Learning a new language can be tough and aiming to sound like a native speaker is much more difficult. K-drama fans trying to learn the Korean language must find it hard to understand some dialogues in their favorite series as most characters, particularly those intended for a younger audience, use words that have a different meaning in the dictionary. Those words are probably pop culture expressions that only locals could understand.
So, I’d put my Millenial hat on and searched for Korean slang words that I think are “essential” to K-drama fans. Kaja!
You probably encountered these expressions and if you’re a veteran K-Drama fan, these words are probably in your vocabulary already. Here is a refresher of phrases commonly used in K-dramaland:
어머 / 어머나 (Omo/Omona) – “Oh my!” or “Oh no!”
Ex: Omo, my OTP kissed already!
아싸! (Assa!) – “Yes!” “Oh Yeah!” “Yass!”
Ex: Assa! I passed the exam.
아이구 (Aigoo) – It could mean “Geez” when frustrated or “aw” when referring to something cute.
Ex: (1) Aigoo, this villain is annoying. (2) Aigoo, the song triplets are so kwiwoyo.
대박 (Daebak) – Awesome
Ex: This drama’s plot is daebak!
헐 (Hul) – A vernacular expression used when in disbelief or surprised.
Ex: Hul, I didn’t know they’re dating.
콜! (Call!) – “Let’s do it!” or “I’m in!” or “Sure!”
Ex: Call! Let’s drink soju tonight.
화이팅 (Hwaiting) – or Fighting. It is used to show encouragement or support.
Ex: You’ll surely pass that interview. Hwaiting!
어떡해?! (Ottoke?!) – “What should I do?!” “How?!”
Ex: My crush looked at me, ottoke??
미쳤어?! (Michyeosso?!) – “Are you crazy?!”
Ex: Why did you do that? Michyeosso?!
짱! (Jjang) – Great or amazing
Ex: Lovelyz’s new song is jjang!
셀카 (Selca) – The Korean word for selfie.
Ex: My ultimate goal is to take a selca with my bias.
Slang encountered in K-drama
These are idiolects I remember because of Korean shows.
알바 (Alba) – A part-time job
Ex: I’ll ask the store’s alba if they have a triangle gimbap. (Sorry for this poor The Best Hit reference. I still have sepanx from that Yoon Si-yoon series)
소맥 (Sumek) – Soju + beer
Ex: Choi Ae-ra is good at drinking sumek.
건배 (Geonbae) – Cheers.
치맥 (Chimek) – fried chicken + beer
Ex: Cheon Song-yi’s comfort food is chimek.
멘붕 (Menbong) – is a combo of 멘탈 (mental) + 붕괴 (deconstruction or collapse). It is usually used when someone loses their mind because of a joke or a peculiar situation.
Ex: Infinite members went menbong in Weekly Idol.
These are terms used in their superlative form. I usually encounter this when reading comments on Korean sites.
불금 (Bulgeum) – A Korean expression similar to English speakers’ TGIF. It literally means burning Friday.
역대급 (Yeokdaegueb)– Legendary level / The best ever
Ex: Lee Young-ae is a yeokdaegueb actress.
쩐다 (Jeonda)– Very cool or great in scale.
Ex: EXO’s comeback stage is joenda!
Adjectives and Relationships
Aside from 사랑해 (saranghae), I listed some words Koreans used relating to dating or relationship as well as terms they use as an adjective.
썸 (Some) – Popularized by Soyu and Jungingo’s hit song with the same title, this word means a relationship between two people that is still unsure or doesn’t have a label.
Ex: I think my OTP is in a some relationship.
케미 (Kemi) – An abbreviation for the word chemistry. Different from the school subject we secretly loathe, 케미 pertains to the feeling of love that is made between male and female
Ex: My OTP’s kemi is making my heart explode.
금사빠 (Geumsabba)– A person who falls in love easily.
Ex: Most K-drama characters are geumsabba.
선수 (Seonsu) – It literally means player as in an athlete but it is also used to describe someone who dates around.
Ex: That handsome idol is definitely a seonsu.
훈남 (Hunnam) – A handsome and well-mannered guy
Ex: Gong Yoo is a hunnam in real life.
뇌섹남/뇌섹녀 (Nuesaeknam/Nuesaeknyeo) – It literally means a man or a woman has sexy brain.
Ex: Kim Tae-hee and Roy Kim are known as nuesaeknyeo and nuesaeknam.
얼빠 (Eolppa) – Someone who is drawn to good-looking people.
Ex: I’m quiet annoyed with eolppa fans.
얼짱 (Eoljjang/Ulzzang) – A good-looking person
Ex: Jung Joon-young is a famous ulzzang before he officially debuted.
몸짱 (Momjjang) – A hot body
Ex: Seolhyun is famous for her momjjang.
These are only a few Korean slang words that I find interesting. You can check my references for more. Also, follow our blog for updates on this K-Culture: Korean Language series.