It seemed like a dream.
The year 2020 will always be remembered as the year COVID-19 sent the human population into “the Great Lockdown.”
Buildings and offices were shuttered, schools were closed and even restaurants were forced to cease operating their deep fryers—tragedy!
But today, thankfully, we won’t be talking about anything dramatic or sensational—you’ve got CNN and Fox News for that.
Today, we’ll take a dive into a special set of Korean vocabulary that’s medical in nature—words that have to do with medicine, diseases and hospitals. But don’t worry, there’ll be no nose poking, and social distancing isn’t required. You don’t even need to wear your N-95 mask.
I guarantee that you’ll come out of this reasonably happy and healthy.
Ready? Let’s go!
4 Korean Medical Dramas to Cure That Itch
Before we get into Korean medical vocab, let’s talk about how you might practice what you’re going to learn today.
Sometimes, the best way to learn about Korean medical terms is to watch dramas involving doctors and nurses, and hospital life in general. And you’re in luck because there’s no shortage of Korean dramas that can lend vivid context to all the terms you’re going to learn here!
There’s just nothing like Joo Won’s boyish good looks to create a medical miracle in your heart.
Here are four of the many Korean dramas you might want to check out!
How ‘bout doctors who share a deep fondness for music? “Hospital Playlist” is a drama about five friends from med school who, after 20 years, find themselves working in the same hospital. The show follows the goings-on in the Yulje Medical Center where our five physicians spend their professional lives. The setting provides you with all the practical medical jargon you could need, as well as makes you fall for the lovable lead characters and their highly relatable patients.
Joo Won brilliantly plays Park Shion—an autistic savant—who navigates hospital life amidst the jealousy of his colleagues and the doubts of his patients. Shion is a pediatric surgery resident at Sungwon University Hospital trying to prove his skills, sanity and stability for the job. Will a genius doctor, but with the mind of a 10-year old, be able to thrive in a highly competitive field, and at the same time have a burgeoning love life? Find out.
Joo Won’s portrayal was so nuanced, it won him the Actor of the Year prize at the 2013 KBS Drama Awards.
This drama’s setting is a small ship that moves around remote islands in Korea, rendering medical services to people typically out of reach by regular hospitals.
The floating clinic is staffed by doctors, each with a personal backstory and struggles of their own. Eunjae is a very talented surgeon in charge of leading a big hospital in Seoul, Kwakhyun is a doctor with a good heart (but with a few emotional scars) and Jaegeol is trying to escape his father’s shadow.
You’ll not only learn how medical terms are used in context, but you’ll also be more attuned to the foibles of the human condition. This one is an engaging watch.
Park Hoon accompanies his father to North Korea to perform surgery on its leader, Kim Ilsung. What was supposed to be a simple mission turns into years in the North. Park Hoon blossoms into a doctor as good as his father and meets the love of his life there.
As a young man, and after the death of his father, Park Hoon is able to flee North Korea and begin anew working in a top hospital in Seoul. His soulmate, Jaehee, is left behind, but he is determined to reunite with her.
As things would have it, there’s another doctor in his hospital who looks exactly like Jaehee. Is it really her? If so, then why is she treating him like a complete stranger? Oh, what twists does this plot weave?!
If you like learning Korean medical terms (and other vocab) through videos, you can also check out FluentU’s content library.
In this clip, for example, Peppa Pig is playing hospital, so we learn things like taking one’s temperature and pulse in Korean.
You can sign up for a free FluentU trial to watch this video and get access to interactive transcripts that let you click on any word to learn more about it and see it used in additional videos and example sentences.
In another clip on FluentU, you actually get a brief lesson on practical vocabulary that you can use when you’re sick.
On FluentU, these videos not only come with clickable subtitles but also flashcards, exercises, quizzes and more.
Sign up for a free trial to keep practicing your medical Korean vocabulary!
And if you need to take a break from medical vocabulary, you can learn 40 travel phrases with the following video from FluentU’s Korean YouTube channel:
If learning Korean vocabulary with engaging videos is your thing, you’re going to love FluentU’s Korean YouTube channel. Subscribe to it today and hit the notification bell so that you don’t miss out on any of the new content!
Sick of Not Knowing Korean? 50+ Medical Korean Words & Phrases to Make You Feel Better
Boo-boos and Illnesses
Okay, we don’t want you to become a hypochondriac in another language, but learning the different illnesses in Korean can help you tell somebody exactly what it is that you’re feeling. More importantly, it’ll also allow you to understand what a native speaker is saying. You don’t want to shout “Haha!” to someone—or maybe you do?—when she tells you she has diarrhea…
In any case, here are some basic Korean terms that you should know.
독감 (dok-gam) — Flu
열 (yeol) — Fever
감기 (gam-gi) — Cold
기침 (gi-chim) — Cough
콧물 (kot-mul) — Runny nose
고열 (go-yeol) — High fever
두통 (du-tong) — Headache
치통 (chi-tong) — Toothache
복통 (bok-tong) — Stomachache
구토 (gu-to) — Vomiting
변비 (byeon-bi) — Constipation
설사 (seol-sa) — Diarrhea
알레르기 (al-le-reu-gi) — Allergy
천식 (cheon-sik) — Asthma
고혈압 (go-hyeol-ab) — High blood pressure
당뇨병 (dang-nyo-byeong) — Diabetes
암 (am) — Cancer
Before we continue, and since we’ll often be talking about the body here, you might want to review the different parts of the body in Korean.
