63 Korean Words You Never Knew You Knew!

Korean Loanwords or Konglish | You Already Know Some Korean!

Korean Loanwords do really exist, and they are here to make your life learning Korean easier than you thought!

There is nothing clickbaity about the title! You genuinely already know a number of words in Korean (even if you’ve never studied Korean) thanks to Korean Loanwords, or Konglish!

Today we are going to teach you 63 of those words! But first, to answer a question that’s probably on your mind…

Korean Loanwords

WTF is Konglish you ask? Well you’ve heard of Chinglish right? (if not click that link).

The equation to Konglish is simple:

Konglish = Korean + English

It’s the same as Chinglish (with Chinese) and the same as Singlish (with the Singaporean accent of English).

However, whilst Chinglish generally relates to more humourous translations of English to Chinese, and Singlish focuses on the accent… Konglish is essentially Korean Loanwords.

As Wikipedia states:

Konglish refers to English loanwords that have been appropriated into Korean and includes many English words that are used in ways that are not readily understandable to native English speakers.

For more of that check out the Konglish article on Wiki here.

So why are we teaching you Konglish?

Korean Loanwords

Well, learning Korean Loanwords is actually an incredibly motivating way to learn a language as tricky as Korean. By already discovering a number of words in a language completely different to English, it gives us a mental boost.

It proves to us learning languages like Korean is absolutely not impossible, and that there are similarities, even if the two languages differ so much.

So today, to help you along your Korean journey we want to give you a foot up, and get you believing it can be done.

We will split the words in categories below… so pick your favourite or better still, study them all!!

Remember when looking at the words, focus on the Romanization if you cannot read Korean, this will show you how to pronounce the script.

Korean Loanwords / Konglish – Food

Korean Loanwords / Konglish – Daily Life

Korean Loanwords / Konglish – Culture

Korean Loanwords / Konglish – Work Culture

Korean Loanwords / Konglish – Technology

Korean Loanwords / Konglish – Beauty & Fashion

Korean Loanwords / Konglish – Expressions

Korean Loanwords / Konglish – FAQ’s

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KOREAN LOANWORDS / KONGLISH – FOOD

Because food is more important than anything else… so obviously it comes first.

Korean cuisine is also something else! If you are yet to discover it, oh boy, you’re in for a treat.

Here’s some Korean Loanwords you already know in English!

  • Cake – 케이크 (keaikeu)
  • Cider – 사이다 (saida)

Chicken – 치킨 (chikin) refers to fried chicken. The recipe for fried chicken came from Black American soldiers who were stationed in Korea after the Second World War and now has become a staple in Korean culture.

Trust us, Korean’s LOVE fried Chicken!
  • Chocolate – 초콜릿 (choko-lit)
  • Dessert – 디저트 (dijeoteu)
  • Hot Dog – 핫도그 (hat-dogeu)

Ice Cream – 아이스크림 (iseu-keulim). Very easy to remember and a lifesaver when you are in Korea during the summer months!

This one deserves some extra attention…

One Shot! 원샷 won-syat – Ever been in a bar with your friends and you are the last one to finish their drink (yea, me too)…!

This is an expression when you go out to drink with friends or colleagues and you have to finish your drink in one shot.

As you can see by the romanization, the Korean is remarkably similar, if not identical to the English, “One Shot”!

  • Whipping Cream – 휘핑크림 (hwiping-keulim)
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KOREAN LOANWORDS / KONGLISH – DAILY LIFE

  • Apartment – 아파트 (a-pa-teu)
  • Ballpoint Pen – 볼펜 (bol-pen – shortened from Ballpoint Pen)
  • Big Size – 빅 사이즈 (bik-sa-ee-jeu)

Bond – 본드 (bond-deu). Nothing to do with our friend James Bond. Instead this is taken more literally meaning glue.

Korean Loanwords

Eco Bag / Bag for Life – 에코백 (eh-ko-baek). With plastic bags becoming a thing of the past when going to the supermarket, Eco Bag is a very 21st century word to know. Thankfully in Korean, it’s the same as English!

  • Health Club – 헬스클럽 (helseu-keulleop)
  • Key Chain (Key Holder) – 키홀더 (ki-holdeo)
  • Kitchen Towel – 키친타올 (kichin-taol)
  • Klaxon – 크락션 (keulag-syeon)
  • Menu – 메뉴 (menyu)
  • Morning Call – 모닝콜 (mo-ning-kol)
  • Nightclub – 나이트 (na e teu)

Open Car / Convertible – 오픈카 oh-peun-ka. Cool one this is. A car which top opens is what? Exactly, a convertible!

  • Physical Contact (Skinship) – 스킨십 (seukin-sip)
  • Plastic Bag – 비닐백 (binil-baeg as in vinyl bag)

Rear View Mirror – 백미러 (baeg-mileo – spoken as back mirror). A mirror that allows you to see what’s behind you is known as a “back mirror” in Korean. Easy to remember?!

Loanwords in Korean
  • Report – 리포트 (li-poteu)
  • Ribbon – 리본 (li-bon)
  • Running Machine / Treadmill – 러닝머신 (leo-ning-meo-shin)
  • Sale – 세일 (seil)
  • Screwdriver – 드라이버 (deulai-beo, spoken as driver in English)
  • Self Service – 셀프 (sel-peu, spoken as self)

KEY NOTE – In Korean the R sound does not exist so you’ll notice words like Running and Ribbon start with the L so they essentially sound like Lunning and Libbon in English.

Solo – 솔로 (solo). This one is mostly used by younger generation, when you’re single, you’re enjoying the “solo” life!

