Titles of Coworkers, People and Family in Korean

Category : Career/Business / Korean Cultures / Surviving in Korea
Nov 28, 2014

In Korean culture, the relationships between people are extremely important. It is essential that people respect those older than them, superiors, and the elderly. People use honorific titles when speaking or referring to someone in a higher position. Korean language includes honorific meanings to reflect the speaker and writer’s relationship to the subject of the sentence and the listener. Honorifics can be used formally or informally. Usage is based on the intimacy between the speakers. The following are the titles used for members of family, business titles and titles of people you meet in everyday life. Titles are also handy because you don’t need to remember anyone’s name!

 

Titles of Family

These are the Korean titles people use to call members in their family. It can be complicated to keep straight, because sometimes there are two or three titles used for the same person.

 

Basic Family titles

Hangeul

Romanization

English Meaning

어머니

[eomeoni]

Mother

엄마

[eomma]

Mom

어머님

[eomeonim]

Honorific form of mother

아버지

[abeoji]

Father

아빠

[appa]

Dad

아버님

[abeonim]

Honorific form of father

[hyeong]

Older brother

(used by a younger brother)

형님

[hyeongnim]

Honorific form of older brother

(used by a younger brother)

오빠

[oppa]

Older brother

(used by a younger sister)

누나

[nuna]

Older sister

(used by a younger brother)

언니

[eonni]

Older sister

(used by a younger sister)

동생

[dongsaeng]

Younger Brother or sister

(used by an older brother or sister)

여동생

[yeodongsaeng]

Younger sister

(used by an older brother or sister)

 

 

Father’s Side Family Titles

Hangeul

Romanization

English Meaning

할머니

[halmeoni]

Grandmother

(used by grandchildren)

할머님

[halmeonim]

Honorific form of grandmother

(used by grandchildren)

할아버지

[harabeoji]

Grandfather

(used by grandchildren)

큰아버지

[keunabeoji]

Father’s oldest brother/oldest Uncle

(used by nieces and nephews)

큰어머니

[keuneomeoni]

Wife of father’s oldest brother/oldest Aunt

(used by nieces and nephews)

작은아버지

[jageunabeoji]

Father’s younger brother/younger Uncle

(used by nieces and nephews)

작은어머니

[jageuneomeoni]

Wife of father’s younger brother/younger uncle

(used by nieces and nephews)

삼촌

[samchon]

Father’s younger brother/Uncle

(used by nieces and nephews)

숙모

[sungmo]

Wife of father’s younger brother/Aunt

(used by nieces and nephews)

사촌

[sachon]

Cousins (father’s brothers’ sons or daughters)

(used by other cousins)

사촌형

[sachonhyeong]

Old cousin brother

(used by a younger male cousin)

사촌오빠

[sachonoppa]

Old cousin brother

(used by a younger female cousin)

사촌누나

[sachonnuna]

Old cousin sister

(used by a younger male cousin)

사촌언니

[sachoneonni]

Old cousin sister

(used by a younger female cousin)

사촌동생

[sachondongsaeng]

Younger cousin

(used by older cousins)

조카

[joka]

Nephew or niece

(used by aunts or uncles)

고모

[gomo]

Father’s sister/Aunt

(used by nieces or nephews)

고모부

[gomobu]

Husband of father’s sister/Uncle

(used by nieces or nephews)

고종사촌

[gojongsachon]

Cousins (father’s sisters’ sons or daughters)

(used by other cousins)

 

 

Mother’s Side Family Titles

Hangeul

Romanization

English Meaning

외할아버지

[oeharabeoji]

Mother’s father/Grandfather

(Used by grandchildren)

외할머니

[oehalmeoni]

Mother’s mother/Grandmother

(Used by grandchildren)

외삼촌

[oesamchon]

Mother’s brother/Uncle

(used by nieces and nephews)

외숙모

[oesungmo]

Wife of mother’s brother/Aunt

(used by nieces and nephews)

외사촌

[oesachon]

Cousins (mother’s brothers’ sons or daughters)

이모

[imo]

Mother’s female sibling/Aunt

(used by nieces and nephews)

이모부

[imobu]

Husband of mother’s female sibling/Uncle

(used by nieces and nephews)

이종사촌

[ijongsachon]

Cousins (mother’s sisters’ sons or daughters)

 

 

Business/Work Titles

At work or when doing business, Koreans never use given names. They always refer to coworkers and superiors by their formal work titles. If you want to be extra polite, add nim/님 to the end of the title. This puts the title in the honorific form. Business honorific forms can be compared to saying “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Miss” or Ms” in English, so it’s best to use them.

 

Hangeul

Romanization

English Meaning

회장 (님)

[hoejang (nim)]

Chairman, Chairwoman

부회장 (님)

[boohoejang (nim)]

Vice Chairman, Vice Chairwoman

사장 (님)

[sajang (nim)]

President or CEO

대표이사 (님)

[daepyoisa (nim)]

President or CEO(Representative Director)

전무/전무이사 (님)

[jeonmu (nim)]

[full title:

jeonmuisa (nim)]

 

Senior Managing director

상무/상무이사 (님)

[sangmoo (nim)]

[full title:

Sangmooeesa(nim)]

 

Managing Director

이사 (님)

[eesa (nim)]

Director

부장 (님)

[boojang (nim)]

Division Head

차장 (님)

[chajang (nim)]

Vice Head of a Division

과장 (님)

[gwajang (nim)]

Head of a Unit

대리 (님)

[daeri (nim)]

Assistant Manager

계장 (님)

[gyejang (nim)]

Team Leader

사원

[sawon]

Staff

 

 

Titles of People

These are titles used to call people that you interact with but not family members or co-workers.

Hangeul

Romanization

English Meaning

의사선생님

[uisaseonsaengnim]

Honorific form of doctor

선생님

[seonsaengnim]

Honorific form of teacher

어르신

[eoreusin]

Honorific form of elder people

교수님

[gyosunim]

Honorific form of professor

누나

[nuna]

Older female

(used by a younger male)

오빠

[oppa]

Older male

(used by a younger female)

[hyeong]

Older male

(used by a younger male)

언니

[eonni]

Older female

(used by a younger female)

 

아주머니

 

[ajumeoni]

Honorific form of Madam/older married female

 

아저씨

 

[ajeossi]

Honorific form of Mr./older married male

기사님

[gisanim]

Honorific form of driver

 

 

IMAGE SOURCE

Tags : Korean title, Honorific

Lindsey lived and worked in Seoul, South Korea for over 5 years. While there, she dabbled in different areas of work and explored the culture. She spent time teaching elementary students, business English to adults and high school students about college preparation. She also studied Korean, wrote blogs and tasted as many foods as she possibly could including fermented skate fish. Over the years, Lindsey developed a love for Korea and the culture. She is keen to share her knowledge of Korea with others and she will always consider Korea a second home.

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