To bridge the gap between dictionary Korean and real-life Korean, we present a glossary of slang terms commonly used online and in informal conversation. Entries are in English alphabetical order.

2MB

[ee-myeong-bak]
noun.
Written slang for South Korean presidstecnhent Lee Myung-bak. ’2′ has the Sino-Korean pronunciation ‘ee’ and ‘MB’ stands for Myung-bak. Can also be written as just ‘MB. Jokes are often made that ’2MB’ is the amount of RAM Lee Myung-bak’s brain runs on.
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애교

[aegyo]
noun.
Intense childish cuteness. Most often used to describe the affectionate mannerisms of a woman toward her male friends, boyfriend, or husband. Usage is similar to “acting cute” or “being petulant”.
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아이고

[aigo]
exclamation.
Similar to ‘OMG’ or ‘oh dear’. Also written 아이구 [aigoo] in some dialects.
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악플

[ak-peul]
Combination of the words 악 ['ak,' evil) and 리플 ['ripeul,' reply]. Literally ‘evil reply,’ or malicious comment.
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알바

[alba]
A term for temporary, part-time work. Derived from the Japanese term Arubaito, which in itself is a Japanese loanword of German origin, meaning work Arbeit.
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빵셔틀

[ppang-syeoteul]
Term literally meaning ‘bread shuttle.’ Usually used at school, where one student is picked on and/or bullied to do the errands for people who are in a stronger position than they are.
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빨갱이

[bbalgaeng-i]
offensive.
Derogative and controversial term for ‘commies’, used to show extreme hatred rather than other conventional terms. It is sometimes used as an insult for anyone who shows appreciation for things related with the North or those who might have lived in the North.
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보지

[boji]
offensive.
Derogative term for vagina. Similar to ‘pussy’.
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보슬아치

[boseul-achi]
offensive.
Offensive word used towards women who think they are more important than they are, just because they’re female and think they are precious. Derived from 벼슬아치 [byo-seul-a-chi] which was an ancient name for an official.
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부카니스탄

[bu-ka-nis-tan]
noun.
Combination of the words 북한 ['buk-han', North Korea] and 파키스탄 [Pakistan], slang term for referring to North Korea.
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천조

[cheon-jo]
offensive.
A laudatory term referring to the United States of America, coined during the late Joseon period.
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재벌

[chaebol]
noun.
One of the huge Korean corporations that found wealth during Korea’s rapid economic transformation in the 20th Century. From ‘jae’ [재 - 財] meaning ‘wealth’ and ‘beol’ [벌 - 閥] meaning ‘clan’. More commonly romanised as ‘Chaebol’. The biggest three are Samsung, Hyundai and Lucky Goldstar (LG).
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재수 없어

[jaesu-opso]
adjective.
The target individual is strongly disliked and repulsive.
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ㅉㅉ

[chuh-chuh]
onomatopoeic.
Sound of ‘tsking’, i.e. ‘tsk tsk’ –– indicating disapproval of something.
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전땅크

[chun tang-koo]
slang.
Term for Chun Doo-hwan, a former president infamous for his heavy handed and lethal response to student protest, and preference to sentence people to ‘re-education’ in special camps during the 1980s. Portmanteau of ‘Chun’ and ‘Tank’. Used to indicate that a civilian problem can be solved with brute military force.
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친일파

[chin-il-p'a]
offensive.
Literally ‘people friendly to Japan’. Originally used to denote those ‘collaborator’ Koreans who were supportive of Japan’s occupation of Korea. Now used as a derogatory term meaning Japanophile Korean.
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지랄

[ji-ral]
offensive.
Bullshit. Often written with the first two letters as ㅈㄹ, similar to writing ‘BS’ in English.
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지잡대

[jijab-dae]
slang.
Name for universities outside the Seoul Metropolitan area. Used as an insulting term for those who failed to gain a place at the more prestigious universities of Seoul.
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좌좀

[jwa-jom]
exclamation.
Jwa-jom; sometimes written as jwa-ik. Literally meaning left-wing zombie. Used by conservative netizens to refer to someone who blindly subscribes to a left-wing or socialist ideology.
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ㄷㄷ

[duh duh]
exclamation.
An onomatopoeia from the word 후덜덜 [hudeoldeol] describing the physical shaking due to coldness, shock, or being scared, meaning ‘making me shiver’ or ‘shivers down my spine.’ Can also be used as a ‘tutting’ sound.
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대박

[dae-bak]
exclamation.
Dae-bak, a common term used to express approval or admiration for something. Similar to “cool” or “awesome”, it can be used flexibly as a noun or adverb. See examples below:

  • This movie is dae-bak (a big hit).
  • This movie is dae-bak fun.
  • A: Today I saw the popular girl group SNSD.
    B: dae-bak!

Link to this entry.

