When reel becomes real, and you’ve finally met the oppa of your dreams, there’s nothing that can come in between…except for the language barrier. If you’re not well-versed with the Korean language, Filipina vlogger Shaney Ibarra has you covered as she shares the basic Korean words the couples in the Land of the Morning Calm usually use.
Imagine you are walking home when heavy rain pours and you don’t have an umbrella. You just continued walking in the rain, ‘cause really, what else can you do? Then suddenly, the rain seems to stop and when you look up, a charming man is holding an umbrella for you. Your eyes meet then everything goes in slow motion. *Cue in a romantic background music*
Cheesy right? In the Korean drama world, the umbrella scene is the onset of deeper feelings between the two main characters in addition to the piggyback ride scene, head patting scene, and forehead kiss scene. These Korean dramas’ subtle acts of romance and men’s chivalry captivate women audiences from all over the world.
But have you ever wondered, is dating in Korea the same as how K-Dramas show it?
Are Korean men as gentlemanly as Crash Landing On You’s Lee Jeong Hyeok, as dreamy as Lee Gon of The King: The Eternal Monarch, and as cool as Lee Young Joon in What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?
Based on my personal experience, the answer is both yes and no. To understand further, let me walk you to South Korea’s current dating culture. And if you are planning to date an oppa, continue reading because I will share some basic Korean words and phrases that I encounter while dating Korean men.
25 Romantic Korean Phrases and Words to Learn if You Want to Date a Korean
Here’s a list of the Korean words with meanings so that you will not have to worry about the language barrier when you finally meet a Korean.
- 오빠 (oppa) – older brother; term of endearment
- 커피 마실래? (kopi masilrae?) – do you want some coffee?
- 맛있는밥을 사줄게 (madinneunbabeul sajulge) – i will treat you.
- 맛집 (matjip) – highly-recommended restaurant
- 아줌마 (ajumma) – middle-aged woman
- 잘 먹엤습니다 (jal mogetsseumnida) – thank you for the food.
- 잘 먹었습니다 (jal mogotsseumnida) – I enjoyed the meal.
- 잘 가요 (ja gayo) – good bye; take care
- 라면 먹고갈래? (ramyeon mokkkogalrae) – let’s eat ramyeon
- 안녕하세요(annyeonghaseyo?) vs여보세요? (yoboseyo) – hello
- 끊어 (kkeuno) – bye
- 카톡 (katok) – Kakao Talk messaging application
- 밥은? (babeun?) – have you eaten?
- 예쁘다 (yeppeuda) – pretty
- 너 귀엽다 (no gwiyoptta) – you are cute
- 친절한 사람 (chinjolhan saram) – you are sweet
- 대박 (daebak) – awesome
- 너 최고! (chuego!) – you are the best!
- 보고싶어 (bogo shipo) – I miss you
- 너 생각 (no saenggak) – I’m thinking of you
- 잘 자 (jalja) – goodnight
- 내꿈꿔 (naekkumkwo) – see me in your dreams
- 좋아해 (jowahe) – I like you
- 사귀할래? (sagwihallae?) – let’s start dating
- 사랑해 (saranghae) – I love you
What’s inside this blog?
- Getting to Know Stage: 11 Korean Words to Know
- Flirting Stage: 11 Korean Phrases to Tell Your Oppa
- Dating Stage: 3 Important Korean Words to Remember
- Frequently Asked Questions About Korean Words
Getting to Know Stage
1. 오빠 (oppa) – older brother; term of endearment
Let’s start with one of the basic Korean words, oppa. If you are an avid Korean drama fan, I am sure that you have already heard the Korean word oppa a thousand times. Because of oppa word popularity, foreigners call any cute Korean man an oppa.
But what is the meaning of oppa? Basically, the oppa meaning in Korean is an older brother. It is used when a woman is calling or talking to an older man whether he is related to her or not. When I say older, the age difference between the man and woman is 5 to 10 years.
My South Korean ex-boyfriend, who is 4 years older than me, asked me to call him oppa when we started hanging out. I just continued calling him oppa until we officially dated so the oppa meaning changed from older brother to endearment. There are also married women who call their husbands oppa. In this case, oppa meaning in Korean can be honey or babe. However, I think it is still a preference of a Korean guy if he wants to be called such. I dated other Korean older guys before my ex-boyfriend and they don’t mind if I call them just by their name.
2. 커피 마실래? (kopi masilrae?) – do you want some coffee?
