Family Names Explained

If you’ve been exposed to Korean language even a little bit, you know that almost every family member has its own term. For example, instead of just saying “aunt,” there are different terms used depending on whether the “aunt” is your mother’s sister, your father’s sister, or an in-law.

A couple of months back The Korea Blog did a post about these family terms titled “Who’s Your Big Daddy?” You find it at this link: 

Using graphics and detailed explanations, this entry will answer all your questions and/or possibly confuse you beyond belief. 🙂  But honestly, it’s the best explanation of family terms that I’ve seen. It would be a great one to print out and keep on hand for reference.


Sae hae bok mani… A Greeting for Seollal

While there are many expressions to use in Korean to say, “Happy New Year,” the most common is 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (sae hae bok manhi bah doo seh yo).

When broken down, the expression literally means please receive lots of good luck in the coming year.

If you’d like to hear this phrase pronounced, head over to to The following link will take you to a video lesson in which you’ll hear the phrase pronounced and see it broken down by word. They also go over a few other new year expressions, but don’t worry about those. This three-minute video will explain everything.

Words and Phrases–Animal Sounds

Have you ever thought about the sounds that animals make in other countries? It may surprise you to realize that not all animals sound the same.

Here are some of the sounds Korean animals make.

Dog: mung-mung
Cat: yow, yow
Ducks: kwaek, kwaek
Cows: oo-may
Sheep: maeh
Horse: hee-hee-hing
Frog: gae-gal, gae-gal
Pig: kkool, kkool, kkool
Tiger/Lion: eo-heung
Bee: weeng, weeng
Birds: jjaek, jjaek
Chickens: koki-o, koki-o

Hear these animal sounds at Or check out this couple who show the differences between the sounds in the Philippines and the Korean sounds. I like this one because they have the sounds both in hangul and romanized, as well as saying them. Here’s the link: If you’re interested in hearing the sounds from several different countries, check out this video on YouTube:

Words and Phrases: Happy Chuseok

Today’s language post is short; only two phrases. But you can use it right away. It’s “Have a wonderful Chuseok,” which as many of you already know is like a Korean Thanksgiving and this year falls on Wednesday (Sept. 22).

There are two ways to say it:

추석 잘 지 내 새요.  (Chuseok jal ji nae sae yo.)
 추석 잘 보 내 새요.  (Chuseok jal bo nae sae yo.)
So 추석 잘 지 내 새요, everyone!

Words and Phrases: The Language of Dining

I love to eat. I especially love to eat Korean food. So I thought I’d share some Korean phrases that are used at meal times. As with all of the Words and Phrases posts, the pronunciation included in parenthesis is romanized to approximate how the word is said, not how it would correctly be romanized into English.

Are you hungry?         배고파요?            (Bae go pah yo?)
(The above can be said as a statement “I am hungry” by not adding a rise in intonation at the end.)

Let’s eat.                            먹자                         (Moke ga)

Before eating:             잘 먹겠습니다.          (Jal moke get sum nida)
Literally this means “I will eat very well,” but it implies “Thank you for preparing the food. I appreciate you preparing this food.”

After eating:           잘 먹었습니다.  (Jal moke got sum nida) (The “got” is pronounced more like “go” with a “t.”)
Literally this means “I ate very well,” but again it implies “It was really good. Thank you so much for the food.”

Give me ____, please.     _______ 주세요   (joo say yo)
(For this one, you’d say whatever it is you want then “joo say yo.” For example, if you wanted kimchi, you’d say “Kimchi, joo say yo.”)

It’s delicious.               맛이 있어요      (Ma shee suh yo.)
(This is another that can be said either as a statement or a question, depending your intonation.)

