How to say “Work” in Korean

Last Updated on January 8, 2023 by 90 Day Korean
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Thinking of making a move to Korea and curious what your options are? Learning to say “work” in Korea will make your life much easier! After all, most people move there after landing a new job.

We’ll teach you how, with examples and audio, so you can add this new vocabulary to your repertoire.

Let’s get to work!

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“Work” in Korean

The base verb for “work” in Korean is 일하다 (ilhada). 하다 (hada) means “to do.” So that means the word 일 (il) means “job” or “work” – it can also be used interchangeably for these words as a noun.

일 + 하다 (il + hada) together literally means “to do work.”

 일하다 (ilhada)

to do work

Other ways to say “work” in Korean

Another way to say “work” in Korean is 근무하다 (geunmuhada). This is actually the closest word to “work.” 

Sample sentence:

우리 회사에서는 일주일에 6일을 근무해야해. (uri hoesaeseoneun iljuire 6ireul geunmuhaeyahae.)

In our company, you must work 6 days a week.   

일하다 (ilhada) is the general word for “work” and can be used to describe where you work, what kind of work you do, etc.

On the other hand, 근무하다 (geunmuhada) is limited to describing when you are at work or when you are working.

Sample sentence:

저는 삼성전자에서 일해요. (jeoneun samseongjeonjaeseo ilhaeyo.)

I work for Samsung Electronics.

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작업하다 (jageopada) also means “work.” However, rather than being a general word for “work,” it is usually used to mean a certain operation, process, or something similar.

The words 작업 (jageop) and 작업하다 (jageopada) are especially used for painters, other types of artists such as musical artists, as well as carpenters, those working in architecture, and so on.

Sample sentence:

난 벌써 5년동안 화가로 작업하지 않았어. (nan beolsseo 5nyeondongan hwagaro jageopaji anasseo.)

For already five years, I haven’t worked as a painter.

직장을 다니다 (jikjangeul danida) also means “work.” In this case, it is typically used to describe yourself or someone else working an office job specifically.

Sample sentence:

작년부터 직장을 다니게 되었어요. → (jangnyeonbuteo jikjangeul danige doeeosseoyo.)

I began working last year.

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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 much easier, and the country won’t appear so foreign to you. So, if you’re serious about learning Korean, why not learn Hangeul today?90DayKorean - Illustration of young women at a job interview

Wrap Up

If you liked this and are curious about the Korean language, check out our full language writeup here: https://www.90daykorean.com/korean/

Perhaps you’ve come across this article as you’re curious about South Korea and what the usual jobs there are called in Korean. If so, we have a separate article dedicated to the vocabulary on jobs in Korean.

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