In recognition of UN English Language Day, which is observed on April 23 each year to correspond with William Shakespeare’s birthday, we thought it would be fun to celebrate the English language the K-drama way! It’s abundantly clear that the Western vernacular has so permeated the Korean culture over the years that Korea has created its own set of English-derived or English-sounding words that are widely used in everyday life. But if you listen closely, those English words are not used in the English language!
They are the truncated, Anglicized words that belong only in Korean culture. Here are 10 of our favorite such Konglish words!
My Love From the Star — ‘CF’ (씨에프)
|Cheon Song Yi (played by Jun Ji Hyun) was a hot star who was in much demand for ‘CFs’!|
“CF” is an acronym for “commercial film” that Korean stars or idols shoot for products they are paid to endorse. But in English, we call it a commercial endorsement — so CF is not derived from an actual English phrase.
Kill Me, Heal Me— ‘Ment’ (멘트)
|Oh Ri On (played by Park Seo Joon) is at a loss when he is pressed for a ‘ment.’|
“Ment” is the truncated word for “comment.” Why say the entire word when you can just say the last syllable? We would expend much less energy if we can hold entire conversations like this!
My Love From the Star — ‘Netizen’ (네티즌)
“Netizen” is the combination of the words “net” and “citizen” — used to describe an entire society of people online who occupy chatrooms, social media and discussion boards who know everything and express their strong opinions about everything. In K-dramas, netizens have caused the downfall of many popular high school students, idols and stars, and politicians.
Hyde Jekyll, Me— ‘Over’ (오바)
|From top left, people are constantly accused of going ‘over’ in ‘Hyde Jekyll, Me,’ ‘Pinocchio,’ ‘The Legendary Witch’ and ‘Sweden Laundry’!|
“Over” is the abbreviated word for “overreacting” or going “overboard” in the way someone acts or reacts. Being in a state of “over” is quite common in K-dramas!
What Happens to My Family— ‘Punc’ (펑크)
|Kang Shim (played by Kim Hyun Joo) isn’t overly sympathetic when Tae Joo’s (played by Kim Sang Kyung) car tires go flat|
“Punc” is short for “puncture,” as in what happens to your tire, as in having a flat tire on your car. Why say all that when “punc” gets it done?
Incomplete Life (aka Misaeng)— ‘PT’ (피티)
|Geu Rae (played by Im Siwan) and Baek Gi (played by Kang Ha Neul) are under pressure as interns to make the best ‘PTs’ of their young careers to try to get hired by the company.|
“PT” is the Konglish word for “presentation.” It would be equivalent to a PowerPoint presentation, which we abbreviate as PPT when referring to the many business presentations made on the popular Microsoft software in the United States.
Miss Korea— ’S-Line’ (에스라인)
|Ji Young (played by Lee Yeon Hee) learns that standing on your head is the best way to accentuate your ’S-line’!|
“S-line” refers to a desirable hourglass figure, specifically the curves of a woman’s back down around her curvy backside to her legs. Beauty contestants and men alike in Korea yearn for that “S-line”!
Kill Me, Heal Me — ‘Selca’ (셀카)
|When the parents ask for a ‘selca stick,’ they get ridiculed by Ri On and Ri Jin (played by Hwang Jung Eum) for asking for one that is as long as a fishing pole!|
“Selca” is the Korean version of the “selfie.” The truncated word is probably derived from the English words “self” and “camera” but doesn’t exist in the English language. Even on Viki, English subtitlers have been replacing the word “selca” with “selfie.”
Hyde Jekyll, Me — ‘Skinship’ (스킨십)
|Seo Jin (played by Hyun Bin) details the strict life he has lead for five years to prevent his other personality from coming to the surface!|
“Skinship” is a made-up word derived from the words “skin” and “relationship” that refers to skin-to-skin contact between a man and woman. In K-dramas, it doesn’t even have to be any intimate body parts touching. Even brushing your hands against another person’s hand is considered skin-on-skin contact and a very intimate gesture!
Sweden Laundry— ‘Some’ (썸)
|Young Mi (played by Bae Noo Ri) wants ‘some’ from her best friend’s older brother!|
“Some” is a term that is short for “something” — which is an English word. But what it means in K-dramas is uniquely only found in the Korean culture. Wanting or having “some” with somebody means that you want something romantically to happen between you and another person. So don’t throw around that word unless you mean it!
Did you learn a new word today? Which Konglish word is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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