Korean Drama Phrases – Top 28 Words & Expressions for K-Drama Fans

Hey, K-drama fans! We’re going to cover some of the most common Korean drama phrases, words, and expressions that are used in your favorite dramas in South Korea.

If your favorite K-drama lines or Korean drama scripts have multiple parts, we’ll break them down. Then, as you watch your favorite dramas, you’ll notice these Korean phrases appear. If you’re already an avid K-drama watcher, these Korean phrases might sound familiar! Once familiar with them, you’ll rely less on English or Korean subs when watching these. 

Korean Drama Phrases

You might have heard some of these phrases from popular Korean actors and actresses like Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin, Lee Min Ho, or Kim Go-Eun. You’ll also be saying these phrases in no time! So, let’s get to it, shall we?

To get you off to a good start as you learn Korean, we’ve also got a free PDF guide that you can download and take with you:

If you can’t read the Korean Alphabet yet (highly recommended!), there’s a free guide that will teach you in about one hour. You can get it here

Korean Drama Quotes and Phrases 

Certain Korean phrases appear in dramas more often than in other formats. If you don’t know native speakers to learn Korean with, watching dramas is a good way to practice. Also, a certified Korean drama addict will notice that certain slang words have become popularized by their use in drama and have since become a more common part of everyday Korean conversation.

For example, the word 미생 (misaeng | incomplete-life) was originally a term used in the Korean game 바둑 (baduk | Go)! Now it has become a popular word to describe the Korean office environment thanks to this famous K-drama (and 만화 | manhwa) of the same name.

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1. “Are you kidding me” in Korean

The Korean phrase 장난해? (jangnanhae)  could be a statement or a sarcastic question. This is often used among friends of the same age or with someone younger. This simply means, “Are you kidding” or “Are you kidding me?”

In K-dramas, you’ll never hear this being said to someone older or someone holding a higher position than the speaker unless the person means to be rude.

2. “By any chance” in Korean

This word is used at the beginning of a statement or a question where a person is having doubts about a particular thing. The word 혹시 (hoksi) means “by any chance” or “maybe.”

3. “Call” or “Deal” in Korean

This is one of the many words Koreans consider Konglish. This means “call” or “deal” and is used when you are up for the challenge or when you agree on something.

4. “Don’t lie” in Korean

This phrase is used when the person you are talking to seems to be lying. It came from 뻥을 치다 (ppeongeul chida), which means “tell a lie.” 지마 (jima) is from the polite phrase 지 마세요 (ji maseyo), which usually denotes “do not.”

5. “Don’t misunderstand” in Korean

Every K-drama fan will usually hear this phrase in romantic comedies or romantic K-dramas. A person says this when he or she wants to hide his or her true feelings or intentions. But this phrase can generally be used when you don’t want others to misunderstand or misinterpret you.

This phrase consists of two Korean words. The Korean word 오해 (ohae) means “misunderstanding.” The word 하지마 (hajima) from the polite phrase 하지 마세요 (haji maseyo) means “do not.” If you want to sound polite, then you may say 오해 하지 마세요 (ohae haji maseyo).

6. “Like this” in Korean

이렇게(ireoke) is a phrase that could be used to ask someone how to do something or instruct someone to perform something in a certain way depending on the context. This phrase means literally “like this,” although the nuance can be “What should I do?”

7. “Oh yeah” in Korean

This is an exclamation that can be used in many different situations. It is used when a person just got something he or she wants, won the jackpot, or when a person feels lucky.

8. “Sure, sure” in Korean

In K-dramas, we often hear this phrase when the character agrees with another character’s ideas and opinions. It means “sure” or “of course.” 

Sometimes, the word 그럼 (geureom) can be used at the beginning of a sentence that indicates a condition. It can be used to mean “if so..and then.”

9. “Wait for a while” in Korean

This is one Korean phrase that is usually used when you want another person to wait for you. It literally translates to “for a while” or “wait for a while.” You can add 요 (yo) to it to make it sound polite then that would be 잠깐만요 (jamkkanmanyo).

Another variation of this iconic phrase translating to “wait for a while” is 잠시만요 (jamsimanyo).