답답하다

[dap-dap-ha-da]
adjective.
dap-dap-ha-da, an extremely versatile word used to describe situations that are emotionally or physically stifling. See examples below:

  • I’ve been cooped up in my room all day, it’s so dap-dap-hae
  • I was so dap-dap-hae because he couldn’t understand no matter how I tried to explain it.

Link to this entry.

된장녀

[dwen jang nyo]
slang.
A modern Korean woman who will live as frugally as possible on a cheap beanpaste stew so they can save up as much money as possible to spend on designer shoes and handbags.
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어휴

[eo-hyu]
exclamation.
A sighing sound used to express something or someone annoying the speaker. Also written as 아휴 [a-hyu]. Not to be confused with 에휴 [eh-hyu], used to express despair or frustration.
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ㅎㅎㅎ

[huh huh huh]
exclamation.
Onomatopoeic sound used when laughing, similar to ‘lol’ or ㅋㅋㅋ.
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흑역사

[heukyeoksa]
slang.
Literally ‘black history.’ Derived from 黒歴史 [kuro-rekishi] in the Japanese anime Turn A Gundam, used to describe those times in one’s life one is ashamed of and regrets and would rather forget.
Link to this entry.

화이팅

[hwai-ting]
slang.
Konglish for the word ‘fighting’, which generally expresses encouragement. Equivalents in English could be ‘Go go go!’, ‘Good luck!’ or ‘You can do it!’. Sometimes written as 파이팅. Link to this entry.

[hoel]
exclamation.
Slang word usually used to show mild form of shock or surprise.
Link to this entry.

김치걸

[kimchi-goel]
slang.
Slang word usually used to denote material Korean girls who spend most of their time shopping and buying cosmetics, looking down on Korea in preference of perhaps a better Western life, when they are in fact Korean down to the core. Also phrased as 김치년 ['kimchi-nyoen', 'kimchi bitch']. Similar term sometimes used for men (김치맨/김치놈) as well.
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개독

[gae-dok]
offensive.
Derogatory term for Christians, popularised in the mid-2000s. It is reserved predominantly for those of fanatical Protestant persuasion. Combination of 개 [gae] meaning “dog” and 기독교 [gi-dok-gyo] meaning “Christianity”.
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개불

[gae-bul]
offensive.
Derogatory term for Buddhists. Combination of 개 [gae] meaning “dog” and 불교 [bul-gyo] meaning “Buddhism”. Similar to gae-dok above.
Link to this entry.

개꿀

[gae-kkul]
slang.
Literally ‘comb honey.’ A slang for relaxing and easy-going posts in the military.
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개념

[gae-nyeom]
offensive.
Derives from Korean word for ‘notion’ or ‘concept’ but is used to imply ‘common-sense’ or ‘brains’ and is very rude when combined with 무 [mu] or 없다 [obp-da] (v. to not have no sense whatsoever).
Link to this entry.

개새끼

[gaesaekki]
offensive.
Son of a bitch. Derived from 개 [gae] meaning ‘dog’ and 새끼.
Link to this entry.

꼰대

[ggondae]
offensive.
Clueless old man, normally an authority figure, who takes advantage of his power and resists any changes.
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경상디언

[gyeong-sang-dion]
offensive.
Derogatory term for those born/raised/lived in Gyeongsang province. Similar word used for those for the Jeolla province [전라디언, or Jeolla-dion]
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짜고치는 고스톱

[jjagochineun goseutob]
noun.
Figurative term representing the situation where two people collude within a game of 고스톱 (Go-Stop, a Korean card game, usually used for gambling). The expression is used to describe the secret collusion between two individuals in order to extort another.
Link to this entry.

짱깨

[jang-gae]
offensive.
Derogatory word for Chinese people, similar to ‘Chink’ or ‘Ching-chong’ in English.
Link to this entry.

[jot]
offensive.
Derogatory word for penis. Similar to ‘dick’ or ‘cock’.
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종북

[jongpuk]
noun.
Comes from 從北, 從 [jong] meaning ‘to follow’ or ‘slave’ and 北 [puk] denoting the North. Term used to designate those who follow and uncritically accept both the North’s ruling political power and its leaders. English equivalents, would roughly translate to ‘North Korean sympathizer’, ‘North Korean apologist’, or ‘Kim follower’. Depending on the context it can be quite offensive.

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쪽발이

[jjok-bari]
offensive.
Ethnic slur for a Japanese person. Literally means pig feet, probably refering to the black Japanese tabi shoes once worn in Japan, said to resemble pig trotters. Sometimes spelled as 쪽바리.
Link to this entry.

ㅋㅋㅋ

[ke ke ke]
exclamation.
Onomatopoeic sound used to describe quiet giggling, similar to ‘lol’ or ㅎㅎㅎ.
Link to this entry.

