Learning Korean Drama Phrases – Top 31 Words & Expressions

Due to the success of several Korean dramas, such as Squid Game, One Dollar Lawyer the popularity of Korean dramas continues to grow, and more foreigners are learning Korean through Korean dramas.

Let’s learn some of the most common Korean drama phrases, words, and expressions that are used in your favorite dramas in South Korea.


Index


1. Learning Korean through Korean Drama

Certain Korean phrases appear in dramas more often than in other formats. If you don’t know native speakers to learn Korean with, watching dramas is a good way to practice. Also, a certified Korean drama addict will notice that certain slang words have become popularized by their use in drama and have since become a more common part of everyday Korean conversation.

For example, the word 미생 (misaeng | incomplete-life) was originally a term used in the Korean game 바둑 (baduk | Go)! Now it has become a popular word to describe the Korean office environment thanks to this famous K-drama (and 만화 | manhwa) of the same name.


2. Korean Drama Phrases

2-1. 콜 = Call / Deal

콜 (kol) 

This is one of the many words Koreans consider as Konglish. This means “call” or “deal” and is used when you are up for the challenge or when you are agreeing on something.


2-2. 장난해? = Are you kidding me?

장난해?

장난해?(jangnanhae) 

The Korean phrase 장난해? (jangnanhae)  could be a statement or a sarcastic question. This is often used among friends of the same age or with someone younger. This simply means, “are you kidding” or “are you kidding me?”

In K-dramas, you’ll never hear this being said to someone older or someone holding a higher position than the speaker unless the person means to be rude.


2-3. 잠깐만 = Wait for a while

잠깐만

잠깐만 (jamkkanman)

This is one Korean phrase that is usually used when you want another person to wait for you. It literally translates to “for a while” or “wait for a while.” You can add 요 (yo) to it to make it sound polite then that would be 잠깐만요 (jamkkanmanyo).

Another variation of this iconic phrase translating to “wait for a while” is 잠시만요 (jamsimanyo).


2-4. 너 미쳤어? = Are you crazy?

너 미쳤어?

너 미쳤어? (neo michyeosseo)

From the verb 미치다 (michida | to be crazy), this phrase is used on a regular basis in K-Dramas. As this is one of the more rude Korean drama phrases that you will hear, be careful using it in real life. This is an informal Korean word, so saying this during a conversation or in everyday life would be considered very rude. 


2-5. 혹시 = By any chance

혹시 (hoksi)

This word is used at the beginning of a statement or a question where a person is having doubts about a particular thing. The word 혹시 (hoksi) means “by any chance” or “maybe.”


2-6. 오해 하지마 = Don’t misunderstand

오해 하지마 (ohae hajima)

Every K-drama fan will usually hear this phrase in romantic comedies or romantic K-dramas. A person says this when he or she wants to hide his or her true feelings or intentions. But this phrase can generally be used when you don’t want others to misunderstand or misinterpret you.

This phrase consists of two Korean words. The Korean word 오해 (ohae) means “misunderstanding.” The word 하지마 (hajima) from the polite phrase 하지 마세요 (haji maseyo) means “do not.” If you want to sound polite then you may say 오해 하지 마세요 (ohae haji maseyo).


2-7. 이렇게? = Like this

이렇게? (ireoke)

이렇게(ireoke) is a phrase that could be used to ask someone how to do something or instruct someone to perform something in a certain way depending on the context. This phrase means literally “like this,” although the nuance can be “what should I do?”


2-8. 글쎄요 = Well, I don’t know

글쎄요 (geulsseyo)

This is one of the phrases we commonly hear in dramas when a character is being asked for an opinion, idea, or an answer, and he or she doesn’t know what answer to give or they want to have some time to think. This phrase can mean “I don’t know,” “well,” or “let me see.”


2-9. 뻥치시네 = you tell a lie

뻥치시네

뻥치시네(ppeongchisine)

“뻥치시네”(ppeongchisine) is used when the person you are talking to seems to be lying. It came from 뻥을 치다 (ppeongeul chida), which means “you tell a lie.” 


2-10. 아싸! = Oh yeah!

아싸! (assa)

This is an exclamation that can be used in many different situations. It is used when a person just got something he or she wants, won the jackpot, or when a person feels lucky.


2-11. 그럼 그럼 = Sure, sure

그럼 그럼 (geureom geureom)

In K-dramas, we often hear this phrase when the character agrees with another character’s ideas and opinions. It means “sure” or “of course.” 

Sometimes, the word 그럼 (geureom) can be used at the beginning of a sentence that indicates a condition. It can be used to mean “if so..and then.”


