English Words You Only Hear in Korea

English Words You Only Hear in Korea


If you listen closely to Korean conversations, you may be able to pick out some English words. Koreans use many loan words, the majority of which come from English. Sure they came from English, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing in Korean language.

In other words, most of them make no sense to anyone who isn’t Korean. It’s called “콩글리시 (Konglish (Korean + English)).” When English native speakers encounter Konglish expressions, they are almost always confused, but at the same time, amused.

Interestingly, a new study from Korea University shows that British people experience a lot of difficulty figuring out the meaning of Konglish.

Let’s compare the inferred meaning by Britain students with the real meaning in Korea. (The question mark indicates that British students couldn’t guess the meaning of the words at all.)


The Inferred Meaning by Britain students

The Real Meaning in Korea

스킨 (skin) natural covering of your body toner
선크림 (suncream) ? sunblock
세트메뉴 (set menu) ? combo
원룸 (one-room) a room studio apartment
화이트 (white) color whiteout or correction fluid
세일 (sale) selling discount
비주얼 (visual) relating to sight, or to things that you can see appearance
사인 (sign) a mark or shape that always has a particular meaning signature
바바리코트 (Burberry coat) ? trench coat
블라인드 (blind) someone who is unable to see window shade
슈퍼 (super) ? supermarket
솔로 (solo) alone those who don’t have boyfriend or girlfriend
앵콜 (encore) ? encore
버라이어티 (variety) It consists of things which are different from each other variety show
스탠드 (stand) ? lamp
대시 (dash) to run or go there quickly and suddenly to approach a charming man or woman
본드 (bond) a strong feeling of friendship, love or shared beliefs and experiences that unites them high-strength adhesive
패딩 (padding) ? bubble jacket
액셀 ? accelerator
콘센트 ? plug socket
룸메 ? roommate
팀플 ? team play
파마하다 ? to perm

Additionally, let me show you the most common Konglish expressions you guys should know.



아르바이트, 알바 (arbeit) part-time job
오토바이 (auto-bike) motorcycle
컨닝 (cunning) cheating on a test
린스 (rinse) hair conditioner
원샷 (one-shot) bottoms up
핸드폰 (hand phone) cell phone
리모컨 (remote-con) remote control
개그맨 (gag man) comedian
비닐백 (vinyl bag) plastic bag
아이쇼핑 (eye shopping) window shopping
와이셔츠 (Y-shirts) dress shirts
에어컨 (air-con) air conditioner
엠티, MT (Membership Training) trips taken for the purpose of team building
오피스텔 (office-tel = office + hotel) a multi-purpose building with residential and commercial units
아파트 (apart) apartment
더치페이 (Dutch pay) Dutch treat
파이팅! (fighting) Cheer up!
스킨십 (skinship) physical contact such as hand holding and hugging
핸들 (handle) steering wheel
셀카 (sel-ca = self + camera) selfie
메이커 (maker) name brands
헬스클럽 (health club) fitness center
매직 (magic) permanent marker
SNS (Social Network Service) social media such as Facebook and Twitter
A/S (After Service) warranty service


There are so many Konglish words, so it would be impossible to cover them all. If you think of any other words I should include, let me know in the comments below. 😀


Reference :

  1. Konglish. 2015. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konglish. Accessed September 7, 2015.
  2. wikipedia.org. 한국어식 영어. 2015. Available at: https://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%ED%95%9C%EA%B5%AD%EC%96%B4%EC%8B%9D_%EC%98%81%EC%96%B4. Accessed September 7, 2015.
  3. 조지은. 한국어 속에 숨어 있는 영어 단어 이야기. 서울: 박이정; 2014.
  4. Shaw R. Korean Konglish: The Definitive Guide. Connect Korea. 2014. Available at: http://www.connectkorea.com/korean-konglish-definitive-guide/. Accessed September 7, 2015.
  5. Kakaotalk emoticon. Muzi.