medical korean

Korean Vocabulary for Medical Situations

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!

Sick of Not Knowing Korean? 50+ Medical Korean Words & Phrases to Make You Feel Better

Boo-boos and Illnesses

medical korean

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

(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

(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

medical korean

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.

(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!

medical korean

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

The Checkup

medical korean

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

medical korean

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: _____ 있어요. (_____-ee i-ssuh-yo.) — I have _____.

Simply plug in the things that ail you: 설사 (diarrhea), 알레르기 (allergy), 천식 (asthma), etc.

For example:

천식이 있어요. (Cheon-shik-ee i-ssuh-yo.) — I have asthma.

Then, smile. Everything’s going to be alright!

4 Korean Medical Dramas to Cure That Itch

Let’s talk about how you might practice what you’ve learned 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.

If you just want to check out quick clips involving the relevant words you want to study, then consider using FluentU.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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If you’re ready to binge a whole show, however, here are four of the many Korean dramas you might want to check out!

“Hospital Playlist”

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.

“Good Doctor”

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.

“Hospital Ship”

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.

“Doctor Stranger”

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?!


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.

To your health!

And One More Thing...

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