2-11. 글쎄요 = Well, I don’t know

글쎄요 (geulsseyo)

This is one of the phrases we commonly hear in dramas when a character is being asked for an opinion, idea, or an answer, and he or she doesn’t know what answer to give or they want to have some time to think. This phrase can mean “I don’t know,” “well,” or “let me see.”


2-12. 어쩔 건데? = What are you going to do?

어쩔 건데 (eojjeol geonde)

어쩔 건데? (eojjeol geonde) means “what are you going to do?” Again, this phrase may only be used towards a person really close to you or someone of your age and to a person younger than you. It would sound rude and impolite when used to a stranger and to an older person.


2-13. 뭘 봐요 = What are you looking at

뭘 봐요 (mwol bwayo)

This question is usually used when a person is looking at you in a strange way.

In dramas, you would usually hear this question among characters who have the same age or are addressed to someone younger. More often than not, using 뭘 봐요 (mwol bwayo), although it has 요 (yo), could be disrespectful when used in the wrong tone. This means, “what are you looking at” or “why are you looking at me.”


2-14. 무슨 소리야 이게? = What are you talking about?

무슨 소리야 이게? (museun soriya ige)

what do you mean? This question can be heard in dramas when the characters hear some strange sound, or they hear a sudden noise. 무슨 (museun) is another form of 뭐 (mwo) and 무엇 (mueot), which means “what.” The word 소리 (sori) means “saying” or “mean,” and 이게 (ige) means “this.”

So, when you hear a strange talk, and you want to know what it is, you may ask 무슨 소리야 이게 (museun soriya ige).


2-15. 어떻게? = How?

어떻게? (eotteoke)

This is one of the common Korean phrases that characters suddenly blurt in Korean dramas when they don’t know how to do something. Sometimes, it is also used to express empathy for another person. Aside from an expression, you’ll also often hear it when someone asks using the question word “how.”


2-16. 하지마 = Don’t do that

하지마 (hajima)

The Korean phrase 하지마 (hajima) means “don’t do that.” It is heard in dramas and among K-Pop artists a lot, along with 가지마 (gajima), which means “don’t go.”  

The words 하지마 (hajima) and 가지마 (gajima) are often said in a pleading tone by whichever character is getting dumped in that particular episode. 

This Korean phrase consists of the verb 하다 (hada | to do) + 지마 (jima | command to not do something)하다 (hada) + 지마 (jima) creates the phrase 하지마 (hajima), meaning “Don’t do that.” It is a shortened version of 하지 마세요 (haji maseyo).


2-17. 하지말라고 = I said don’t do that

하지말라고 (hajimallago)

If the other person doesn’t respond to the speaker’s “하지마” (hajima), then they will keep teasing the speaker. Then the next line out of the speaker’s mouth is often “하지말라고” (hajimallago).

The 라고 (rago) ending is one of the many ways to use reported (indirect) speech in the Korean language (along with 다고 (dago)자고 (jago), and 냐고 (nyago). Using these endings is a little bit tricky and requires some study, so just learn this phrase for now.


2-18. 거짓말이야 = It’s a lie

거짓말이야 (geojinmariya)

Often part of the drama plot will involve somebody lying and eventually being found out. The word 거짓말 (geojinmal) means lie. 이야 (iya) is the standard informal ending for nouns.


2-19. 거짓말 하지마 = Don’t lie

거짓말 하지마 (geojinmal hajima)

Combining the word “lie” with the Korean word for “don’t do,” which is 하지마 (hajima), results in the Korean phrase 거짓말 하지마 (geojinmal hajima). This is one of the popular Korean phrases you’ll hear quite often in Korean dramas.


2-20. 죽을래? = Do you want to die?

죽을래? (jugeullae)

Often this is said in dramas when somebody is really annoying the speaker. The ending -을래(요) (eullae(yo) means “to want” and is often used as a question “do you want?”

In this phrase, it is added to the end of the verb 죽다 (jukda | to die). However, you can also use this ending in other situations, such as 뭐 먹을래요? (mwo meogeullaeyo | “What do you want to eat?”).


2-21. 나 먼저 갈게 = I will leave first

나 먼저 갈게 (na meonjeo galge)

Often in K-Dramas, somebody will have to meet at a café with somebody they don’t like. Usually, this person is an evil mom trying to bribe her with money in an attempt to stop her from seeing her son.

If one person is leaving first, then in informal situations he or she will sometimes say 나 먼저 가 (na meonjeo ga) or 나 먼저 갈게 (na meonjeo galge), both of which mean “I will leave first.”


