Learning Korean slang

We’re about to break down Korean slang to get you jiving like a native. Are you ready for this?!?

Korea is a weird and wonderful place.

In this ongoing feature we’ll list eight funny, fascinating, phenomenal, or freaky aspects of Korean culture. What we like to call “Korea’s Crazy Eights”.

Why eight? Because Top 10 lists are soooooo played out.

Dig it!

Korea’s Crazy Eights: Korean Slang 

Korean uses a ton of slang words and phrases. A TON of it.

So it was no easy task squeezing this list down to just eight examples. But, hey, eight is the gimmick here so we did what we had to do. It was tricky. Difficult. And we’ll have to do a follow-up post here in the future. (Probably with all the naughty words we left out!)

Special thanks to Jinah Kim for providing a bunch of great Korean slang words and phrases to choose from.

Alright, folks. Let’s learn some Korean!

헐 (hul)  We’ll start with a nice and easy expression. This exclamation is used to express frustration, disbelief, or discouragement depending on the context. For example, when I’m feeling especially cruel and decide to assign my students extra homework (which happens pretty frequently cos, well, I’m kind of a  mean bastard) all of my young charges will simultaneously sigh “Hul!

대박 (dey-bak) Another exclamation, only this one is used to comment on an awesome or unbelievable situation. Did you just score tickets to the Big Bang concert? Dey-bak!!!

얼짱 (eol-jjang)  Let’s say you’re out at the bar and a handsome fella or pretty young thing refers to you as “eol-jjang”. Nice! This noun describes a man or woman who is considered super attractive. So go ahead and buy your new friend a drink. And if it blossoms into romance just remember to send us a wedding invite.

멘붕 (men-boong)  Koreans are under tons of stress. Whether it’s studying 20 hours a day to get a good mark on an all important test, or working eight days a week for your Samsung overlord, stress out here is hot, heavy, and hellish. When you’ve reached your breaking point you experience “mental destruction”, or “men-boong” for short.

볼매 (bol-mey) Players, this one’s for you. When you’re out wining and dining your paramour just tell him/her “bol-mey”. It means “You just get more attractive every time I see you.” You’re welcome.

지못미 (gee-mo-mee)  This expression is a way to sympathize with someone who has just endured an epic fail. With this important nuance: It’s generally reserved for attractive, gifted, talented people who should know better. Think of the last five or six years of Lindsay Lohan’s career, for example.

오글거리다 (oh-gul-gu-ree-da) Okay, so we need to dig into the culture a bit for this one. Generally, Korean folk aren’t super comfortable with expressing affection. (This is before the soju starts flowing, obviously.) ”Oh-gul-gu-ree-da” is a way of expressing embarrassment or awkwardness when you see or receive affection. In Korea you never outgrow cooties.

엄친아 (um-chin-ah)  I don’t know if you’ve heard this or not, but Asian moms can be kind of intense. Unless you’re headed to Harvard on a full ride to double major in concert violin and neuroscience then WHY THE HELL ARE YOU SHAMING YOUR FAMILY?!? To help motivate her children, a Korean moms will often compare them with “um-chin-a” — the rich, talented, good-looking child of mom’s friend. (Who is most definitely headed to Harvard.) The title “um-chin-a” can also be applied with a mixture of reverence and hatred to the popular kid at school who is good at everything. You know the one…stupid showoff.

There you have it. Eight examples of Korean slang words and phrases.

Are you feeling a little more Korean? You should be! This isn’t the sort of thing you’ll pick up in the typical language textbook.

Can you dig it?

Alright dudes and dudettes, what do you think of this new feature? Would you like to see more lists of the weird and wonderful things Korean culture has to offer?

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