Korea’s coffee culture can be widely seen in Korean drama. If you are familiar with Korean dramas, I am sure you know some Korean coffee shop chains like A Twosome Place (as seen in Start Up) and Angel-in-us (as seen in It’s Okay Not to Be Okay and Hospital Playlist). Koreans love for culture is cross from all ages. Korean coffee shops are always jampacked with studying students, middle-aged people’s business meetings, elderly’s get-together and lastly, sweet couples!
Based on my experience, when you are dating a Korean guy, one of the often Korean phrases that you will hear is 커피 마실래? (kopi masilrae?) It is also my indication if a guy is interested in me. Either dine-in or take out, going to a coffee shop is always part of 데이트코스 (date course) or date itinerary.
3. 맛있는밥을 사줄게 (madinneunbabeul sajulge) – i will treat you.
Another frequently heard Korean phrase in the dating world of the Land of the Morning Calm is 맛있는밥을 사줄게 (madinneunbabeul sajulge) which literally means “I will buy you delicious food.” When a Korean guy tells you this, it is an indication that he is interested in you. Also, if you have something to celebrate like birthdays and promotions, he will treat you to nice and expensive food. In my opinion, this act is part of men’s chivalrous culture in Korea.
I remember when my ex-boyfriend and I were in a department store, he asked me if I wanted the accessory I was looking at because he can buy it for me. I was surprised and told him that he doesn’t need to do that because if I really like it, I can buy it on my own. He also offered to pay for our dates, but I suggested splitting the bill or paying alternately.
4. 맛집 (matjip) – highly-recommended restaurant
Koreans are taking restaurant online reviews seriously and that’s where 맛집 (matjjip) was born. If you are looking for restaurants, one of the basic Korean words you should know is 맛집 (matjjip). You can see that Korean word in Korean navigation applications, blogs, and vlogs.
맛집 (matjip) literally means tasty place. It is short for 맛있는 집 (madinneun jip). So if a restaurant has high reviews, definitely it is 맛집 (matjip). My ex-boyfriend always vigorously reads restaurant reviews online before we go. And because Koreans trust the online reviews seriously, expect that a 맛집 (matjip) is full of dating couples or friends hanging out.
5. 아줌마 (ajumma) – middle-aged woman
As you noticed in K-ean dramas like Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, many restaurants are run by ajumma. I bet every K-drama fan knows what the ajumma meaning is. The ajumma meaning is a middle-aged woman. However, I strongly suggest never use that Korean word carelessly because for some women, the ajumma meaning is old woman, and of course, no woman wants to be called old, right? Instead of ajumma, it is safe to call them 이모 (imo) which means aunt.
6. 잘 먹엤습니다 (jal mogetsseumnida) – thank you for the food.
If your date pays for the food, you will naturally say 감사합니다 (kamsahamnida) which is thank you for Korean. If you want to sound like a local, you can say 잘 먹엤습니다 (jal mogetsseumnida). If you translate it from Korean to English, it literally means “I will eat well.” But normally, it is a way to say thank you in Korean when having a meal.
7. 잘 먹었습니다 (jal mogotsseumnida) – I enjoyed the meal.
After the meal, you can show gratitude by saying 잘 먹었습니다 (jal mogotsseumnida). It can mean delicious food or thank you in Korean. Every time I am in a restaurant, I always hear Koreans saying 잘 먹었습니다 (jal mogotsseumnida) to the restaurant owner after paying for the food. Before, I was confused between 잘 먹엤습니다 (jal mogetsseumnida) and 잘 먹었습니다 (jal mogotsseumnida) because they sound the same. My ex-boyfriend was always correcting me until I got used to it.
There is no direct English to Korean word translation of goodbye. However, you can say goodbye in Korean through 잘 가요(jal gayo). It is a combination of “take care” and “goodbye in Korean.”
9. 라면 먹고갈래? (ramyeon mokkkogalrae) – let’s eat ramyeon
If your first date didn’t end with 잘 가요 (jal gayo) and he said 라면 먹고갈래? (ramyeon mokkkogalrae)…run! Your date probably doesn’t want a serious relationship. I didn’t experience a date who asked me that question, but I encountered Korean men that are not into serious relationships.
10. 안녕하세요(annyeonghaseyo?) vs여보세요? (yoboseyo) – hello
However, if your date ends well, Korean men usually call or send you a message right away. Generally, Koreans like to call even if they just want to ask you simple things. One time, I asked the person I was dating about why he prefers to call than sending a message when asking simple things like where I am. He explained that it is easier to call because you can know the answer right away.
You can say two ways of hello in Korean language. These are안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo?) and여보세요? (yoboseyo). Basically, the English to Korean word translation of hello is annyeonghaseyo.