Of course it’s much easier to hear these phrases pronounced. So I’ve found a couple of Web sites where you can hear them. has “Are you hungry?,” “Give me, please,” and “It’s delicious.” You’ll find them under the Korean for Fun tab, Food Phrases. And you’ll find the pronunciations of “I will eat well” and “I ate well” at

One other note: You would use 잘 먹겠습니다 (Jal moke get sum nida) and잘 먹었습니다 (Jal moke got sum nida) to thank those who are cooking for you or buying you a meal. It’s especially important for children to use these terms at meal times.

Words and Phrases–Everyday Expressions, No. 2

This words and phrases post includes more expressions used everyday by parents and children. Again a big “kamsahamnida” goes out to Denise and her family for help with this post. Remember the words in parenthesis are the pronunciations, not how the word would romanized into English.

Note about “yo” (요): You’ll notice that several of the Korean phrases below have (요) at the end. This is pronounced “yo” and makes the sentence polite; it’s a word of respect. Generally, if a parent is speaking to a child, the “yo” is not needed and the sentence can be said without it. However, “yo” is a must when a child is speaking to a parent. So far in our house, we tend to put “yo” on the end since children learn by repeating what the parents say. But now that our son is older, we can probably drop the “yo” and begin to teach him the differences in polite and informal speech.

Sleep well, sweet dreams.  잘 자, 좋은 꿈 꿔  (jal ja, joh eun koom kwo

It’s OK.                                       괜찮아 (요)                  (kwen-chah-nah) (yo)

Don’t cry.                                   울지마                            (Ohl gee mah)

Be patient                                   참아                              (chah mah)

Be careful                                   조심해                          (cho seem hay)

I don’t know.                          모르겠어 (요)                (Mo rŭh gay suh) (yo)

I will be right back.          금방 갔다 올께  (요)   (Koombahng kah tah ol-kay) (yo)

Another way to say Goodnight and Sweet Dreams is 돼지꿈 꾸세요! (Dway gee koom koo say yo). But it’s said mainly to someone who has a big event or an exam the next day.

화이팅 (Hwaiting)

So today my family watched the South Korea-Nigeria World Cup game at our favorite Korean restaurant. The game ended in a tie, but South Korea advanced to the next round. Woo-hoo! It was great to share the experience with other South Korean fans, and after the game we kept hearing fans say, “Hwaiting!” So I decided to focus on that word for today’s language post.

화이팅 (romanized “hwaiting” but pronounced more like “hoy-ting” and also sometimes written as “paiting”), is used as a cheer or word of encouragement–like “Let’s go” or “Do your best”–but can also be used as “good luck” to someone before a test or endeavor of some kind.

Here’s what Transparent Language says about it:

At sporting events, the crowd will cheer on their team with 화이팅, sometimes preceded by 아자, 아자! aja aja! just to get pumped up, and in international matches: 대한민국, 회이팅!! daehanmin-guk, hwaiting!! or even 코리아 화이팅!! koria hwaiting!! Go, Korea!! (

아자 (ah-ja) can used similarly as “Let’s go” or “Let’s do it” alone, as well as with hwaiting.

I’d actually heard both words used before. On the lessons, the instructor says “hwaiting” before he quizzes you on the phrase you just learned. And Geum-Soon in Be Strong, Geum-Soon, often psyched herself up by saying “aja” and pumping her fist.

Both are easy words to work into your vocabulary, especially since South Korea has another World Cup game on Saturday.

Words and Phrases–Everyday Expressions, No. 1

 So this week’s words and phrases are expressions used everyday by parents and children. We’ve been trying to work on using these words and phrases more as we go about our day. Remember the words in parenthesis are the pronunciations, not how the word would romanized into English.

Hello/Good Morning.              안녕하세요?        (Ahn yong hah say yo?)

Goodbye.                                      안녕히 가세요     (Ahn yong hee kah say yo.)
(to person leaving)

Goodbye.                                      안녕히 계세요.    (Ahn yong hee kay say yo.)
(to person staying)

Good night.                                 안녕히 주무세요   (Ahn yong hee joo moo say yo)

Can I have a kiss?                    뽀뽀해요                (Po po hay yo?)

