korean nouns

150 Core Korean Nouns

Need to start filling up your Korean vocabulary bank?

This list contains 150 must-know nouns from the language that’ll serve as a great foundation for the rest of your studies.

While 150 might sound like a lot, you’ll probably notice patterns between words that can make memorization easier.

Plus, there are plenty of words that are just Korean transliterations of English words!



There are over 50 million people living in Korea today. A big population for a relatively small country, and all the more reason you should learn the nouns associated with people.

Knowing these nouns will get you by in a lot of social situations that require identification.

남자 mannam-ja
여자 womanyuh-ja
소년 boyso-nyun
소녀 girlso-nyuh
친구 friendchin-gu
아기 babyah-gi
어린이 childuh-ri-nii
십대 teenship-dae
어른 adultuh-reun
아줌마 / 아주머니 middle-aged womanah-joom-ma / ah-joo-muh-ni
아저씨 middle-aged manah-juh-ssi
노인 / 어르신 elderly personno-iin / uh-reu-shin
대선배 / 선배 seniordae-sun-bae / sun-bae
후배 juniorhu-bae
고객 customer / clientgo-gaek
낯선 사람 strangernat-sun sa-ram
관계 relationshipgwan-geh


Family is a big deal in Korean culture. The close bonds between family members are seen as hallmarks of societal success.

There are a lot of special names and titles for Korean family members, and I’ll be the first to admit that memorizing all of them can be difficult.

The titles can differ depending on which side of the family a person comes from, and whether or not they’re older or younger than you or someone else.

That said, knowing at least these nouns will definitely get you some brownie points with the fam!

가족 familyga-jok
아이들 childrenah-ii-deul
아들 sonah-deul
형제 brothers / siblingshyung-jeh
자매 sistersja-meh
부모님 parentsbu-mo
어머니 motheruh-muh-nii
아버지 fatherah-buh-ji
남편 husbandnam-pyun
아내 wifeah-nae
조부모님 grandparentsjo-bu-mo
사촌 cousinsa-chon
손주 grandchildson-ju


These are helpful nouns to know if you’re interested in learning about (or joining) the Korean workforce.

Korea is a popular hub for international employees, so it’s definitely an option to consider if you’re looking to work abroad.

직업 careerjih-geop
학생 studenthak-seng
선생님 teachersun-saeng-nim
의사 doctorui-sa
간호사 nursegahn-ho-sa
요리사 chefyo-rii-sa
변호사 lawyerbyun-ho-sa
과학자 scientistgwa-hak-ja
경찰관 police officergyung-chal-gwan
운동 선수 athleteoon-dong sun-soo
배우 actorbae-woo
예술가 artistyeh-sul-ga
미용사 beauticianmi-yong-sa
기관사 engineergi-gwan-sa
정비사 mechanicjung-bii-sa
판매원 salespersonpahn-mae-won


Trains, buses, cars—oh my!

Cars may remain the most common mode of vehicle-based travel in Korea, but the expansive public transportation system is certainly a thing to behold.

In fact, if you ever travel to Korea, I highly recommend you just bask in the convenience, speed and cleanliness of the available public transport modes.

자동차 carja-dong-cha
버스 busbuh-seu
택시 taxitaek-shi
기차 traingi-cha
ship / boatbae
비행기 airplanebi-haeng-gi
자전거 bicycleja-jeon-guh
오토바이 motorcycleoh-toh-ba-ii
train stationyuhk
버스 정류장 bus stopbuh-seu jung-nyu-jang
공항 airportgong-hahng
도로 roaddoh-ro
거리 streetguh-rii
승객 passengerseung-gek
운전수 driveroon-jun-soo
티켓 tickettee-ket
교통 trafficgyo-tong


Sure, you can simply call most things on this list a “building,” but knowing just that noun won’t get you far in navigating a Korean town or city. 

So make sure you know these nouns for common places you might come across!