The Annyeonghaseyo meaning can also be “how are you?” and they usually say annyeonghaseyo as a greeting when they are talking to someone in person. But in the case of a phone call, they usually answer with 여보세요? (yoboseyo). 여보세요? (yoboseyo) also means hello in Korean language. So if you are dating a Korean, expect many 여보세요? (yoboseyo) because like I said, Koreans like calling. If you two become more closer, you can answer the phone call by 예 (ye) which can also be used as hello like we say “yes?” in English.
11. 끊어 (kkeuno) – bye
Earlier, I said that goodbye in Korean is 잘 가요(jal gayo). But there is another way of saying goodbye, especially if you’re in a phone conversation: 끊어 (kkeuno). 끊어
Kkeuno literally means cut. When I first dated a Korean, I got confused about why he answered 끊어 (kkeuno) after saying bye to him over the phone. I get confused because in my mind, what does he want to cut? When he noticed that I am not hanging up, he explained that 끊어 (kkeuno) also means bye in Korean.
12. 카톡 (katok) – Kakao Talk messaging application
Based on my experience, the conversation never ends when dating a Korean. After a phone call, my ex-boyfriend will still send a message in 카톡 (katok) – Kakao talk to continue our conversation.
Kakao talk is a widely use all-in-one messaging application in Korea. In the messaging app, you can also shop, send money, and many more.
Below, I list some of the Korean words and phrases with meanings that I usually encounter when texting Korean men.
13. 밥은? (babeun?) – have you eaten?
Just like how we Filipinos date, the question “have you eaten?” is a common one when you are dating because it just shows care for the other person. if you want to say it in Korean phrase, say it as밥은? (babeun?). Usually you use that if you are close to someone. 밥은? (babeun?) is the informal term for먹었어요? (mogossoyo?) 밥은? (babeun?) and 먹었어요? (mogossoyo?) have the same meaning.
14. 예쁘다 (yeppeuda) – pretty
예쁘다 (yeppeuda) literally means pretty or beautiful in Korean language. It is usually used for people or clothes. There is also another word for beautiful in Korean language which is 아름답다 (areumdabda). However, it is usually used for scenery.
15. 너 귀엽다 (no gwiyoptta) – you are cute
귀엽다 (gwiyoptta) means cute in Korean language. Some Korean men like women that are acting cute or 애교(aegyo) as we mostly know in Korean language.
One time, when I got jealous because he was consistently watching Brave Girls’ performance, my ex-boyfriend told me 너 귀엽다 (no gwiyoptta) or “you are cute”. But the truth is I am not trying to be cute.
Also, being a couple in Korea means lots of cute couple pictures from photo booths, cute couple cell phone casings, cute couple jackets, and so on.
16. 친절한 사람 (chinjolhan saram) – you are sweet
Another Korean word to know is chinjolhan saram which means “You are sweet”. My ex-boyfriend told me that they use 친절한 사람 (chinjolhan saram) instead. It literally means that you are a kind person. So when your date is being sweet to you, you can just say that 친절한 사람 (chinjolhan saram).
17. 대박 (daebak) – awesome
If you’ve been watching K-Dramas often, another familiar Korean word you hear is daebak. The Daebak meaning in Korean is awesome. You can use it if you are amazed by something incredible or ridiculous. Literally, the daebak meaning is jackpot or big hit.
18. 너 최고! (chuego!) – you are the best!
If your Korean date or friend did something great for you, you can say 너 최고! (no chuego!) which means “you are the best!” There are many 최고! (chuego!) a cute emoticon in Kakao talk that you can use.
19. 보고싶어 (bogo shipo) – I miss you
My ex-boyfriend and I rarely meet during workdays unless there is something to celebrate like 100 days of dating, and so on. It is unavoidable to miss them. To let them know that you are missing them, you can say 보고싶어 (bogo shipo). 보고싶어 (bogo shipo) which literally means “I want to see you” but it also means I miss you.
20. 너 생각 (no saenggak) – I’m thinking of you
When my ex-boyfriend was flirting with me, he will answer 너 생각 (no saengak) if I ask him what he is doing. Surprisingly, there are several emoticons in Kakaotalk with that message. So, I think couples usually use that Korean phrase often.
21. 잘 자 (jalja) – goodnight
Saying good night is part of the flirting stage in many parts of the world. 잘 자 (jalja) is goodnight in Korean. Literally, it means “sleep well” but it also means a goodnight. It is also like a combination of goodnight and sweet dreams.
