Life in Korea: 100 Korean words to sound more like a local (part 2 of 3)

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To my wonderful veteran expat readers – ‘Life in Korea’ posts are aimed at the newer expats among us. Think of these as the Idiot’s Guide to Life in Korea – helpful for some, and a review for others. Please feel free to contribute what you know in the comments!

UPDATED 4 September 2009 9:32am: Some more updates / corrections / improvements from the comments – hat tips to Gomushin Girl, The Sanity Inspector, and asadalthought. While this post was not meant to be encyclopedic, I’m humbly accepting further suggestions 🙂

UPDATED 3 September 2009 10:29am: Some minor updates and corrections, as noted in the comments – hat tips to Paul Ajosshi and Alex for their help.

Presenting some more Korean words to add to your Korean vocabulary. Check out part 1 here.

The directions

To my wonderful veteran expat readers – ‘Life in Korea’ posts are aimed at the newer expats among us. Think of these as the Idiot’s Guide to Life in Korea – helpful for some, and a review for others. Please feel free to contribute what you know in the comments!

UPDATED 4 September 2009 9:32am: Some more updates / corrections / improvements from the comments – hat tips to Gomushin Girl, The Sanity Inspector, and asadalthought. While this post was not meant to be encyclopedic, I’m humbly accepting further suggestions 🙂

UPDATED 3 September 2009 10:29am: Some minor updates and corrections, as noted in the comments – hat tips to Paul Ajosshi and Alex for their help.

Presenting some more Korean words to add to your Korean vocabulary. Check out part 1 here.

The directions

  1. 왼쪽 – Win-jjok – left
  2. 오른쪽 – O-reun-jjok – right (HT to asadalthought for catching the typo)
  3. 직진 – Jik-jin – straight. Just 쭉, or jjuk, also counts. (HT to asadalthought for catching the typo)
  4. 북 – buk – north
  5. 동 – dong – east (HT to Alex for catching the typo)
  6. 서 – seo – west
  7. 남 – nam – south

The periods of time
Important: just like in English, one needs to add a number before the unit of measurement. Also remember that in Korean, there are two different kinds of numbers – the ‘Korean’ numbers (hana, dul, set) and the ‘Chinese’ or ‘sino’ numbers (il, i or ee, sam). (HT to Gomunshin Girl for pointing that out).

  1. 년 – nyeon – year (when referring to a date)
  2. 세 – se – year (when referring to age)
  3. 월 – wol = month, as in which month it is (1월 = January, 2월 = Feburary, and so on). For counting months, 개월, preceded by a number, is used – for example 3개월 means 3 months (HT to asadalthought for the clarification)
  4. 일 – il – day
  5. 시 – shi – hour as in the time (use Korean numbers) or 시간 as in ‘how long’ or when counting time (HT to asadalthought for pointing that out)
  6. 분 – bun – minute (use Chinese numbers)
  7. 초 – cho – second (HT to asadalthought for catching the typo)

The terms of endearment

Some disagreements over terms of endearment in the comment – if your significant other happens to be Korean, feel free to clarify for the rest of us!

  1. 애기 – ae-gi – ‘baby’ or ‘honey’, said by a guy to a girl (Gomushin Girl suggests it’s “not a very common endearment, and is more often used as an atypical pronuciation of 아기 which means the kind of baby that is a child, not your girlfriend.”)
  2. 자기 – ja-gi – ‘darling’, said by a girl to a guy (HT to Alex for suggesting 자기 literally means ‘self’ – I can’t speak for the dictionary, but Google Translate shows ‘darling’ as 사랑스러운 사람, which when translated back means ‘lovely people’. My head’s beginning to hurt…
  3. 여보 – yeo-bo – ‘darling’, from one spouse to another

The common words

  1. 있어요 iss-eo-yo – to exist; when asking if someone has something. For example, asking 방 있어요? (bang isseoyo) asks ‘Do you have a room?’ (literally, ‘room exist’) (HT to Alex for catching the typo)
  2. 없어요 – eob – seo – yo – doesn’t exist, usually a response to the previous word.
  3. 거의 – geo-ui – almost, more or less
  4. 아차 – a-cha – ‘oops’
  5. 아이고 – a-i-go – ‘geez’ or ‘come on’ – (perhaps “its nearest equivalent is the Yiddish “Oy!” – HT to The Sanity Inspector)
  6. 마트 – ma-teu – mart (Konglish) – a store to most of us. Try to pronounce more like ‘mat’ than ‘mart’.
  7. 사거리 – sa-geo-ri – 4 way intersection (note the first syllable determines how many roads meet, thus 사, or 4 roads)
  8. 할인 – har-in – discount
  9. 입구 – ib-gu – entrance
  10. 출구 – chul-gu – exit

The curses (use with caution and only when absolutely necessary!)

  1. 바보 – ba-bo – stupid / a fool
  2. 냅둬 – naep-dwo – leave me alone / bug off (might also be pronounced 맵도 – I think the person you’re speaking to will get the idea either way – HT to asadalthought)
  3. 뻐꾸기 – bbeo-ggu-gi – literally ‘c***sucker’
  4. 새끼 – sae-ggi – similar to ‘motherf***er’ or ‘bastard’
  5. 씨발놈 – pronounced sshi-bal-lum – ‘f*** you’ or ‘f***ing bastard’ (HT to Paul Ajosshi and asadalthought for the correction)
  6. 미친놈 – mi-chin-nom – ‘crazy guy / bastard’
  7. 입닥쳐 – ib-dak-chyeo – ‘shut the f*** up’

Perhaps best saved for a bar or the times a local really pisses you off.

33 last time, 34 this time, and 34 to go in part three – stay tuned!

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2009



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