korean nouns

The First 150 Korean Nouns Beginners Need to Learn

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!

Contents

People

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 folks.

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

남자 (nam-ja) — man

여자 (yuh-ja) — woman

소년 (so-nyun) — boy

소녀 (so-nyuh) — girl

친구 (chin-gu) — friend

아기 (ah-gi) — baby

어린이 (uh-ri-nii) — child

십대 (ship-dae) — teen

어른 (uh-reun) — adult

아줌마 (ah-joom-ma) / 아주머니 (ah-joo-muh-ni) — middle-aged woman

아저씨 (ah-juh-ssi) — middle-aged man

노인 (no-iin) / 어르신 (uh-reu-shin) — elderly person

대선배 (dae-sun-bae) / 선배  (sun-bae) — senior

후배 (hu-bae) — junior

고객 (go-gaek) — customer / client

낯선 사람 (nat-sun sa-ram) — stranger

관계 (gwan-geh) — relationship

Family

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 (ga-jok) — family

아이들 (ah-ii-deul) — children

아들 (ah-deul) — son

(ddal) — daughter

형제 (hyung-jeh) — brothers

자매 (ja-meh) — sisters

부모 (bu-mo) — parents

어머니 (uh-muh-nii) — mother

아버지 (ah-buh-ji) — father

남편 (nam-pyun) — husband

아내 (ah-nae) — wife

조부모 (jo-bu-mo) — grandparents

사촌 (sa-chon) — cousin

손주 (son-ju) — grandchild

Professions

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 (jih-geop) — career

(il) — work

학생 (hak-seng) — student

선생님 (sun-saeng-nim) — teacher

의사 (ui-sa) — doctor

간호사 (gahn-ho-sa) — nurse

요리사 (yo-rii-sa) — chef

변호사 (byun-ho-sa) — lawyer

과학자 (gwa-hak-ja) — scientist

경찰관 (gyung-chal-gwan) — police officer

운동 선수 (oon-dong sun-soo) — athlete

배우 (bae-woo) — actor

예술가 (yeh-sul-ga) — artist

미용사 (mi-yong-sa) — beautician

기관사 (gi-gwan-sa) — engineer

정비사 (jung-bii-sa) — mechanic

판매원 (pahn-mae-won) — salesperson

Transportation

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 the country, I highly recommend you just bask in the convenience, speed and cleanliness of the available public transport modes.

자동차 (ja-dong-cha) — car

버스 (buh-seu) — bus

택시 (taek-shi) — taxi

기차 (gi-cha) — train

(bae) — ship / boat

비행기 (bi-haeng-gi) — airplane

자전거 (ja-jeon-guh) — bicycle

오토바이 (oh-toh-ba-ii) — motorcycle

(yuk) — train station

버스 정류장 (buh-seu jung-nyu-jang) — bus station

공항 (gong-hahng) — airport

도로 (doh-ro) — road

거리 (guh-rii) — street

승객 (seung-gek) — passenger

운전수 (oon-jun-soo) — driver

티켓 (tee-ket) — ticket

교통 (gyo-tong) — traffic

Places

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. Actually, you may just be stuck standing in the same spot.

So make sure you know these nouns for common places to visit!

(jiip) – house / home

도시 (doh-shi) — city

시골 (shi-gol) — countryside

학교 (hak-gyo) — school

식당 (shik-dang) — restaurant

사무실 (sa-mu-shil) — office

가게 (ga-geh) — store

시장 (shi-jang) — market

쇼핑몰 (sho-piing-mol) — shopping mall

병원 (byung-won) — hospital

약국 (yak-gook) — pharmacy

경찰서 (gyung-chal-suh) — police station

은행 (eun-haeng) — bank

미술관 (mi-sul-gwan) — museum

공원 (gong-won) — park

교회 (gyo-hwae) — church

극장 (geuk-jang) — theater

노래방 (no-rae-bang) — karaoke

호텔 (ho-tel) — hotel

카페 (ka-peh) — café

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.

And that’s a good reason to learn some of the vocabulary related to technology and media.

전자 공학 (jeon-ja gong-hak) — electronics

기술 (gi-sul) — technology

텔레비전 (tel-leh-bii-jeon) — TV

인터넷 (een-tuh-net) — internet

컴퓨터 (kum-pyoo-tuh) — computer

노트북 (no-teu-book) — laptop

전화기 (jun-hwa-gi) — telephone

스마트 폰 (seu-ma-teu pon) — smartphone

메세지 (meh-seh-ji) — message

카메라 (ka-meh-ra) — camera

소식 (so-shiik) — news

음악 (eu-mak) — music

영화 (yung-hwa) — movie

라디오 (ra-dii-oh) — radio

광고 (gwang-go) — commercial

Food

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 (eum-shiik) — meal

(ssal) / (bahp) — rice

(bbang) — bread

(mul) — water

주스 (ju-seu) — juice

(sul) — alcohol

김치 (gim-chi) — kimchi

채소 (chae-so) / 야채 (ya-chae) — vegetables

고기 (go-gee) — meat

생선 (saeng-sun) — fish

과일 (gwa-eel) — fruits

반찬 (ban-chan) — side dish

사탕 (sa-tang) — candy, sweets

디저트 (dee-juh-teu) — dessert

아침밥 (ah-chiim-bahp) — breakfast

점심 (jum-shiim) — lunch

저녁 (juh-nyuk) — dinner

간식 (gan-shiik) — snack

Body

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 (muh-rii) — head

얼굴 (eol-gool) — face

(nun) — eye

(ko) — nose

(iip) — mouth

(gwi) — ear

어깨 (uh-kkae) — shoulder

가슴 (ga-seum) — chest

(dwii) — back

(wii) — stomach

(pahl) — arm

다리 (da-rii) — leg

(bahl) — foot

(sohn) — hand

Emotions

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 (saeng-gak) — thought

감정 (gam-jeong) — emotion

사랑 (sa-rang) — love

싫음 (shi-reum) — dislike, disgust

배고픔 (bae-go-peum) — hunger

기쁨 (gi-bbeum) — joy

흥분 (heung-bun) — agitation

재미 (jae-mi) — fun

놀라움 (nol-ra-woom) — surprise

슬픔 (seul-ppeum) — sadness

걱정 (geok-jeong) — worry

실망 (shil-mang) — disappointment

두려움 (du-ryuh-oom) — fear

 

This is a good first taste of the Korean language, and there’s so much more to look forward 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!”

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