10 Korean Slang that Will Immediately Make You Sound More Native

10 Korean Slang that Will Immediately Make You Sound More Native
There are words that never appear in your Korean textbooks that are nevertheless crucial in holistically understanding what your Korean friend/drama/tv-show is saying. Here are 10 slangs that are commonly used in vernacular Korean. 
Read my 2014 Edition of Korean Slang here!

1) 대박 [Dae-bak] – Most often used to express the idea of gaining a big fortune. An English equivalent may be “jack-pot” because this phrase is sometimes used in association with gambling. When someone opens a business, people will wish them “Dae-bak” by saying “대박나세요!” [dae bak na se yo!] It can be used to express both positive and negative emotional extreme.


A) 어제 파티어땠어?
[eo je pa ti eo ttaess eo?]
How was the party last night?
B) 대박이였어
[dae bag i yeoss eo]
It was great!

A) 제니가 소개시켜준 여자어때? 
[Jeni ga so gae si kyeo jun yeo ja eo ttae?]
How was the girl that Jenny introduced you to?
B) 대박이야!
[Dae bag i ya!]
depends on the tone and facial expression. Either she was awesome or terrible.

One of Daesung’s (Member of a top idol group, Bigbang) title song was “Dae Bak i ya” [It’s awesome]

2) 훈남/훈녀[Hum nam/Hum neo] – This term refers to a person who is charming and gives off a soft/gentle aurora. Usually, they look responsible. This term originates from the phrase, 훈훈하다 [hun hun ha da], which means heart-warming. In other words, looking at Hun nam/ hun neos will warm your heart. Another popular two words used for attractive people are 미남 美男 [mi nam]/미녀 美女[minyeo], but these two phrases compliments only physical attractiveness while 훈남/훈녀 is more than just looking good. People that are referred to as 훈남/훈녀 are usually more charming/kind looking than good looking.

요즘은 미남보다는 훈남이 인기가 더많죠.
[Yo jeum eun mi nam bo da neun hun man i in gi ga deo manh jyo].
Now a days, charming guys are more popular than hot guys.

박태환 [Park Tae hwan], a swimmer in the national swimming team, is a well known Hun-nam in Korea.

3) 엄친아 [Um-chin-ah]/ 엄친딸 [Um-chin-dtal] – This is an abbreviated term from the phrase “엄마친구의 아들/딸” which means my mom’s friend’s son. Um from Mom [Um-ma], Chin from Friend [Chin-gu] and ah from son [Ah-deul] or dtal from the word daughter. It’s used to call guys/girls who are good at everything.

Why my mom’s friend’s son? Because Korean moms (Just like any moms, really) like to compare their children with other mom’s children. You’ll often hear Korean moms talk about another mom’s son to their son. It goes something like this, “You know my friend Heejung, right? Well, her son was elected by the government to go to Italy this year for a math competition and he is 182 cm tall. Do you still not want to go to the math cram school?”

걔 학벌도좋고, 착하고, 완전 잘생겼어.엄친아야.
[Gyae hak beol do joh go, chak ha go, wan jeon jal saeng gyeoss eo. Eom chin a ya]
He has a great educational background, nice, and super attractive. He’s an eom chin a.

김태희 [Kim Tae Hee], a famous Korean actress is often referred as Korea’s representative Um-chin-dttal. She graduated from Seoul National University (UofT of Korea), succeeded in her career as an actress, and is also super pretty.

4) 행쇼 [Haeng-syo] – This phrase, popularized by Korea’s music/fashion/trend icon G-dragon, is a shorten word for 행복하십쇼 [haeng bok ha sip syo] which means “Be happy” in honorifics. It’s used to say goodbye – English equivalent would be “Peace”- or literally “Be happy”.

G-dragon explaining what “Hang syo” means in Muhan Dojeon [Infinite Challenge], Korea’s top TV show

미쉘이랑마이클결혼한데 – 행쇼!
[mi swer i rang ma i keul gyol hon han de – haeng syo!]
Michelle and Michael are getting married – be happy!

나먼저갈께, 행쇼.
[Na meon jeo gal kke, haeng syo]
I’m going to leave first, peace.

[Nae chin gu deul ji geum haeng syo bun wi gi nae.]
My friends are having so much fun right now.

5) 얼추 [eol chu] – roughly, approximately.

[Da hae seo eol chu eol ma ya?]
How much is it approximately in total?

오늘 회의얼추300명은 온거같에.
[o neur hoe ui eol chu sam baek myeong eun on geo gat e.]
There’s roughly 300 attendees to today’s meeting.

6) 갑이다/을이다 [gab i da/ eur i da] – Gab/Eur are words used to express the power dynamic between two people or groups. Gab represents the person with more power, and eur is the subjugated. It originally comes from the legal terminology, but is now used to talk about any relationships such as boss/subordinate, women/men, adult/child etc. This usage was popularized by a segment of a comedy show called Gag Concert called, “Gab/Eur company” where the comedians used satire on Korea’s corporate culture.

