‘Arasseo,’ ‘Andwae,’ and more: Words you will often hear in K-dramas and what they mean


For Kdrama newbies, it might be quite a struggle understanding the Korean language and so we rely heavily on the subtitles. That, in itself, is also a different kind of struggle especially when you’re in the middle of something like cooking, washing or folding laundry or just trying to simply relax. Most of the time, you have no choice but to turn your full attention – and then some- to the little eyesores at the bottom of the screen while trying to peek at the gorgeous faces of your favorite Korean actors. Rather frustrating for some, we might say.

But surprise, surprise! As we get hooked deeper into the beautiful stories from the diverse genres of the Kdrama world; and the hours of binge watching continue to stretch long into the night (or the wee hours of the morning), we slowly recognize bits and pieces of the words they frequently use. Not only that, we also start to associate those words into their actual meanings through simple context clues, gestures of the actors or by merely doing a quick search on good ol’ Google.

 We may never be bonafide Korean speakers when we learn some of these words but at least we are equipped with the basics the next time we watch our favorite oppas on television.

 Let’s take a quick look on some of those Korean words. Who knows, you might be amazed that you know more than you realize.

 1) “Yeoboseyo”- The word they use as “Hello” when answering a call.

 2) “Annyeonghaseyo”- This is a widely used Korean greeting. A formal way to say “Hello”.

 3) “Kamsahamnida” (or Gamsahabnida)- Saying “Thank you” in a polite manner.

 4) “Gomawo”- This also means “Thank You”, but informal. Mostly used when the person you’re talking to is a family member, friend or colleague.

 5) “Arasseo”- This means “understood”/”I understand” or “I got it”. It can also be used as a question to ask “Do you understand?” or “Do you get it?”.

 6) “Andwae”- This is used to express a strong feeling of disbelief, disagreement or shock. It means “No way!”.

 7) “Aniyo”- This is used to say “No”.

 8) “Ne” (can be heard pronounced as “De”)- This is used to say “Yes”.

 9) “Saranghae” – Simply put,  “I love you.”

 10) “Hajima”- This means “Stop it” or Don’t do it.

 11) “Mianhae” (can be heard pronounced as “Biane”)- The informal way of saying “I’m sorry”.

 12) “Joesonghamnida”/”Joesonghaeyo” – Formal and polite way of saying “I’m sorry”.

 13) “Kol”- You got it. It means “Call” or “Deal” in slang when you’re either taking up an offer or a challenge or agreeing on a bet. Most likely an English loan word.

 14) “Gwaenchanha” – This means “I’m okay”, “I’m fine”/“It’s fine” or “I’m alright”/“It’s alright”. It can also be used as a question to ask “Are you okay?” or “Is it okay?”.

 15) “Eomma”- This is an informal way to call your mother. A way of calling her “Mom”.

 16) “Appa”- This is an informal way to call your father. A way of calling him “Dad”.

 17) “Eomeoni”- This is the formal way to address your mother. It can also be used to address your Mother in Law.

 18) “Abeoji”- This is the formal way to address your father. It can also be used to address your Father in Law.

 19) “Harabeoji” – This means “Grandfather” or can be used to call an elderly man.

 20) “ Halmeoni”- This means “Grandmother” or can be used to call an elderly woman.

 21) “Ahjussi”- The term used when referring to a middle-aged man; a way to call someone “Mister”.

 22) “Ahjumma”- The term used when referring to a middle-aged or married woman.

 23) “Oppa”- The most overused term in the Kdrama world; mostly used by women to refer to their older brother, relatives or friends or even male celebrities.

 24) “Gaja’Kaja” – This means “Let’s go”; usually said in a very enthusiastic manner.

 25) “Jebal/Chebal”- This means “Please”; commonly used when begging for something.

26) “Ya”- This means “Hey!”; used when you’re calling someone’s attention or got offended by what someone said, either jokingly or not.

 27) “Mwo”- This is what you use when asking a simple “What?” question.

 28) “Wae”- This is an informal way of saying or asking “Why?”.

 29) “Pyeha”- This is an honorific used to address a King or an Emperor.

 30) “Seonsaengnim”- The literal meaning of this word is “Teacher” or “Mentor” but it can also stand as “Mr” or “Mrs” when addressing someone you don’t personally know.

Feeling a little bit more confident now on some Korean words? Now you don’t need to look further when you hear these words from your favorite Kdrama actors or hustle to read the full subtitle, though using them in sentences is an entirely different thing! As they say, experience is the best teacher, so keep on watching those shows! Who knows? You might end up being fluent in Korean language sooner than you think.