The Most Common Korean Slang Terms That You Should Know

Korean youth nowadays tend to use a playful form of spoken language to express what they want to say more shortly. 신조어 or Korean slang consists of words that have been altered to include the latest trend as well as words that are abbreviated. One way to speak like a native is by learning modern Korean slang. It’s a great way to become more familiar with the culture and understand locals more on your next trip to South Korea.

Are you ready to speak more like a native Korean? We list down 10 Korean slang terms that will make you an instant in-ssa (insider)!


심쿵 (sim-kung)

via MBC

심장 (simjang) means “heart” and 쿵쿵 (kungkung) the “booming” sound your heartbeat makes. It is the emotional heart attack you feel when you think about your crush or after you see someone extremely attractive.



칼군무 (kal-gun-mu)

This slang term means “a knife group dance or to dance perfectly in sync”. It is used to describe the dancing appearance of an idol group. K-pop group SEVENTEEN is known to be the performance powerhouse because of their perfectly in sync performances.



성덕 (seong-deok)

via tvN

성덕 (seong-deok) is used to refer to someone who has been a longtime fan and then later meets their idols. It’s the short form of 성공한 덕후 (seong-gong-han deok-hu) referring to a successful fan.



인싸 (in-ssa)

via SBS

인싸 means a trendy individual and is the abbreviation of 인사이더 (insider). This term refers to a person who is aware of every trend, gets along with people, and works with passion within a group that they belong to.



훈남 (hun-nam)

via tvN

훈남 (hunnam) comes from 훈훈하다 (hunhunhada), which means “heartwarming” and 남자 (namja) “man”. This is used to describe a guy who is handsome and well-mannered that will your heart just by looking at him.



불금 (bul-geum)

via SBS

This is an expression similar to TGIF or Thank God It’s Friday. 불금 (bulgeum) literally means burning Friday. Natives say this slang as they get pumped up for their weekend activities.



케미 (ke-mi)

via MBC

This Korean slang comes from the word “chemistry” in English. It is used when there is “chemistry” between two people or a good feeling that is made between a male and a female.



남사친 (nam-sa-chin)

via tvN

남사친 (namsachin) means “a male friend”. You can use this term for a male friend who is not your significant other. 남 (nam) came from 남자 (namja) “man”, 사 (sa) from the term 사람 (saram), meaning “person,” and 친 (chin) from 친구 (chingu), which means a “friend”.



비담 (bi-dam)

via KBS2

비담 (bi-dam) or 비주얼 담당 (bi-ju-eol-dam-dang), means “visuals in-charge”. This term is used to refer to the most good-looking person in a K-pop group. K-pop groups are assigned specialty areas to their members including visual, dance, vocal, and rap.



대박 (daebak)

via tvN

This term is popular among any K-drama and K-pop fans and is still a highly used word in the Korean language. It originally means jackpot or big success. But native speakers also use it as an exclamation or emotional outburst. It came from the phrase 대박나다 (dae-bang-na-da), which means to be successful.



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*Featured image via tvN