로린이

[lolini]
slang.
Similar to lolita, ie a term for a sexually attractive little girl. Portmanteau of ‘lolita’ and ‘어린이 [eo-lin-i]‘ meaning ‘child’. First coined by pedophiles on the internet, the term is now used more loosely to describe a good looking female child.
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막장

[mak-jang]
slang.
Slang word meaning something that is so bad that it couldn’t get any worse.
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멘붕

[men-boong]
slang.
A compound word that joins 멘탈 [men-tal] (‘mental’) and 붕괴 [boong-gwi] (‘collapse’, ‘implosion’) referring to a psychological shock one experiences when encountering an unexpected and shocking event. Initially used by StarCraft viewers in 2011. Sometimes written as 멘탈붕괴
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미친놈

[michinnom]
offensive.
Crazy bastard. Combination of the verb 미치다 [michida] ‘to be crazy’ and . Can also be combined with 년 [nyon], meaning ‘bitch’.
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노이즈 마케팅

[noijeu maketing]
noun.
Literally from the English ‘noise marketing’. Similar to the English term ‘buzz marketing’, marketing through word-of-mouth, or a “publicity stunt”.
Link to this entry.

[nom]
noun.
Literally means ‘fellow’ or ‘guy’ but is generally derogatory when combined with other words such as 미친놈 or 씨발놈.
Link to this entry.

ㅗㅗ

[o o]
emoticon.
Emoticon meaning ‘fuck you’, resembling sticking one’s middle finger up.
Link to this entry.

얼짱

[eoljjang]
slang.
Literally ‘good-looking’ or ‘best face’. Term popularized and given to those who upload pictures of themselves online and get rated as ‘beautiful.’ Some such teenagers have gone on to fame and fortunes.
Link to this entry.

엄친아

[omchin-a]
noun.
Abbreviation of 엄마친구아들 [omma-chingu-adeul] – meaning ‘The son of my Mother’s friend’. Generally used to mean someone who is good at everything. Derives from Korean mothers constantly reminding their children that their friends’ children are achieving at a higher level than they are.
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언플

[onpul]
compound noun.
Combination of the words 언론 [onlun] (the press, media) and 프레이 [play]. Literally ‘playing with the media’. Term used to describe the tactic in which individuals use the media for their own benefit.
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언니

[onni]
noun.
A woman’s older sister, also used as a term of endearment.
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오빠

[oppa]
noun.
A woman’s older brother, also used as a term of endearment or romance.
Link to this entry.

새끼

[saekki]
offensive.
Bastard. Can be easily combined to form other words such as 개새끼.
Link to this entry.

팬심

[pen-shim]
noun.
Combination of “fan” and “shim” (meaning 心 in Chinese, aka “heart”). Someone who is a hardcore fan of something but is discrete about it.
Link to this entry.

씨발

[ssibal]
offensive.
Used as ‘fuck!’ or ‘fucker!’ – derived from 씹하나 [ssib hada], the verb ‘to fuck’. Sometimes written as an acronym as ㅅㅂ or ㅆㅂ (SB), similar to the Chinese SB. Can also be written ’18′ which has a near-identical pronunciation in Sino-Korean numbers.
Link to this entry.

홍어

[hong-o]
noun.
Literally ‘skate’ (fish). Derogatory term referring to Jeolla-do people. Skates are used to make a special stinky dish famous in the Jeolla region.
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스펙

[seupeg]
noun.
From the English for ‘specification’ usually included in the curriculum vitae. Normally refers to TOEIC scores, GPA, and professional qualifications or certifications, but often includes volunteer experience, family background and other academic or social attributes indicative of social or employment status..
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위꼴사

[wikkolsa]
slang.
Short term for ‘위장이 꼴리는 사진’ or ‘stomach-arousing photos’. Term originally derived from 은꼴사 [eunkkolsa, 'photos rousing in roundabout way'], short for ‘은근히 꼴리는 사진’ probably from DC Inside (presumably made to bypass the NSFW rule at work places or parental monitoring). Link to this entry.

열라

[yeolla]
offensive.
Same as 졸라 and 존나. Swear word meaning 정말 [jeong-mal](very, really, a lot). English equivalent to ‘it’s fucking [amazing]. Also spelled as 좆나 or ㅈㄴLink to this entry.

열폭

[yeol-pok]
slang.
Compound word that combines ‘inferiority complex’ [열등감, yeoldeungkam] with ‘rage/explosion’ [폭발, pok-bar]. Something equivalent of rage-quit.
Link to this entry.

ㅠㅠ

[yoo yoo]
emoticon.
Made from lower half of the vowel 유 [yoo]. Represents crying eyes, similar to :’( etc. Sometimes written ㅜㅠ and ㅜㅡㅜor with semi-colons as ;;;
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