10. “Well, I don’t know” in Korean

This is one of the phrases we commonly hear in dramas when a character is being asked for an opinion, idea, or an answer, and he or she doesn’t know what answer to give or wants to have some time to think. This phrase can mean “I don’t know,” “Well,” or “Let me see.”

11. “What are you going to do” in Korean

어쩔 건데? (eojjeol geonde) means “What are you going to do?” Again, this phrase may only be used towards a person really close to you or someone of your age and to a person younger than you. It would sound rude and impolite when used to a stranger and to an older person.

12. “What are you looking at” in Korean

This question is usually used when a person is looking at you in a strange way.

In dramas, you would usually hear this question among characters who have the same age or are addressed to someone younger. More often than not, using 뭘 봐요 (mwol bwayo), although it has 요 (yo), could be disrespectful when used in the wrong tone. This means, “What are you looking at?” or “Why are you looking at me.”

13. “What are you talking about” in Korean

what do you mean? This question can be heard in dramas when the characters hear some strange sound, or they hear a sudden noise. 무슨 (museun) is another form of 뭐 (mwo) and 무엇 (mueot), which means “what.” The word 소리 (sori) means “saying” or “mean,” and 이게 (ige) means “this.”

So, when you hear a strange talk, and you want to know what it is, you may ask 무슨 소리야 이게 (museun soriya ige).

14. “How” in Korean

This is one of the common Korean phrases that characters suddenly blurt in Korean dramas when they don’t know how to do something. Sometimes, it is also used to express empathy for another person. Aside from an expression, you’ll also often hear it when someone asks using the question word “how.”

15. “Don’t do that” in Korean

The Korean phrase 하지마 (hajima) means “don’t do that.” It is heard in dramas and among K-Pop artists a lot, along with 가지마 (gajima), which means “don’t go.”  

The words 하지마 (hajima) and 가지마 (gajima) are often said in a pleading tone by whichever character is getting dumped in that particular episode. 

This Korean phrase consists of the verb 하다 (hada | to do) + 지마 (jima | command to not do something). 하다 (hada) + 지마 (jima) creates the phrase 하지마 (hajima), meaning “Don’t do that.” It is a shortened version of 하지 마세요 (haji maseyo).

16. “I said don’t do that” in Korean

If the other person doesn’t respond to the speaker’s “하지마” (hajima), then they will keep teasing the speaker. Then, the next line out of the speaker’s mouth is often “하지말라고” (hajimallago).

The 라고 (rago) ending is one of the many ways to use reported (indirect) speech in the Korean language (along with 다고 (dago), 자고 (jago), and 냐고 (nyago). Using these endings is a little bit tricky and requires some study, so just learn this phrase for now.

17. “It’s a lie” in Korean

Often part of the drama plot will involve somebody lying and eventually being found out. The word 거짓말 (geojinmal) means lie. 이야 (iya) is the standard informal ending for nouns.

18. “Don’t lie” in Korean

Combining the word “lie” with the Korean word for “don’t do,” which is 하지마 (hajima), results in the Korean phrase 거짓말 하지마 (geojinmal hajima). This is one of the popular Korean phrases you’ll hear quite often in Korean dramas.

19. “Do you want to die” in Korean

Often this is said in dramas when somebody is really annoying the speaker. The ending -을래(요) (eullae(yo) means “to want” and is often used as a question “do you want?”

In this phrase, it is added to the end of the verb 죽다 (jukda | to die). However, you can also use this ending in other situations, such as 뭐 먹을래요? (mwo meogeullaeyo | “What do you want to eat?”).

20. “I will leave first” in Korean

Often in K-Dramas, somebody will have to meet at a café with somebody they don’t like. Usually, this person is an evil mom trying to bribe her with money in an attempt to stop her from seeing her son.

If one person is leaving first, then in informal situations, he or she will sometimes say 나 먼저 가 (na meonjeo ga) or 나 먼저 갈게 (na meonjeo galge), both of which mean “I will leave first.”

Read about how to use this Korean phrase properly here.

