Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

Top Words You Should Know When Learning Korean

Posted on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 @ 04:00 PM

 Learning Korean can be really fun. Although not required for teaching at ChungDahm, I have found that knowing basic Korean has made my life easier during my teaching abroad experience. This blog will focus on both words that you need to know for everyday life and also the top keywords you should know for various social settings.

learning Korean 

Basic Korean Words:

  • Ahn-yong-ha-se-yo (안녕하세요) – This is the formal way to greet someone. You can usually use this during first time meetings or when you are speaking to someone who is older.
  • Ban-gap-sup-ni-da (반갑습니다) – This is the formal way to say that it is nice to meet someone.
  • Ju-se-yo (주세요) In Korean, please is already built into the phrase when asking something from someone. So this sentence means ‘please give it to me’.
  • Ne (네) – Yes
  • A-ni-yo (아니요) - No


learning KoreanFor dating:

  • Ae-gyo (애교 ‘eh-gyo) There is no direct English translation to this word but the closest that matches to it would be ‘a girl acting cute to get what she wants’. Many Korean guys and foreigners like this about the Korean female aspect.
  • So-gae-ting (소개팅 ‘soh-geh-ting’) If you are trying to score a date in Korea, this may be one of the ways to go ahead and meet someone. Normally, these are just 1-on-1 first encounters and typically they occur at coffee shops. It’s just an introduction; less like a blind date.
  • Hoon-nyeo/hoon-nam (훈녀/훈남 ‘hoon-nyo/hoon-nam’) These words are used to describe females/males respectively. It is used for people who are pretty/handsome and are really nice. Figuratively speaking, they are so nice that they can melt your heart.

learning Korean

  • Shim-koong (심쿵 ‘shim-koong’) A little bit different from the previous word, this word also means someone who is so attractive, they can cause a heart attack. This word is a mixture of heart (심) and the beating sound from your heart (쿵). It can also mean someone’s crush.
  • Dae-bak/Jjang (대박/짱 ‘day-bak/jjahng’) These words mean jackpot and awesome respectively. You can use these any time something good

 learning Korean


When hailing a taxi, one thing that you should do is be as assertive as you can when giving directions. This is so that you can make sure that you are not being taken advantage of.

Here are some words that you should know

  • Bin-cha (빈차) - If you see these letters flashing on the front windshield of a taxi, know that this taxi is empty. Feel free to waive it down
  • U-hoe-jeon (우회전) - Signals right turn
  • Jwa-hoe-jeon (좌회전)- Signals left turn
  • Jik-jin (직진) - Go straight
  • Yeo-gi-seo Meom-chwo (여기서멈취) Stop here


Another thing to note about taxis, starting 1/29/2016, no taxi can legally kick you out off a car due to traveling a short distance. If this happens to you, you can report the taxi driver so that they can be fined.

 learning korean

Food/Restaurant Ordering:

Korean is a land of some amazing dishes. To make sure that you can order properly, here are some words for you to know: 

  • Po-chang (포장)- To take out
  • Duh-chi-pae-I (더치페이) / tah-ro tah-ro (따로따로) - To split the bill in half or to split it amongst what people have ordered.
  • So-mek (소맥)- Mixture of beer plus a shot of soju
  • Chi-mek (치멕)- A classic after dinner meal of fried chicken and beer
  • Bbae (빼)- Take out/Remove a certain ingredient off of your dish

learning Korean

Everyday words used to describe people:

Sometimes there are literally no words in English to describe what a person is or feels. These are words that can help you explain a person’s characteristics. 

  • Noon-chi-up-seo (눈치없서)- Having no awareness or common sense. For example, if you are trying to flirt with someone and then your best friend tries to talk to the same person without knowing you are flirting
  • No-Jaem (노잼)- Something that is not fun. You can use this anytime you feel that someone or something is boring or not interesting.
  • Ut-pu-dah (웃프다)- This word is used to describe moments where you do not know if you should cry or laugh.
  • Maen-boong (멘붕)- Having a mental breakdown. This can be used when something you knew was going to happen but ultimately got taken away or was destroyed at the last second.
  • Man-raep (만렙) - Meaning level 10000, this word is used to describe someone who is really good or is a master at something. This word is derived from role-playing-game (RPGs) characters whose level increases after reaching particular achievements.

 Hopefully these words can help you survive a little bit better when teaching in Korea.

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Marc has been living in Seoul and working at the ChungDahm Learning' s Gangdong Branch for 4 years now. He has worked his way up from being a teacher and to a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.

Tags: korean phrases, Korean language, learning Korean, dating while in Korea, Taxis in Korea, Transportation in Korea, Korean food, Korean fun, ordering food

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