Common Medicine Words
As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If your doctor had his way, you’d be waking up early, running 10Ks, doing yoga, eating right and practicing the art of kindness.
But since you’re too invested in Cheetos, Ben & Jerry’s and the Big Mac, you may have to take some medicine every once in a while.
Here are some medicine-related terms in Korean that you should know.
약 (yak) — Medicine
항생제 (hang-saeng-je) — Antibiotic
아스피린 (a-seu-pi-rin) — Aspirin
기침약 (gi-chim-yak) — Cough syrup
비타민 (bi-ta-min) — Vitamin
진통제 (jin-tong-je) — Painkiller
처방전 (cheo-bang-jeon) — Prescription
주사 (ju-sa) — Shot
수술 (su-sul) — Operation
백신 (baek-sin) — Vaccine
The Doctor Is In!
The Korean word for “doctor” is 의사 (ui-sa). There are different kinds of doctors—those who specialize in bones, skin, eyes, etc.
You can refer to a doctor with a specialty in this format: field/part of the body + 의사.
For example, a dermatologist is known as 피부과 의사 (pi-bu-gwa ui-sa) because the dermatologist treats skin problems, and skin in Korean is 피부 (pi-bu). Literally, dermatologists are called “skin doctors.”
As a sign of respect, we add 선생님 (seon-saeng-nim) to 의사 (ui-sa). It’s a polite titular used for doctors and teachers.
Note that if the doctor you’re referring to isn’t an M.D. but a Ph.D., the term you use is 박사 (bak-sa).
Here are some types of doctors you might meet someday, hopefully not too soon!
내과 의사 (nae-gwa ui-sa) — Physician
소아과 의사 (so-a-gwa ui-sa) — Pediatrician
안과 의사 (an-gwa ui-sa) — Eye doctor
치과 의사 (chi-gwa ui-sa) — Dentist
피부과 의사 (pi-bu-gwa ui-sa) — Dermatologist
부인과 의사 (bu-in-gwa ui-sa) — Gynecologist
심장병 전문의 (sim-jang-byeong jeon-mun-ui) — Cardiologist
외과 의사 (oe-gwa ui-sa) — Surgeon
Let’s say you come in for a test. Here some useful medical terms that should be in your repertoire.
병원 (byeong-won) — Hospital
간호사 (gan-ho-sa) — Nurse
환자 (hawan-ja) — Patient
구급차 (gu-geup-cha) — Ambulance
응급실 (eung-geup-sil) — Emergency room
진찰 (jin-chal) — Examination
진단 (jin-dan) — Diagnosis
증상 (jeung-sang) — Symptom
아픔 (a-peum) — Pain
메스꺼운 (me-seu-kkeo-un) — Nauseaous
어지러운 (eo-ji-leo-un) — Dizzy
떨다 (tteol-da) — Shiver
흐릿한 시야 (heu-lit-han si-ya) — Blurry vision
체온 (che-on) — Body temperature
혈액형 (hyeol-aek-hyeong) — Blood type
맥박 (maeg-bag) — Pulse
Useful Words and Phrases for Emergencies
Knock on wood, but in the rare case that you find yourself in an emergency and you need help, you should have these phrases canned and ready to go. Native speakers can assist you better when you tell them what you need.
Here are some phrases that are literally lifesavers.
아파요. (A-pa-yo.) — I’m sick.
도와주세요. (Do-wa-ju-se-yo.) — Please help me.
제일 가까운 병원으로 가주세요. (Je-il ga-gga-oon byung-won-eu-ro ga-ju-se-yo.) — Please take me to the nearest hospital.
저는 의사가 필요해요. (Jeo-neun ui-sa-ga pi-ryo-hae-yo.) — I need a doctor.
여기가 아파요. (Yuh-gi-ga ah-pa-yo.) — It hurts here.
When you want to tell the doctor about your condition, you can use the following format: _____ 이 있어요. (_____-ee i-ssuh-yo.) — I have _____.
Simply plug in the things that ail you: 설사 (diarrhea), 알레르기 (allergy), 천식 (asthma), etc.
천식이 있어요. (Cheon-shik-ee i-ssuh-yo.) — I have asthma.
Then, smile. Everything’s going to be alright!
And so we’ve come to the end of this post, and nobody even poked your nose.
Don’t think that medical terms in Korean are just for emergencies and hospital visits. They can also be useful when talking about good health and well-being, referring to the human body and even making small talk about how you feel on certain days. Learning them will give you more ways to express yourself and will make your conversations more interesting.
And, if you want to learn more topically-curated Korean vocabulary, FluentU videos are just a subscription away. We make learning Korean more fun and effective by using authentic videos and embedding them with top-of-the-line transcriptions so each clip becomes a formidable resource for language insights and lessons. Don’t believe me? Sign up for a free trial and see for yourself.
To your health!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Korean with real-world videos.