ANNYEONGHASEYO: Mastering the Korean Language

So You Want To Learn Korean: Learning from KDramas

While watching a KDrama can be a lot of fun, if you are learning Korean it can also be a great way to practice your listening skills and broaden your knowledge! To help you along, Iโ€™ve taken a look at scenes from a couple of my favorite dramas that feature common Korean phrases and explained them here for you.

Before I begin, I want to mention that most of these phrases can be said a few different ways, and depending on who you are talking to, you will need to consider the level of formality that you want to use. Generally, these phrases can be used between friends and in those cases you can say them as-is (that is, informally). However, if you are speaking to someone who is older than you or your senior in some way, then you will want to be a little more formal. To do that, simply add ์š” (yo) to the end of the phrase. I will be sure to indicate which phrases can have ์š” added in the Summary section.

Hello My Twenties/Age of Youth

This fresh, modern drama about five young women who room together while they go through lifeโ€™s ups and downs is full of useful sayings. Letโ€™s dive in to two scenes from Episode 1, where the protagonist Eun Jae moves into the share house for the first time.

age of youth 1

After some misunderstandings between roommates, Eun Jae vents her feelings and then falls ill. When she emerges from her room, Yi Na says, โ€œ์ผ์–ด๋‚ฌ์–ด?โ€ (ee-reo-na-sseo?) which translates to, โ€œYouโ€™re up?โ€ This is based on the verb ์ผ์–ด๋‚˜๋‹ค (to get up), and can be used a couple of different ways. Here, Yi Na is using it to ask a past-tense question, while if your sister was oversleeping you might insist โ€œ์ผ์–ด๋‚˜!โ€ (โ€œWake up!/Get up!โ€) in the present tense.

Next, Yi Na and Ye Eun check on Eun Jae by asking, โ€œ๊ดœ์ฐฎ์•„?โ€ (kwaen-cha-nah?) โ€“ โ€œAre you okay?โ€ This broadly-used phrase can be applied to all kinds of situations, and is generally used just like you would use the same question in English.

When Eun Jae asks if she can help out with the housecleaning, they assure her that โ€œ๋‹ค ํ–ˆ์–ด” (ta haesseo) โ€“ they did all of it. In this case, ๋‹ค is used to indicate that all of the work was done, and ํ–ˆ์–ด is the past tense form of the extremely common verb ํ•˜๋‹ค โ€“ to do. You could use this simple sentence to say that you did all of your homework, chores, work, or any other task.

Eun Jae sheepishly apologizes to her roommates by saying โ€œ์ฃ„์†กํ•ด์š”โ€ (jwe-song-hae-yo) โ€“ โ€œIโ€™m sorry.โ€ This slightly more formal apology is appropriate for most situations where you might wish to use it.

age of youth 2e

Later on, the roommates decide to have a conversation to clear the air and find out what they can do to make living together more enjoyable. Yi Na invites Eun Jae to share her perspective by saying, โ€œ๋งํ•ด๋ดโ€ (mal-hae-bwa). This is a little harder to translate directly into English, but the feeling is โ€œGo aheadโ€ โ€“ she is encouraging Eun Jae to share. ๋ง is the Korean word for speech, and ํ•ด๋ด means to try to do something. You might use ๋งํ•ด๋ด when someone seems hesitant to speak, and you can also just use ํ•ด๋ด to tell someone โ€œgive it a try!โ€ when they are considering doing something.

When Eun Jae explains that she can overhear Ye Eun on the phone, Ye Eun is shocked and asks, โ€œ์ง„์งœ?โ€ (jin-jja?) โ€“ โ€œReally?โ€ This exclamation is one of my favorites as it has a wide range of applications. You might say ์ง„์งœ to express your frustration at having someone cut in front of you while you are driving, or you could use it to show your excitement when your friend shares some big news.

A couple of times during the conversation, in relation to an undesirable action (eg. leaving the water running), the girls tell each other โ€œํ•˜์ง€๋งˆโ€ (ha-ji-ma) โ€“ โ€œDonโ€™t do that/Stop that.โ€ Again, this phrase can be used similarly to the English equivalent.

Finally, as they reach an understanding and start to feel more comfortable with each other, Ye Eun says, โ€œ๋จน์žโ€ โ€“ (meok-ja). By adding ์ž to the verb stem of ๋จน๋‹ค (to eat), it gives it the meaning โ€œLetโ€™s eatโ€. You can also add ์ž to other verb stems to say โ€œLetโ€™s _____โ€ โ€“ such as letโ€™s go (๊ฐ€์ž โ€“ ga-ja).

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

Endowed with superhuman strength, Bong Soon finds herself guarding a CEO and caught up in a mystery all at the same time. As both situations start to build in Episode 2, and more characters are introduced, we encounter numerous common Korean phrases.

strong woman 6

When Bong Soon reunites with an old friend, Kyung Shim, they both exclaim, โ€œ์ž˜์ง€๋ƒˆ์–ด?โ€ (jal-jee-nae-sseo). This is a phrase that you can use to say, โ€œHow have you been?โ€ It should really only been used when you havenโ€™t seen someone in a while, rather than after a short time apart. As you study Korean you may notice that there isnโ€™t an exact equivalent for the very Canadian greeting of โ€œHow are you?โ€ that we use every day; while itโ€™s important to know that ์ž˜์ง€๋‚ด? isnโ€™t the same as How are you?, it is a helpful saying for reunions like this one.