Excuse me                                 실례지만                 (Shil lay gee mahn)
(when interrupting or asking for something)

Excuse me                                실례하겠습니다      (Shil lay ha geh ssŭm nee da.)   
(when trying to get past someone)

You’ll find some of these pronounced on the Multimedia Dictionary site that I noted last week. The address is The first greetings listed here (hello, goodbye, and good night are on there).

The first Words and Phrases post (on May 4) has some of the other everyday phrases listed. On that one are I love you, Thank you, Yes, No, Let’s go, Hurry, Are you hungry?, and I’m sorry.

Words and Phrases–Family Words

Last week’s word and phrases post was a hodge-podge of things. I decided these language posts would be easier if I focused on a theme, so this week it’s words for family members. Again in paranthesis are the pronounciations of the words, not how they would be romanized into English.

I want to give a special thanks to some friends who helped with this post. This couple, who have family ties in Daegu, looked over my list, making some additions and correcting the pronounciation. Thanks again!

Family                         가족                       (kajoke)

Daddy                          아빠                        (ah-pah)

Mommy                     엄마                         (uh mah)

Brother (older of a boy)       형              (hyung)

Brother (older of a girl)       오빠              (oppa)

Sister (older of a boy)         누나                  (noon na)

Sister (older of a girl)           언니                 (uh nee)

Younger sibling                    동생                  (dongsang)
nam is added in front of dong sang for younger brother
yeo is added in front of dong sang for younger sister

Grandmother (paternal)         할머니                   (hahl mo nee)

Grandmother (maternal)        외할머니             (way hahl mo nee)

Grandfather (paternal)           할아버지               (hah rah buh jee)

grandfather (maternal)           외할아버지        (way hah rah buh jee)

Aunt (maternal)               이모                      (ee mo)

Aunt (paternal)                고모                       (gomo)

Uncle (paternal)                삼촌                     (sahm chon)

Uncle (maternal)              외삼촌                 (way sahm chon)

Cousin                                   사촌                     (sah chon)

You can find many of these words pronounced on the this Multimedia Dictionary site. The address is: On the right side of the site, you’ll see a Categories list. Under it are Family 1 and Family 2. Each of these is set up with a family tree. Family 1 includes the family words that would be used by a boy; Family 2 are the words that would be used by a girl. [Note: This site doesn’t use the words I’ve used for parents. Instead of the more informal Appa and Umma, which I’ve used, this site uses the more formal Ahbuji and Omoni.]

Words and Phrases

I wish that I’d know more Korean when our son came home. We’d been learning for the three months prior to going to Korea, but we only knew a little bit.  That’s why I’ve started compiling a list of Korean words and phrases that families can use. 

The one draw back to my list is that since I’ve gathered them from several different sources I don’t have audio files of how they are pronounced. The romanization I’ll provide is written as they would be pronounced, not how the words would actually be romanized. And I’ve included the hangul so you can use some of the other resources I’ve posted already to help with your pronunciation. 

I love you.                      사랑해요.            (Sah rahng hay yo) 

Yes.                                   네.                         (Nay) 

No.                                    아니요.                 (Ahneeyo) 

Thank you.                     감사합니다.        (Kahm saw hahm nee da) 

Let’s go.                           가자                       (kah jah) 

Hurry.                             빨리빨리              (bah lee bah lee, said quickly together) 


Are you hungry?         배고파요?            (Bae go pah yo?) 

I’m sorry.                       미안합니다.         (Me ahn hahm nee da) 

Note: One other thing to know about the Korean language is that the same sentence can be either a question or a statement based on the intonation of how you say it. For example, if you say  배고파요? with a rise in your intonation at the end, it’s a question asking the person “Are you hungry?”. But if you say it without the rise in intonation, it means “I am hungry.” So the question and the answer are said the same in some cases.