22. 내꿈꿔 (naekkumkwo) – see me in your dreams
If you want to end the night with some more flirting, tell him내꿈꿔 (naekkumkwo) or “see me in your dreams.” If both of you have the same feelings, I am sure that your man’s heart will flutter. My ex-boyfriend and I started exchanging 내꿈꿔 (naekkumkwo) when we are already officially dating.
Officially Dating Stage (Official Couple)
23. 좋아해 (jowahe) – I like you
In K-Dramas, when the guy tells 좋아해 (jowahe) it means that the guy and girl are already officially dating. However, that’s not how the real world works. Sometimes, Korean guys will say 좋아해 (jowahe) but still not sure if he wants to make the relationship official. Complicated right? So how will you know if you are already officially dating? Just ask him directly.
24. 사귀할래? (sagwihallae?) – let’s start dating
If he says 사귀할래? (sagwihallae?) after confessing his feelings, it really means that you are already dating each other officially. When my ex-boyfriend confessed to me, he followed it with 사귀할래? (sagwihallae?). Just to make sure that everything is clear, I just asked him if he is already my 남친 (namchin) and he said yes. 남친 (namchin) is short for 남자 친구 (namja chingu) which means boyfriend.
25. 사랑해 (saranghae) – I love you
If a Korean guy says 사랑해 (saranghae), it means his feelings for you are already deep. Even in Korean drama, you will notice that 좋아해 (jowahe) is commonly used in the onset of the relationship. But it still depends on the person. Some Korean men say 사랑해 (saranghae) in the onset of the relationship.
If your feelings are the same as his, of course, you should answer I love you too in Korean. But how? Simple. Just say 나도 사랑해 (nado saranghae). It is the way of saying I love you too in Korean.
At the end of the day, Korean guys are just like many guys in the world. And relationships are not dreamy as it is in K-dramas. There are a lot more that I want to share but for now, here are the basics. For more of my Korean life and experiences, you can subscribe to my Youtube channel with the link below.
BONUS: More Romantic Korean Phrases and Love Words
Everything alright? – 별일 없지? – (Byeolil eobji?)
I want to see you – 만나고 싶어 – (Mannago Sipeo)
You are handsome! – 잘 생겼어요! – (jal saenggyeosseoyo!)
You are pretty! – 예쁘네요! – (yeppeuneyo!)
Can I hug you? – 안아도 돼? – (Anado dwe?)
Can I kiss you? – 키스해도 돼? – (Kiss-haedo dwe?)
Stay here with me – 내 곁에 있어줘 – (Nae gyeote isseo jweo)
I’m yours – 난 네꺼야 – (Nan Ne-kkeoya)
Will you be my Valentine(girlfriend or boyfriend)? – 나랑 사귈래? – (Narang saguillae?)
I’ve got a crush on you – 너에게 반했어 – (Neo-ege banhaesseo)
Frequently Asked Questions About Korean Words
Q: What are the most common Korean words?
A: If you want to learn the basic words in the Korean language, here’s a list of the most common Korean words and meanings:
- Hello – annyeonghaseyo
- Please – juseyo
- Thank you – gomapseumnida
- Sorry – joesonghamnida
- Excuse me – jeogiyo
- Yes – ne
- No – aniyo
- Maybe – amado
- Older brother; term of endearment – oppa
- Awesome – daebak
Q: What are some cute Korean words?
A: Impress your oppa with these cute phrases! Read this Korean words list and remember every word.
- Oppa – older brother; term of endearment
- Yeppeuda – pretty
- No gwiyoptta – you are cute
- Daebak – awesome
- Bogo shipo – I miss you
- Jowahe – I like you
- Saranghae – I love you
Q: What do I call my boyfriend in Korean?
A: It really comes down to what your boyfriend prefers but Korean words you’d like to use to call him are 왕자님 (wangjanim)”, 오빠 (oppa), 자기야 (jagiya), 내 사랑 (nae sarang), or 여보 (yeobo).
Q: What is thank you for Korean?
A: Kamsahamnida means thank you for Korean. But if you want to sound like a local, you can say jal mogotsseumnida to thank someone for treating you to a nice meal.
Q: What is hello in Korean language?
A: Hello in Korean language can be said in two ways: annyeonghaseyo and yoboseyo. The former is commonly used to greet someone in person while the latter is used to greet someone over the phone.
Q: What is cute in Korean language?
A: Gwiyoptta means cute in Korean language.
Q: What is the annyeonghaseyo meaning?
A: The annyeonghaseyo meaning is hello. It is a form of greeting usually used in person.
Q: What is goodnight in Korean?
A: Jalja is goodnight in Korean.
Q: What is the oppa meaning?
A: The oppa meaning is actually an older brother. But it can al;so be used as a term of endearment to your boyfriend.