For Korean learners: You need to know that, unfortunately, the real world looks a bit different from what you learnt, more confusing and less structured with the use of slang. Here we will tell you why you must study slang, and you will learn 5 of the most used Korean slangs in everyday life and how to use them properly!
Slang is an aspect of language that isn’t usually taught in the classroom but is an important part of becoming proficient in any language. A person learning Korean might attend daily classes. They might study the grammar and the formalities and might even produce complex and coherent sentences. But, take this student out of the classroom and away from the textbooks, and they will encounter a world of language that breaks the rules they learned.
Although studying proper Korean rules is important, slang is unavoidable, no matter what language you’re speaking. In drama and k-pop, conversations and advertising, language becomes less formal and goes less and less “by the rules”. Real-life Korean is so different from the textbooks.
Taking the time to understand slang and informal speech will boost your communication and language skills, and save a whole lot of confusion. Slang will allow you to use language in a current, useful way. No amount of time in class can prepare you for the contemporary nuances you’ll be faced with when you put your language knowledge to practical use out in the real world.
It’s time to cover common Korean slang expressions that are used every day in Korea!
1. 장난 아니다 (jangnan anida) - No kidding
This expression means “no kidding” or “it’s no joke.” It can also be used to express that something is amazing. It is intended to express extremes. 장난 (jangnan) means “joke” and 아니다 (anida) means “not.”
장난 아니다. 숙제가 너무 많아.
jangnam anida. sukjega neomu mana.
It’s no joke. I have too much homework.
2. 오나전 (onajeon) - Totally
The word 오나전 (onajeon) means “totally.” 오나전 (onajeon) originated from the Korean word 완전 (wanjeon) meaning “completely, totally.” It used to be a common typo of 완전 (wanjeon) and is now a slang word. You can use this expression when exaggerating or emphasizing something.
오늘 오나전 기분 나빠.
Oneul onajeon gibun nappa.
I feel totally awful today.
3. 쩐다 (jjeonda) - Great
The word 쩐다 (jjeonda) literally means “great in scale.” But when it’s used as a slang expression, it means “great.” You can use this expression when referring to something enormous or great. This expression is often used by young men.
여기 음식 쩐다,
Yeogi eumsik jjeonda.
The food here is great.
4. 인생짤 (insaengjjal) - Best photo
The word 인생짤 (insaengjjal) literally means “once in a lifetime shot.” But when it’s used as a slang expression, it means “best photo.” You can use this expression when referring to one’s best photo. This expression is often used by young people.
이 사진이 내 인생짤이야.
I sajini nae insaengjjariya.
This is the best photo of me.
5. 핵노잼 (haengnojaem) - Boring
The word 핵노잼 (haengnojaem) literally means “nuclear no fun.” It is a combination of three words: 핵 (haek), 노 (no) and 재미 (jaemi) meaning “nuclear,” “no,” and “fun.” 잼 (jaem) is the contraction of 재미 (jaemi). When used as slang, the whole word means “boring.” You can use this expression when describing something so boring that the level of boredom can be compared to being nuclear. This expression is often used by teenagers.
이 수업은 핵노잼이야.
I sueobeun haengnojaemiya.
This class is so boring.
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