Think Single Life in English!
  • Sun Cream – 선크림 (seon-keulim)

Taxi – 택시 (taegsi). Taxis are quite cheap in Korea but it is rare to find English speaking drivers, it might be useful to learn a few words in Korean to communicate with your driver.

This article is a good starting point!
  • Window (Eye) Shopping – 아이쇼핑 (ah-ee-syo-ping)

KOREAN LOANWORDS / KONGLISH – CULTURE

Healing – 힐링 (hil-ling). The word “healing” refers to the action of resting. Koreans often refer to resting time as healing time. Lovely feeling, isn’t it? 

  • Hoodied T-Shirt – 후드티 (hu-deu-ti)
  • Pop Song – 팝송 (pap-song)
  • Sign – 사인 (sain)

Studio (apartment) – 원룸 (won-lum, spoken as one room in English). It is very common in big cities like Busan or Seoul to have studio apartments for younger people to live in. These studios are composed of one room only, that’s why they are called “one room” in Korean.

Villa – 빌라 (billa). This is very specific to Korea. A villa is an apartment (often quite old fashioned) in smaller buildings and not particularly highly prised by younger/trendier people who prefer to live in Apartments 아파트 (aparteu) located in high rise buildings. 

  • Supermarket – 슈퍼 (syu-peo)

KOREAN LOANWORDS / KONGLISH – WORK CULTURE

Career Woman – 커리어우먼 (keorieo-umeon). Spoken almost exactly the same as the English version, a career woman is a woman who works, and lives to work, taking great pride in her career.

  • Marketing – 마케팅 (maketing)

Salary Man – 샐러리맨 (saelleoli-maen). This word is very common both in Japan and Korea. It refers to employed men in big cities with suits and briefcases, businessmen. 

  • Team – 팀 (tim)

KOREAN LOANWORDS / KONGLISH – TECHNOLOGY

Time to get techy with the top Korean Loanwords in Tech.

  • Air Con – 에어컨 (aeo-con)
  • Digital Camera – 디카 (di-ka – short for Digital Camera)
  • Remote Control – 리모컨 (rimo-keon)
  • Selfie – 셀카 (selka)
  • Smart/Hand Phone – 핸드폰 (haen-deu-pon)

KOREAN LOANWORDS / KONGLISH – BEAUTY & FASHION

Acetone – 아세톤 (a-seh-ton). What do you use to remove nail polish? Acetone! Nice and easy!

Loanwords in Korean

Burberry (the brand) – 버버리 (bo-bo-ri) – The most famous trench coats are from the brand Burberry. Because of this, the brand slipped into common language and is now a trench coat is a Burberry. A bit like how a tissue can be referred as a Kleenex.

  • Manicure – 매니큐어 (mae-ni-kyueo)

Panty – 팬티 (paen-ti). It’s worth nothing whilst in English Panties generally only refer to female underwear, in Korean that is not the case. 팬티 is gender neutral so chaps, don’t be worried about describing your underwear as Panties!

Sexy – 섹시 (seg-si). This one speaks for itself! 

KOREAN LOANWORDS / KONGLISH – EXPRESSIONS

Comfort Food – 소울푸드 (soul-pudeu, spoken as soul food in English). This concept is very important to Koreans, as food is a huge part of their life. Comfort food is food for the soul, or “soul food”

Dutch Pay (Going Dutch) – 더치 페이 (deo-chi-peh-ee). When the group split the bill between them, meaning everyone pays their own share.

It’s worth noting this is not very common in Korea. Usually the elder person/people will pay for everyone. 

FIGHTING – 파이팅 (pai-ting). Not to fight, but kind of like 加油 in Chinese, the person is trying to cheer you up, encouraging you to do great. The fighting isn’t seen as the physical act to fight, but as in fighting through difficult moments to achieve something great. Learning Korean? FIGHTING!! You got this.

It’s a very common expression in daily life.
  • Mummy’s Boy – 마마보이 (ma-ma-bo-ee)

Visual – 비주얼 (bi-ju-al). Usually when we say someone is a “visual” it means they are good looking or the most good looking person in a group.

Working Mum – 워킹맘 (woking-mam). While Korea is still a very traditional and Confucian society, it is not rare to find working mums nowadays. 


There we have it 63 words in Korean you already knew! Not so bad is it?

DID YOU SPOT – some words in Korean are taken directly from English but in daily usage their pronunciation was too long, so Koreans cut the words in half to make it easier

Drop us a comment below with any that you found.
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KOREAN LOANWORDS / KONGLISH – FAQ’s

Are there some English words also used in Korean?

Yes and more than you probably think.

Learning Korean Loanwords is actually an incredibly motivating way to learn a language as tricky as Korean. By already discovering a number of words in a language completely different to English, it gives us a mental boost.

It proves to us learning languages like Korean is absolutely not impossible, and that there are similarities, even if the two language differ so much.

What is Konglish?

Effectively it’s Korea and English pushed together:

Korean + English = Konglish.

Konglish refers to English loanwords that have been appropriated into Korean and includes many English words that are used in ways that are not readily understandable to native English speakers.

What does 파이팅 mean in English?

It’s spoken as pai-ting. This is not to fight, but kind of like 加油 in Chinese, the person is trying to cheer you up, encouraging you to do great.

The fighting isn’t seen as the physical act to fight, but as in fighting through difficult moments to achieve something great. Learning Korean? FIGHTING!! You got this.

How do you say Sexy in Korean?

섹시 (seg-si) – almost exactly the same as English!

Is Taxi the same in Korean?

Essentially yes. Taxi in Korean is 택시 (taeg-si).

How do you say Mummy’s Boy in Korean?

Mummy’s Boy is actually spoken almost exactly the same as in English:

마마보이 (ma-ma-bo-ee)

Want More From LTL?

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    Johan Brandal , Student Advisor

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