How To Say ‘Work’ In Korean

Last Updated on September 10, 2021 by 90 Day Korean
90DayKorean - A group of workers socializing

Thinking of making a move to Korea and curious what your options are? Most people move there after landing a new job. So learning how to say ‘work’ in Korea will make life much easier for you!

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

Let’s get to work!

90DayKorean - A group of workers socializing

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

‘Work’ in Korean

The base verb for how to say ‘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 mean ‘to do work’.

 일하다 (ilhada)

to do work

There are also a handful of 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’.

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.

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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, and other types of artists such as musical artists, as well as for carpenters, those working in architecture, and so on.

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.

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?

Sample Sentences90DayKorean - Illustration of young women at a job interview

Standard Korean Example Sentences

You can use these sentences in just about every situation, they’re considered polite.

1. 저는 삼성전자에서 일해요. → I work for Samsung Electronics.

   (jeoneun samseongjeonjaeseo ilhaeyo.)

2. 작년부터 직장을 다니게 되었어요. → I began working since last year.

   (jangnyeonbuteo jikjangeul danige doeeosseoyo.)

Informal Korean Example Sentences

This style of speaking is used with friends, family, or others that you're close with.

1. 우리 회사에서는 일주일에 6일을 근무해야해. → In our company, you must work 6 days a week.

   (uri hoesaeseoneun iljuire 6ireul geunmuhaeyahae.)

2. 난 벌써 5년동안 화가로 작업하지 않았어. → For already five years I haven’t worked as a painter.

   (nan beolsseo 5nyeondongan hwagaro jageopaji anasseo.)


If you liked this and are curious about the Korean language, check out our full language writeup here:


Want more Korean phrases? Click here for a complete list!

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