahaeyo.
I am good at baseball.

jeoneun yagureul jalhaeyo.
I am not good at bowling.
jeoneun bollingeul jal mothaeyo.
Watching sports is the most fun.
seupocheubogineun jeil jaemiisseoyo.
I watch all the basketball games. jeoneun modeun nonggu gyeonggireul bwayo
I don't know how to swim.
jeoneun suyeongeul hal jul mollayo
Do you want to play badminton this weekend? ibeonjumare baedeuminteoneul hareo gallaeyo?

What are the main sports in Korea?

European football, ice hockey, and various Olympic games are popular to play and watch worldwide. And Koreans are no different! There are plenty of sports enjoyed by Koreans both from North and South.

Illustration Featuring a Team of Baseball Players
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In South Korea, people like to watch and play sports, most especially baseball and football. These are considered the most popular sports in Korea, with national teams competing globally, representing South Korea.

Other popular sports in the country are ball games such as basketball and volleyball. Koreans are also fond of playing golf, swimming, ice hockey, and taekwondo.

What is the national sport of South Korea?

The national sport in South Korea is 태권도 (Taekwondo). This sport is a Korean martial art that is characterized by punching and kicking systematically. Beyond that, it teaches heavy discipline by training the body and the mind, which helps one improve not only physically but mentally.

This sport is a great way to learn self-defense as it teaches you how to defend and attack without using any weapons, just your feet and fists. Taekwondo has also been recognized as a global sport and has become an official game in the Olympics.

Sports in North Korea

North Korea is known to be a country isolated from the world. However, North Koreans enjoy playing sports as much as everyone else. In fact, North Korea teamed up with South Korea for the women’s ice hockey match in the Winter Olympics in 2018.

Similar to South Korea, football is also quite popular in the North. They have participated in FIFA World Cup matches and also held domestic football leagues. Other sports in North Korea are ice hockey, basketball, golf, gymnastics, and taekwondo.

Traditional Korean Sports

Apart from the sports listed above, Korea also has some traditional sports that are still played up to date.

Kite Flying

The first one is kite flying or 연날리기 (yeon nalligi). It may sound like a children’s game, but this is considered a sport in East Asia. Traditional Korean kites are made of bamboo sticks and Korean paper.

Kite Flying event in Korea
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Another traditional Korean sport is bullfighting or 소싸움 (sossaum), which is just how it sounds like, two bulls fighting each other. The bull who can successfully push the other back through head-butting wins the match. This is also popular among people who bet on bulls that they think will win.

Korean wrestling

Korean wrestling, or 씨름 (ssireum), is a traditional sport similar to Japan‘s sumo wrestling. The contenders grab onto each other’s belt, and the one who can bring any part of the opponent’s body above the knee to the ground wins.

Wrap Up

Congratulations, now you know many words and phrases to use when talking about sports in the Korean language! This way, you can talk about your sports preferences, bond with Koreans over their love for soccer and baseball, or even try the Korean martial art taekwondo when in Korea.

If you’re more eager to learn Korean now, we have plenty more posts for Korean words to learn!

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