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2-22. 그래? / 진짜? / 정말? = Really?

그래? (geurae) / 진짜? (jinjja) / 정말? (jeongmal)

In Korean dramas, when somebody finds out some exciting gossip, then he or she will almost certainly say one of these three Korean words.

All of these words mean “really?” in English. They are all used with about the same regularity as the next, so learn them all and use them to sound more natural. You might also hear them with a 요 (yo) at the end.


2-23. 세상에! = What in the world!

세상에! (sesange)

This drama phrase that every K-drama fan might be familiar with is used to express shock or disbelief. It is often used by the character playing the evil old man who is surprised that he hasn’t been shown the proper respect by the main character (despite his repeated attempts to ruin said character’s life).


2-24. 안돼 = It can’t be

안돼 (andwae)

When used in normal Korean, 안 돼(요) (an dwae(yo)) means that something is not allowed.

For example, you could say 수영하면 안 돼요 (suyeonghamyeon an dwaeyo), which means “Swimming is not allowed.” However, in dramas, it is often said by the female character (speaking to herself while crying) just after being dumped. She is literally saying, “he is not allowed to leave me,” as she can’t believe that she got dumped.


2-25. 사과해 / 사과하세요 = Apologize

사과해 (sagwahae) / 사과하세요 (sagwahaseyo)

In dramas, people are constantly asking each other to apologize for trifling things. The other person then refuses to apologize for those things, leading to the two people ending the episode apart.

The verb “to apologize” is 사과하다 (sagwahada). The ending -세요 (seyo) in this context shows that you are asking somebody to do something. The fact that the word is a homonym for the Korean word for “apple” hasn’t been lost on the cheesy Korean drama scripts by scriptwriters who use this terrible pun on a regular basis (for example, in 꽃보다남자 (kkotbodanamja)).

Both of these phrases mean the same thing, but the second one is more polite. Adding -하세요 (haseyo) to certain Korean words will make them sound polite. 


2-26. 미친놈 = Crazy guy

미친놈 (michinnom)

This is one of the phrases that are often said under someone’s breath in K-Dramas. The phrase is made up of two Korean words. The first is 미친 (michin), which means “crazy.” The second is 놈 (nom), which means “person.”

Keep in mind that this is one of those phrases that has negative connotations. It can be used with other adjectives to make a similar Korean phrase, such as “나쁜놈” (nappeunnom) too.


2-27. 사줘= Buy this for me

사줘 (sajwo)

This is one of the phrases that are often used by the whiny rich girl in K-Dramas who is a love rival of the main female character. The word 줘 (jwo) comes from the verb 주다 (juda | to give) and is the informal way of saying 주세요 (juseyo). If you use this phrase, be sure to use your most whiny voice possible.


2-28. 보고 싶어= I Miss You

보고 싶어 (bogo sipeo)

The informal version of “I miss you” in Korean is 보고 싶어 (bogo sipeo). Ninety-nine percent of the time, you will be using this expression with your significant other. Therefore, it is best to start off with the informal way of saying “I miss you” in Korean.

You can turn this expression into a question by changing its intonation upwards at the end. You would ask: 보고 싶어? (bogo sipeo?)


2-29. 잠시만요= just a moment / hold on a second

잠시만요 (jamsimanyo)

This phrase means “just a moment” or “hold on a second.” You would use this phrase when you’re trying to get through a crowded subway in Seoul. Rather than say “sorry,” you’d say 잠시만요 (jamsimanyo).

You might also use this phrase when you’re on the phone or in the middle of a conversation and someone is trying to get your attention. This will be useful to tell the other person to hold on for a moment.


2-30. 실례합니다= just a moment / hold on a second

실례합니다 (sillyehamnida)

This phrase means “excuse me,” as in “I am sorry for interrupting.” You might use this if you’re about to interrupt someone. The word 실례 (sillye) means “discourtesy or bad manners,” so the phrase translates to “I do/have bad manners.”


3. Common People title in korean drama

한국어 (Korean)RomanizationEnglish Meaning
 오빠oppaa slightly older male who you are close to (used by females)
 형hyeonga slightly older male who you are close to (used by males)
 누나nunaa slightly older female who you are close to (used by males)
 언니eonnia slightly older female who you are close to (used by females)
 이모imoa middle aged women (lit. – aunt) who you are slightly close to (for example the shopkeeper in a shop that you frequently visit)
 아줌마ajummaa middle aged women (not as close to you as an 이모)
 아저씨ajeossia middle aged man
 선배seonbaea school friend from a year that is above you
 후배hubaea school friend from a year that is below you

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