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Modern Korean Slang

Korean Slang is always changing with the youth and at times it can be hard to keep up with the new terms. For those who are studying Korean, it can sometimes be hard to understand Korean slang as many of the terms refer to Korean culture. Fortunately for you, we’ve rounded up a handful of the most current Korean slang terms below with their explanations and meanings. Be careful when using these as, like most colloquial terms , these are mainly used among friends and not with people of a higher standing, like bosses or elders.


1. 만반잘부 (man-ban-jal-bu) – 나서 가워 탁해

만나 (man-na) – to meet

반가워 (ban-ga-wo) – pleased, glad

잘 (jal) – well

부탁해 (bu-tak-hae) – to request or ask

Note: This term is an abbreviation of the phrase, “Nice to meet you. Please, look after me.” It’s commonly used when meeting a new person or group of people. “잘 부탁해” also has the connotation of asking another to treat them well as they are new and need help becoming part of the group.

2. 보조배터리 (bo-jo-bae-teo-ri) – a portable power bank

Note: In the age of smartphones, South Korean people use portable power banks to keep their phones running. 보조배터리 is the Korean word used to refer to portable power banks. As they are widely used by younger generations, the slang 보배 has been created making it more convenient to ask your friend for some battery power.


3. 스라밸 (seu-ra-bael) – 터디 & 이프 런스

스터디 (seu-teo-di) – study

라이프 (la-i-peu) – life

밸런스 (bael-leun-seu) – balance

Note: In South Korea, many among the younger generations are overcome by the stress of their studies. It isn’t rare for South Korean high school students to stay in school till the late hours of the night studying for tests and flipping through books. 스라밸 or Study & Life Balance is the term used to refer to the need to take care of oneself and balance their time between studying and other parts of life. For those who have jobs, there is also the term “워라밸” or Work & Life Balance.


4. 아아 (a-a) – 이스 메리카노

아이스 (a-i-seu) – iced

아메리카노 (a-me-ri-ka-no) – americano

Note: Coffee in South Korea is very prominent; prominent enough for the people to create their own slang when referring to it. 아아 is an abbreviation of Iced Americano. In order to keep it short, whenever one orders an iced coffee they simply say or write 아아. For hot coffee, one can also say 뜨아 which is taken from 거운 메리카노.


5. 갑분싸 (gab-bun-ssa) – 자기 위기가 해진다

갑자기 (gab-ja-gi) – suddenly

분위기 (bun-ui-gi) – mood, atmosphere

싸해진다 (ssa-hae-jin-da) – get cold

Note: 갑분싸 is a term that is widely used in Korean media. It became popular in 2018 and is still used today. This term refers to whenever one ruins the mood, therefore making the room suddenly quiet and awkward.


6. 꾸안꾸 (kku-an-kku) – 민듯 안꾸민듯

꾸미다 (kku-mi-da) – decorate, put on make up

Note: Cosmetics in South Korea are of great importance and heavily marketed in the country. However, despite the many brands of makeup and cosmetic stores, there’s a specific look that is popular. 꾸안꾸 refers to the makeup look where one appears to not have applied much makeup at all. Therefore it makes one’s face appear natural and light.

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Featured Image Source: Language, 11/05/19, Inspiremekorea.com

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