KOREAN TEXTING SURVIVAL, part I
You have been in Korea a couple of months now. Your Korean is getting better that you can communicate with some of the locals now. You can exchange texts from time to time and then without knowing it, someone sends you a message and you have no idea what it means. Its shorts, no vowels are used (just consonants) and it absolutely makes no sense. Worknplay is here to help.
PART I: THE ABBREVIATIONS
I am a Korean American who has been residing in Korea for about three years now. I spent that past two years studying in college. I can speak Korean on a conversational level but don’t ever ask me to write Korean. My grammars terrible and I still probably can’t put proper sentences together. However over the past three years I’ve learned how to text (im)properly in Korean slang. You can think of it as Americans using texts such as “lol” (laughing out loud) or “wtf” (Why the face?). Here are a few of the harder Korean abbreviations in texting.
1. ㅇㅇ: this one should be pretty easy. It basically means 응. 응 is used as a simple “yes” or when you’re in an agreement with the person you are corresponding with.
Friend A: You trying to hit up a club tonight?
Friend B: ㅇㅇ
2. ㅇㅋ: this is also a no brainer. ㅇㅋ is okay in Konglish.
Friend A: I will slap you if you eat one of my wings again.
Friend B: ㅇㅋ
3. ㄷㅊ: one of my favorite and if used in the wrong contexts, you will seem like an ass. It can also be used in the comedic context. ㄷㅊ is short for 닥쳐. 닥쳐 means shut up but with more force. Yes, English speakers casually say shut up to their friends but when someone says 닥쳐 you sense hostility in the air.
Friend A: You tried to kiss everyone last night including the bouncer.
Friend B: ㄷㅊ
4. ㅊㅋ: this one’s pretty tough. You probably won’t understand it right away. ㅊㅋ is 축하해요 which means congratulations. It’s a very casually way of saying congrats on your accomplishments
Friend A: I’m pregnant!
Friend B: ㅊㅋ
5. ㄱㅅ: I’ve used this many times since entering the Korean texting life. ㄱㅅ is short for 감사합니다 which means thank you. In America we like to use “thanks” or “ty”. Same in Korea.
Friend A: Hey your mom stopped by the apartment and dropped off your Dora the Explorer backpack
Friend B: ㄱㅅ
6. ㅎㅎ (also ㅋㅋ or ㅋㄷㅋㄷ): this is Korea’s version of “haha” or “lol.” It’s a way of showing the person that what they said was funny. I usually use it when I don’t have a response to what the other person has said, like a casually way of ending the conversation.
Friend B: I blacked out and sent my boss a drunken selfie
Friend A: ㅎㅎ
7. 샘: I’ve never actually used this but a lot of children use this world to call their teacher. 샘 is short for 선생님 which means teacher. In my opinion it is an extremely cute way of saying teacher and I’ve heard it before too, it’s doesn’t make you feel that old.
8. ㅂㅂ: I didn’t realize this. It should have been one of the easier ones to understand on this list. ㅂㅂ is shorts for 바이바이 or bye bye. Using the B-pronunciation, Koreans use ㅂ. It seems extremely inconvenient. Better to just use bye or “안녕.”
9. ㄴㄴ: Don’t know why you would have to write it twice but ㄴㄴ is short for 노노 which translates to “no no.” I just like using 노우. ㄴㄴ can be confused with 네네 which translates to “yes yes” so be careful when using this abbreviation.
10. ㅅㄱ: One of the more ironic abbreviations on this list is ㅅㄱ which is short for 수고하세요. This translates to keep up the good work. But if I was working my ass of and someone sent me this I would think this was very inconsiderate. You’re telling me to keep up the good work with two Korean consonants? Get out of here. Write out the whole phrase!
11. 방가: One of the more friendly abbreviations on the list is 방가 which is short for 방가워요. But 방가워요, to me, sounds way too formal. 방가 is definitely something you send a friend you have talked to in a while. It’s more used in situation where you don’t want to say something like “안녕” (hello) or “뭐해?” (What are you doing?).
12. ㄷㄷ: I found this pretty intriguing. While doing my research or my years of texting I’ve never see these consonants put together. ㄷㄷ is short for 덜덜 which is the expression used when you’re shivering because you’re either scared or amazed. I don’t really think this abbreviation is used that often.
13. ㅎㅇ: Alright now it’s getting pretty ridiculous. Do we really need a shorter word for “hi” or “hey” or even “안녕?” ㅎㅇ is the abbreviated for 하이 which is konglish for “Hi.” I don’t there is further necessary explanation for this. If someone sent me ㅎㅇ, I wouldn’t even respond.
14. 쩐다: I do not know the origins for this word. I have heard this word used in many contexts from many different people. It’s an interesting word and there is no direct translation for this world except that it is used when you’re amazed or surprised. It can be translated to “wow,” “oh snap” “awesome” “cool” or even “amazing.”
15. 짐: This is definitely a tough one. If you see it in a text, you can casually read this over and not realize it. 짐 is the short for 지금 which is translated to “now” or “right now.” You sometimes miss it when reading a text and you can get confused like this, “짐나와” At first glance it looks as though it says come out of the house but I really means come out now.
16. 어케: This is definitely one of my favorite abbreviations. 어케 is derived from the word 어떻게 which directly translates to “how?” How are you going to do this? – 이거 어떻게 할거예요? If I were using it with the abbreviation 어케 해? Extremely short and to the point right?
I will attempt to use all 16 abbreviations in an example text message between two friends.
John: ㅎㅇ, Andrew! What’s going on?
Andrew: 방가~~~ John! What’s up fool?
John: Yo let’s go out tonight. I just finished finals and my 샘 told me I passed with flying colors
Andrew: ㅇㅇ ㅊㅋㅊㅋ. You’re definitely buying drinks tonight!
John. ㄴㄴ. I don’t have that much money~
Andrew: What the hell did you call me for then?
John: Buy me drinks.
Andrew: ㅎㅎ ㄷㅊ!!! You poor as bastard.
John: Come on! Let’s at least go out!
Andrew: 짐??? 어케? It’s 12pm. I’m at work bro. I get off at 9. Lets go then
John: Alright. ㅅㄱ!
Andrew: Should I just leave now? ㄷㄷ
John: 쩐다. You’re crazy!
Andrew: Alright see you at the bar. ㅂㅂ!
Abraham Kim is a Korean American living in the outskirts of Seoul, Korea. He loves movies, baseball and hip-hop. He is a self-proclaimed pizza and sriracha aficionado. He likes to live his life a quarter mile at a time.