그래, 너가나보다뭐든지잘하네. 너가갑이고 내가을이야.
[Geu rae, neo ga na bo da mwo deum ji jal hae ne. Neo ga gab i go, nae ga eur i ya.]
Yes, you are better than me at everything. You are gab and I am eur.

결혼전에는, 여자가 갑이지. 결혼후에는 남자가 갑이고.
[gyeol hon jeon e neun, yeo ja ga gab i ji. geyol hon hu e neun, nan ja ga gab i go.]
Before marriage, the woman is the gab. After marriage, the man is the gab.

Scene from the show “Gab/Eur Company”

7) 알바 [Alba] – Alba is a shorten phrase for 아르바이트 [a reu ba i teu], which means part time job. It comes from the German word Arbeit which means to labour.

요즘 알바구하느라 바뻐.
[yo jeum al ba gu ha neu ra ba ppeo]
I’m busy looking for a part-time job these days.

알바하면서 만난 사람.
[al ba ha myeon seo man nan sa ram]
Someone I met during my part-time job.

Typical “Hiring” sign you see in Korea. 모집[Mo Jib] means recruit. 

8) 언플[Eon Peul] – Shorten word for 언론플레이[Eon ron peul le i], which means “media play.” Peul le i is just the Korean pronunciation of the English word “play.” Eon peul therefore means playing around with media where corporations or celebrities torque media/press for their own advantage.

어제기사봤어? 언플장난아니야.
[eo je gi sa bwass eo? Eon peul jang nan a ni ya]
Did you see the article yesterday? Such a media hoax.

연예인 데뷔하면, 무조건 언플해야되나봐.
[yeon ye in de bwi ha myeon, mu jo geon eon peul hae ya doe na bwa]
When celebrities debut, it seems like they have to use media to become popular.

9) 멘붕 [men bung] – It’s a shorten form of 멘탈붕괴 [men tal bung goe], which is a combination of the English word “mental” and the word 붕괴,which means to deconstruct. Mental here refers to the mental state of the person, and hence, Men Bung means to experience mental shock aka. OTL. It was first used amongst the Korean Starcraft players in 2011.

사회학논문쓰느라 멘붕이야 지금.
[Sa hoe hak non mun sseu neu ra men bung i ya ji geum]
I’m in mental shock mode because of my sociology paper.

경제가않좋아지면서, 직장인들모두멘붕.
[Gyeong je ga anh joh a ji myeon seo, jik jang in deul mo du men bung]
As the economy is declining, workers are experiencing mental shock.



10) 뭥미? [Mwong mi?] – Means “What the..”? It originates from the word 뭐임[mwo im], which means “What is it?” When you type 뭐임 quickly using the Korean keyboard, you often end up with 뭥미, which is how this word came about.


[i geon mwong mi?]
What the heck is this?


Try to find the word 뭥미 in the picture above!

That’s all folks! 행쇼with your Korean studies. Follow me on twitter @tinasyhsu, and hopefully, you can now pick up more of what your Korean friends are saying ;)

READ 5 Cliche Life Lessons You Learn from Psy

Categories: 2013

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37 replies »

  1. Good to learn about those slangs and knowing more about the modern lifestyle in Korea . Hope can practice those slangs in my next trip to Seoul .

  2. thank you so much for putting this together. I have been studying Korean for the past 4 months and this has been very helpful.

  3. Thanks for this :)
    You might feel a little awkward saying this at first like I did. It takes a little getting used to lol. Especially if you’re not Korean, it makes you feel pressured that you might say it wrong and look dumb. This really helped me make sure the correct usage thanks!

  4. This is very helpful, I will save, bookmark, and probably re-blog this since I intend to go to South Korea for my masters degree.My blog


    Is about my experiences being African American in Asia, and all the hilarious events and stunts that happen on the day to day basis. I also have a long of Korean experiences as well. But I would live to experiece the craziness in Korea.

  5. Hahah I love these. I used some on my Korean husband and he was like 뭥미? Except he didn’t know what most of them were. I told him he’d better study this and refresh for the next generation :p

  6. even i am korean, but i dont understand what is 뭥미, 언플… and most of these terms i never heard before… only 대박, 걔, 엄친, 알바, 훈남, 훈녀, 걔 etc… there are too many modernized words that i dont even usually use it in chat…

  7. those seem terrible, i am sure i would be mad at korean if i were born an american or any other nationality. i was told korean language one of the hardest language on earth. i happened to see some people speak korean very fluently i must say they are really smart people.

    • Korean is not as hard as people say it is…. i started learning Korean from watching too many Korean dramas so I fell in love with it…. difference is with Korean there are too many words that mean the same thing it kinda gets confusing

    • Korean is not as hard as they say the only difference is Korean has lots of words that mean the same thing so u get comfused

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