If you’re an avid Korean drama series viewer, you must be familiar with the most common Korean words and phrases from K-dramas. Have you ever wondered why they don’t call each other’s names often? I’m sure you’ve heard them call each other oppa, sunbae, or unnie instead if you’ve seen famous and some of the best K-drama series like Doctor Stranger, Penthouse, Jirisan, Startup, Hometown Cha-cha-cha, and W: Two Worlds Apart. However, what do these most common Korean words and phrases from K-dramas and Korean movies mean, and how can you use them in everyday life?

In Korean Culture, Your Age Matters

It’s essential to learn the translation of the words and the context in which they are used. In Korea, age and sex matters a lot when talking to people. Depending on whom the speaker is talking to, the tone and level of formality are crucial—just like in any other language.

When a sentence ends in “-요” or “-yo”, it is mostly in polite form. If you want the sentence to be more casual, you can just drop the “-요” or “-yo” to make the tone intimate. Speaking in 반말 (banmal) within your peers shows familiarity and close relationship.

Common Korean Words and Phrases from K-dramas

For language learners, the easiest way to familiarize themselves with the language is through imitation. Mimicking how a native speaker enunciates or delivers a line helps understand the context of the words or phrases spoken. This is important in the Korean language because it relies heavily on context. So, if you are interested in learning Korean, learning these common Korean drama phrases and words are helpful, especially when you binge-watch Korean dramas and movies. You’re entertained while learning at the same time. Here is a list of Korean to English translations of common words and phrases from K-dramas that you can use!

Hometown-cha-cha-cha-dont-go

가지마 / 가지마세요

Gajima / Gajima Seyo

Don’t go / Please don’t go

You’ve heard this in almost every K-drama you’ve seen so far. One classic example is a tear jerking scene from Hometown Cha-cha-cha, when Hong Du-Sik (Kim Seonho) said those words to Yoon Hye-Jin (Shin Min-a). As the main lead is left behind, he or she exclaims, “가지마!” Gajima is considered a casual form of the more formal one, gajimaseyo. If you are speaking to a friend, you can use gajima. However, if you want a more polite way of saying “don’t go,” gajimaseyo is the word.

Goblin-i-love-you

사랑해(요)

Saranghae(yo)

I love you

Of course, the famous “saranghae.” You’ve heard Ji Eun-Tak say this multiple times to Gong Yoo’s character Kim Shin throughout the Goblin series. You can say this in different ways as well. Saranghae is the casual way of saying it, while saranghaeyo is the more polite way. If you want to say it formally, you should use 사랑합니다 or saranghamnida. For instance, if you’re going to say I love you to your partner, you can use saranghae to show intimacy and closeness.

Squid-games-hyung-law-school-unnie

오빠 / 형

Oppa / Hyung

Older Brother

언니 / 누나

Unnie / Noona

Older Sister

In Korea, calling someone oppa, hyung, unnie, or noona (older brother/sister) is a sign of familiarity and closeness. The terms  do not only signify blood relation but also can be used towards friends who are older than you. If you are talking to an older brother, you can use oppa or hyung, depending on your sexuality. If you are a female, you call them oppa, and if you are a male, you call them hyung. The same goes for your older sister. For females, you call them unnie, and for males, you call them noona. In Squid Games, during a touching scene between Ali and Cho Sangwoo, Sangwoo told Ali to call him hyung to denote closeness and trust.

Kim-mi-kyung-lee-ik-jun

엄마 , 아빠

Eomma, Appa

Mother, Father

Time to change your contact information? Call your mom and dad as eomma and