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10 Funny Korean Neologisms in Daily Life

June 17, 2021

Would you like to learn some funny Korean neologisms that are used in daily life so that locals can believe you to be one of their own? Then, you have come to the right place!

Neologisms are newly coined words or phrases, often driven by changes in culture and technology. This article will introduce you to 10 funny Korean Neologisms, their meanings, and examples of how they are used in natural conversations.



갑분싸 [gapbunssa]

"A comfortable atmosphere changes moood in a sudden"

Koreans use 갑분싸 when a good and comfortable atmosphere changes to a serious and heavy one. 갑분싸 is short for 갑자기 분위기가 싸해지다 [gabjagi bun-wigiga ssahaejida].

Let’s take a look at each part one by one.

  • 갑자기 presents ‘suddenly’ as an adverb.
  • 분위기 indicates ‘atmosphere’ as a noun.
  • 싸해지다 is a verb meaning heavy, especially used with atmosphere, mood, or air.


A: 내 농담 재밌지?
[nae nongdam jaemissji?]
My joke is funny, isn’t it?

B: 야, 지금 갑분싸 된거 안보여?
[ya, jigeum gabbunssa doengeo anboyeo?]
Hey, you cannot see 갑분싸 now?


멘붕 [menbung]

"Having a meltdown"

멘붕 is short for 멘탈 붕괴. 멘탈 is the English word ‘mental’ and 붕괴 is to collapse. Together, it literally means ‘mental breakdown’.


A: 너 초조해 보여.
[neo chojohae boyeo.]
You seem so edgy.

B: 나 논문 때문에 지금 멘붕이야.
[na nonmun ttaemun-e jigeum menbung-iya.]
I am in 멘붕 because of the paper.


불금 [bulgeum]


[bul] means ‘fire’ and 금 [geum] comes from 금요일 [geumyoil], that is Friday in Korean. Much like English speakers say ‘TGIF’, Koreans say 불금 indicating fire or burning Friday. Before having the weekend, most Korean people do anything to burn their stress out.


A: 오늘 불금인데 뭐할꺼야?
[oneul bulgeum-inde mwohalkkeoya?]
What are you going to do today 불금?

B: 새로운 술집에 가볼꺼야!
[saeloun suljib-e gabolkkeoya!]
I am going to a new pub!


모쏠 [mossol]

"Single since birth"

Since birth

모쏠 is an acronym of 모태 솔로 [motae solo]. 모태 literally means ‘inside of a mother’s womb’, so Koreans use the word 모태 for describing something that starts from the very beginning. Solo is same as the English word. 모쏠 is short for 모태 솔로, and refers to someone who has never had a boyfriend or girlfriend.


A: 그래서, 첫키스는 언제 해봤어?
[geulaeseo, cheoskiseuneun eonje haebwass-eo?]
So, when was your first kiss?

B: 나 모쏠이야…
[na mossol-iya…]
I am 모쏠…


혼밥 [honbap]

"To eat alone"

Not too long ago, it was common to be asked “How many people in your party?” when you visited a restaurant in Korea. Eating alone was not a common thing before, but not anymore. With the increasing number of single-person households in Korea, more and more people are eating, living, and spending their time alone. 혼밥 [honbap] is a newly-coined word for combining ‘alone(혼)’ and ‘rice(밥)’. There are more examples for doing something alone!

  • 혼공 [hongong], to study alone
  • 혼행 [honhaeng], to travel alone
  • 혼영 [honyeong], to watch movie alone

A: 점심 누구랑 먹었어?
[jeomsim nugulang meog-eoss-eo?]
Who did you have lunch with?

B: 점심 때 혼밥했어
[jeomsim ttae honbaphaess-eo]
I had 혼밥 for lunch.


티엠아이 [T.M.I]

"Too much information"

TMI is derived from English and stands for ‘Too Much Information’. It is used when someone tells you something way too much that you don’t care about it.


A: 아 그리고 너 또 그거 알아?
[a geuligo neo tto geugeo al-a?]
And also, you know that?

B: 그만해. 티엠아이야.
[geumanhae. tiem-aiya]
Stop it, it’s TMI.



엄친아 [Um-chin-a]

"The son of my mother’s friend"

It’s short for ‘엄마 친구 아들’, which literally means ‘the son of my mother’s friend’. It refers to an outstanding man in every field so the man is used as a comparison. For a woman, you can use ‘엄친딸’ [Um-chin-dtal] indicating ‘the daughter of my mother’s friend’


A: 걔는 운동도 잘하고, 공부도 잘하고, 심지어 잘생겼어!
[gyaeneun undongdo jalhago, gongbudo jalhago, simjieo jalsaeng-gyeoss-eo!]
The guy is very good at sports and studying, and also good looking!

B: 완전 엄친아네!
[wanjeon eomchin-ane!]
He is really 엄친아!


꿀잼 [gguljem]

"Something really fun"

꿀[ggul] means honey in the Korean language. 잼 [jem] is short for 재미있다 [jaemiissda] indicating fun. The compound word 꿀잼 refers something really fun or interesting


A: 영화 어땠어?
[yeonghwa eottaess-eo?]
How was the movie?

B: 꿀잼이였어!
It was 꿀잼!


남사친 [namsachin]

"Male friend who is not a boyfriend"

It is an abbreviated word that is made up of the words 남자 [namja], 사람 [saram], and 친구 [chingu]. 남자친구 [namja-chingu] means a boyfriend in Korean, but if you add 사람 [saram] between 남자 [namja] and 친구 [chingu] the word literally means a male friend. This word is used to assure a listener that a man is not a boyfriend.

For a female friend who is not a girlfriend, you can use 여사친 [yeosachin] that is short for 여자 [yeoja], 사람 [saram], and 친구 [chingu].


A: 같이 가던 그 남자애 누구야? 남자친구야?
[gat-i gadeon geu namjaae nuguya? namjachinguya?]
Who was the man you were walking with? Boyfriend?

B: 아니야! 걔는 그냥 남사친이야!
[aniya! gyaeneun geunyang namsachin-iya!]
No way! He is just 남사친



밀당 [mildang]

"To play hard to get"

Mildang is an abbreviation of the verb 밀다 (push) and 당기다 (pull) in Korean. It is used for flirting and power competing between two people that are interested in each other. Let’s say a woman likes a man and, in order to attract or get his attention, she pretends not being very interested in what he does or says.


A: 걔한테 관심있으면, 밀당을 해봐!
[gyaehante gwansim-iss-eumyeon, mildang-eul haebwa!]
If you like him, start 밀당!

B: 너도 알잖아, 난 밀당에 전혀 소질이 없어.
[neodo aljanh-a, nan mildang-e jeonhyeo sojil-i eobs-eo.]
As you know, I am not good at 밀당.

There you have it.

Start using these newly coined terms to sound like a local and impress your Korean friends. And if you're searching for a language partner, give the Belatone App a try.

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