Just like any other country, Korea has its own set of trendy slang words that are useful to know when you travel to Korea or you’re just watching a Korean show.
Korea’s slang mainly consists of bigger words contracted together much like English slang. A lot of recent Korean slang also comes from English slang so you might notice some similarities.
1. 대박 – (Daebak)
Meaning: That’s awesome!
This has been used a million times and if you’ve watched any Korean drama, variety show, or have had a lengthy conversation with a Korean person, you have heard of this. It is used to describe when something is awesome or a way of showing enthusiasm. A lot of the time it is also used to describe a state of awe or shock.
2. 짱 – (Jjang)
Meaning: Great or Amazing!
This is another way to say something is amazing or awesome in Korean. However, you can add this to describe a certain person’s feature such as 얼짱 (eoljjang), which means good looking or 몸짱 (momjjang), which means having a good body.
3. 헐 – (Hul)
Meaning: Oh My God
This is used to express shock. Mainly something negative as opposed to daebak but it can be used both ways. Daebak is usually used for a positive reaction.
4. 잼 – (Jaem)
This is the shortened version of the word 재미 (jae-mi, fun). This is used to describe whether something or someone is fun or not. This can be used in two different ways. One way is to express great fun by saying 꿀잼 (ggool jaem, literally honey fun) or you can express something is no fun at all by saying 노잼 (no jaem, no from English plus jaem).
5. 콜 – (kol)
Meaning: I’m in or sounds good.
This is used when you’re either down to go to the movies or about to do something reckless. It’s that nonchalant expression that could be used to express that you’re committing to a fun social activity or you’re willing to go cliff jumping.
6. 화이팅 – (hwaiting)
Meaning: I’m rooting for you!
This has been used countless times in Korean slang history. Used in sporting events or to encourage someone you care about.
Relationships & romance
1. 남친 / 여친 – (namchin / yeochin)
This is a shortened way of saying 남자 친구 (nam-ja chin-goo) and 여자 친구 (yeo-ja chin-goo). This is similar to shortening boyfriend and girlfriend in English using gf and bf.
2. 썸 – (ssum)
Meaning: Developing feelings between two people.
This is used to describe a time between two people right before they start officially dating. Basically saying there is SOMEthing going on between them. It can also be used in a verb form as 썸타다 (sseomtada) or 썸을 타다 (sseomeul tada). To describe the other person that is showing interest, you can use 썸남 (sseomnam) for men, and 썸녀 (sseomnyeo) for women.
3. 밀당 – (mildang)
Meaning: Push and pull
Literally putting the first syllables of push and pull together, 밀다 (mil-da, to push) and 당기다 (danggi-da, to pull). This is used to describe someone in a romantic situation who is being flaky or “playing games”.
4. 애교 – (aegyo)
Meaning: Acting cute
This is used to describe when someone is acting cute or baby-like. Used mainly among idols to display fan service but it’s also seen as a way of flirting.
1. 뻥 – (Ppung)
This is commonly used to describe a joke or false information. It is usually used in a sentence like this 뻥치지마 (Ppung-chi-ji-ma, “Don’t lie to me” or “Stop joking with me”).
2. 셀카 – (selka)
This is the shortened version of the two words 셀프 (selpeu, self) and 카메라 (kamera, camera). You can call selfie sticks 셀카봉 (selkabong) in Korean.
3. 베프 – (bepeu)
Meaning: Best friend
This is the shortened version of the Konglish (Korean English) phrase 베스트 프렌드 (beseuteu peurendeu, best friend).
4. 내가 쏠게 – (naega ssolge)
Meaning: I’ll pay/treat
Literally meaning “I’ll shoot”, these are words everyone wants to hear after a large meal. This is used to say that you will be the one paying as it is a common tradition in Korea that each person in the group takes turns paying for meals. The verb 쏘다 (So-da) actually means to shoot rather than using the verb 사다 (sa-da, to buy).