도시 citydoh-shi
시골 countrysideshi-gol
학교 schoolhak-gyo
식당 restaurantshik-dang
사무실 officesa-mu-shil
가게 storega-geh
시장 marketshi-jang
쇼핑몰 shopping mallsho-piing-mol
병원 hospitalbyung-won
약국 pharmacyyak-gook
경찰서 police stationgyung-chal-suh
은행 bankeun-haeng
미술관 art gallerymi-sul-gwan
공원 parkgong-won
교회 churchgyo-hwae
극장 theatergeuk-jang
노래방 karaokeno-rae-bang
호텔 hotelho-tel
카페 caféka-peh

Media and Technology

Whether it’s the newest K-pop music video or the next household cleaning robot, Korea is very big on trends in both media and technology.

And these trends are quick to get picked up. With a super-fast internet connection and high digital immersion among the population, it’s no wonder that communications can reach the masses so easily.

You can also use technology to help you study Korean! The language learning platform FluentU, for instance, helps you learn Korean vocabulary, grammar and cultural nuances in context.

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And those are all good reasons to learn some of the vocabulary related to technology and media.

전자 공학 electronicsjeon-ja gong-hak
기술 technologygi-sul
텔레비전 TVtel-leh-bii-jeon
인터넷 interneteen-tuh-net
컴퓨터 computerkum-pyoo-tuh
노트북 laptopno-teu-book
전화기 telephonejun-hwa-gi
스마트 폰 smartphoneseu-ma-teu pon
메세지 messagemeh-seh-ji
카메라 cameraka-meh-ra
소식 newsso-shiik
음악 musiceu-mak
영화 movieyung-hwa
라디오 radiora-dii-oh
광고 commercialgwang-go


Korean cuisine is continuing to rise in popularity, what with its reputation for being healthy, unique and just plain delicious.

If you haven’t tried any Korean food yet, you’re missing out on some fantastic experiences your taste buds will cherish. 

And whether you’re going to a Korean restaurant or the local Korean supermarket, you’re going to have to know some basic food vocab to get by.

음식 mealeum-shiik
/ ricessal / bahp
쥬스 juiceju-seu
김치 kimchigim-chi
채소 / 야채 vegetableschae-so / ya-chae
고기 meatgo-gee
생선 fishsaeng-sun
과일 fruitsgwa-eel
반찬 side dishban-chan
사탕 candy, sweetssa-tang
디저트 dessertdee-juh-teu
아침밥 breakfastah-chiim-bahp
점심 lunchjum-shiim
저녁 dinnerjuh-nyuk
간식 snackgan-shiik


It isn’t just a matter of pointing out your head, shoulders, knees and toes.

If you’re in Korea, knowing how to say the body parts is vital for many situations, primarily those that are medical in nature. You wouldn’t want the doctor looking into your ears when you have a broken arm!

머리 headmuh-rii
얼굴 faceeol-gool
어깨 shoulderuh-kkae
가슴 chestga-seum
다리 legda-rii


In Korean and any other language, it’s crucial to know how to communicate your thoughts and feelings.

So you should definitely learn the words for some of those everyday sentiments you have.

생각 thoughtsaeng-gak
감정 emotiongam-jeong
사랑 lovesa-rang
싫음 dislike, disgustshi-reum
배고픔 hungerbae-go-peum
기쁨 joygi-bbeum
흥분 excitement, agitationheung-bun
재미 funjae-mi
놀라움 surprisenol-ra-woom
슬픔 sadnessseul-ppeum
걱정 worrygeok-jeong
실망 disappointmentshil-mang
두려움 feardu-ryuh-oom


This is a good first taste of the Korean language, and there’s so much more to look forward to. Asking for English for every word gets tiring quickly, so now you won’t have to!

Sure, it’s a pretty big list that’ll keep you busy, but you’ll get all these words down in time. Soon enough, you’ll be moving on to learn hundreds more and move into the thousands!

To get you motivated, here’s one more word that’s used wish people good luck: 화이팅 (hwa-ii-ting), which means “fight on!”

And One More Thing...

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