The internet is a place of wonders – and that includes slang. Over the years, Korean netizens have developed their own list of slang words to communicate online. And while most came and went, these 5 words stuck around for years and are now considered daily vocabulary both on and offline for Koreans!
5. “Jeul (즐)”
“즐”, pronounced “Jeul” in English, first became an internet thing as “KIN”. When written in all capital letters, “KIN” resembled the Korean word “즐” sideways – and it became a Korean netizens’ version of “Talk to the hand” or “F*ck off”. It is still widely used as a way of disregarding an opinion.
A: I think he’s kind of ugly.
B: Whatever. KIN.
4. “Jjeol-Uh (쩔어)”
“쩔어”, pronounced as “Jjeol-uh”, is at least a decade old. It is said to have originated from regional dialect, and to have carried a negative connotation of being exhausted or completely drained, but over time it has taken place as a versatile expression of either amusement. With songs like BIGBANG‘s “Zutter” and BTS‘s “DOPE” being based off this term, “Jjeol-uh” now most closely means cool and awesome.
A: Have you seen the new teaser?
B: YES! It totally jjeol-uh.
3. “Daebak (대박)”
“대박”, pronounced “Daebak” in English, dates possibly all the way back to early 2000s. While the origin remains disputed, “daebak” is an expression of astonishment. It mainly has a positive connotation – as the word itself defines as “big hit”. Now, as it transformed in usage over the year, the term can be used to express both pleasant surprise as well as shock or disgust.
A: This is daebak bop!
B: I think the MV is daebak too.
2. “Jjang (짱)”
“짱”, pronounced as “Jjang”, is one of the oldest standing slangs in the Korean language. It is said to have originated from the Chinese character 長 which, in Korean, is pronounced as “Jang” and means “Leader” or “Captain”. At first, in late 1990s to early 2000s, “Jjang” was more used in teen culture – for naming the “strongest / most popular” kid at school. Over time, it came to stand as slang for “the best”. “Jjang” can often be interchangeable with “Jjeol-uh” and usually comes as a set.
A: Whoa, this choreography is jjang.
B: Oh yeah. They’ve always been jjang good.
1. “Hul (헐)”
“헐”, pronounced “Hul” in English, is the most versatile of all slangs. It can be used to express surprise, disappointment, shock, happiness, agitation, and many other human emotions – depending on context and tone of voice. With such flexibility in definition, “Hul” is by far the most widely used internet-based slang word in Koreans’ daily lives.
A: Hul? What the heck, yo.
B: What happened?
A: They’re apparently dating.