Bong Soon also tells Kyung Shim โ€œ๋ณด๊ณ ์‹ถ์—ˆ์–ด!โ€ (bo-go-shi-peo-sseo), or, โ€œI missed you!โ€ This is a combination of the verb ๋ณด๋‹ค (to see), a verb ending that indicates that you want to do something (-๊ณ ์‹ถ๋‹ค), and the past tense conjugation for the verb. It is very common to hear someone say โ€œ๋ณด๊ณ ์‹ถ์–ด!โ€ โ€“ โ€œI miss you!โ€ โ€“ in any sort of situation, such as when they are on the phone with a friend or significant other.

As Kyung Shim and Bong Soonโ€™s family sit down to eat their dinner, Bong Ki remarks โ€œ์˜ค๋žœ๋งŒ์ด๋‹คโ€ (oh-raen-ma-ni-da). This means โ€œItโ€™s been a whileโ€, and can be used to talk about something thatโ€™s happening after a long time, or to greet someone you havenโ€™t seen in a long time. In this case, heโ€™s referring to the fish cakes that Kyung Shim brought with her from Busan, which they havenโ€™t eaten in a while.

strong woman 9

After a harrowing incident at the hospital, Gook Du and Bong Soon are comparing notes on what happened. Distraught, Bong Soon says, โ€œ์–ด๋–ป๊ฒŒโ€ (eo-tteo-keh). Like ์ง„์งœ, this is a broad term that can be used in a lot of different instances. At this moment, Bong Soon wants to express โ€œWhat are we going to do?โ€, and that is the general feeling of ์–ด๋–ป๊ฒŒ; you can use it when you feel hopeless, frustrated, confused, or otherwise unsure of how to deal with the current situation.

Gook Du is quick to reassure Bong Soon by saying โ€œ๊ฑฑ์ •ํ•˜์ง€๋งˆโ€ (geok-jeong-ha-ji-ma) โ€“ โ€œDonโ€™t worry.โ€ We saw ํ•˜์ง€๋งˆ earlier (donโ€™t do that) and ๊ฑฑ์ • means worry, so this oneโ€™s pretty easy. Sometimes you will also hear or see this phrase shortened to โ€œ๊ฑฑ์ •๋งˆโ€, which has the same meaning.

As Gook Du realizes the danger Bong Soon might be in, he urges her to โ€œ๋นจ๋ฆฌ ์ง‘์— ๋“ค์–ด๊ฐ€โ€ (bbal-li-jib-eh-deu-reo-ga). Firstly we have ๋นจ๋ฆฌ, which means quickly, and then ์ง‘์—, which is the word ์ง‘ (home) paired with a particle that denotes place (์—). The verb in this sentence is ๋“ค์–ด๊ฐ€๋‹ค, which means to go in, and it is conjugated in the present tense, so the overall meaning is โ€œGo back home quicklyโ€. Although you may not say this exact sentence all the time, these are all useful pieces that you could combine with other phrases, such as โ€œ๋นจ๋ฆฌ ๋จน์žโ€, or use on their own, such as saying โ€œ์ง‘์— ๋“ค์–ด๊ฐ€โ€ when you have walked someone home and are encouraging them to go into their house.

Near the end of this scene, there is a moment when Gook Du reassures Bong Soon that she is not to blame for what happened at the hospital. She replies, โ€œ์•Œ์•˜์–ดโ€ (ah-ra-sseo) to say โ€œOkayโ€ or โ€œI understand.โ€ This phrase is quite versatile and can be used to indicate your understanding or agreement in general. You can also use it to express a certain mood, depending on your tone โ€“ it can be everything from playful to sarcastic.


I hope that this has been a helpful foray into the world of Korean phrases, courtesy of Kdramas! Here are all of the phrases we talked about today:

์ผ์–ด๋‚˜(์š”) / ์ผ์–ด๋‚ฌ์–ด(์š”)? — Get up or Wake up / Youโ€™re up?
๊ดœ์ฐฎ์•„(์š”)? — Are you okay?
๋‹ค ํ–ˆ์–ด(์š”) — (I/we) did it all or (I/we) finished it all
์ฃ„์†กํ•ด์š” — Iโ€™m sorry

๋งํ•ด๋ด(์š”) / ํ•ด๋ด(์š”) — Go ahead or Tell us / Go ahead or Try it or Try to do (something)
์ง„์งœ? — Really?
ํ•˜์ง€๋งˆ(์š”) — Donโ€™t do (it/that) or Stop (it/that)
๋จน์ž / ๊ฐ€์ž — Letโ€™s eat / Letโ€™s go

์ž˜์ง€๋‚ด(์š”)? / ์ž˜์ง€๋ƒˆ์–ด(์š”)? — How are you? / How have you been?
๋ณด๊ณ ์‹ถ์–ด(์š”) /๋ณด๊ณ ์‹ถ์—ˆ์–ด(์š”) — I miss you / I missed you
์˜ค๋žœ๋งŒ์ด๋‹ค — Itโ€™s been a while

์–ด๋–ป๊ฒŒ — What do I do?
๊ฑฑ์ •ํ•˜์ง€๋งˆ(์š”) / ๊ฑฑ์ •๋งˆ(์š”) — Donโ€™t worry
๋นจ๋ฆฌ ์ง‘์— ๋“ค์–ด๊ฐ€(์š”) — Go (back) home quickly
์•Œ์•˜์–ด(์š”) — Okay or I understand

What dramas would you like to learn from? Leave a comment below and I might include them in a future article!

All screenshots courtesy of and

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s