21. “Really” in Korean

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In Korean dramas, when somebody finds out some exciting gossip, then he or she will almost certainly say one of these three Korean words.

All of these words mean “really?” in English. They are all used with about the same regularity as the next, so learn them all and use them to sound more natural. You might also hear them with a 요 (yo) at the end, such as,

22. “What in the world” in Korean

This drama phrase that every K-drama fan might be familiar with is used to express shock or disbelief. It is often used by the character playing the evil old man, who is surprised that he hasn’t been shown the proper respect by the main character (despite his repeated attempts to ruin said character’s life).

23. “It can’t be” in Korean

When used in normal Korean, 안 돼(요) (an dwae(yo)) means that something is not allowed.

For example, you could say 수영하면 안 돼요 (suyeonghamyeon an dwaeyo), which means “Swimming is not allowed.” However, in dramas, it is often said by the female character (speaking to herself while crying) just after being dumped. She is literally saying, “he is not allowed to leave me,” as she can’t believe that she got dumped.

24. “Apologize” in Korean


In dramas, people are constantly asking each other to apologize for trifling things. The other person then refuses to apologize for those things, leading to the two people ending the episode apart.

The verb “to apologize” is 사과하다 (sagwahada). The ending -세요 (seyo) in this context shows that you are asking somebody to do something. The fact that the word is a homonym for the Korean word for “apple” hasn’t been lost on the cheesy Korean drama scripts by scriptwriters who use this terrible pun on a regular basis (for example, in 꽃보다남자 (kkotbodanamja)).

Both of these phrases mean the same thing, but the second one is more polite. Adding -하세요 (haseyo) to certain Korean words will make them sound polite. 

25. “Are you crazy” in Korean

From the verb 미치다 (michida | to be crazy), this phrase is used on a regular basis in K-Dramas. As this is one of the ruder Korean drama phrases that you will hear, be careful using it in real life. This is an informal Korean word, so saying this during a conversation or in everyday life would be considered very rude. 

26. “Crazy guy” in Korean

This is one of the phrases that are often said under someone’s breath in K-Dramas. The phrase is made up of two Korean words. The first is 미친 (michin), which means “crazy.” The second is 놈 (nom), which means “person.”

Keep in mind that this is one of those phrases that has negative connotations. It can be used with other adjectives to make a similar Korean phrase, such as “나쁜놈” (nappeunnom) too.

27. “Older brother” in Korean

Watching dramas is a really great way to get the hang of Korean pronouns and their proper usage. Instead of the word “you,” Koreans use a variety of different words based on people’s position in society. The most common are:

한국어 (Korean)RomanizationEnglish Meaning
oppaa slightly older male who you are close to (used by females)
hyeonga slightly older male who you are close to (used by males)
nunaa slightly older female who you are close to (used by males)
eonnia slightly older female who you are close to (used by females)
imoa middle aged women (lit. – aunt) who you are slightly close to (for example the shopkeeper in a shop that you frequently visit)
ajummaa middle aged women (not as close to you as an 이모)
ajeossia middle aged man
seonbaea school friend from a year that is above you
hubaea school friend from a year that is below you

We also have a separate article that focuses on the terms “oppa,” “hyung,” “noona,” and “unnie.”

28. “Buy this for me” in Korean

This is one of the phrases that are often used by the whiny rich girl in K-Dramas, who is a love rival of the main female character. The word 줘 (jwo) comes from the verb 주다 (juda | to give) and is the informal way of saying 주세요 (juseyo). If you use this phrase, be sure to use your most whiny voice possible.

3d Hand Making Korean Heart Symbol With A Heart Floating On Top
Learn Korean with your favorite K-Drama!

There are other phrases that are commonly used in Korean Dramas, like 죄송해요 (joesonghaeyo | I’m sorry), 보고 싶어요 (bogo sipeo | I Miss you) and 랑해요 (saranghaeyo) | I love you).

Learning Korean drama phrases will help with your understanding of Korean dramas or even K-pop songs. You might be learning them by yourself or even with your K-drama-obsessed friends. As long as you keep at it, you’ll watch them subtitle-free in no time!

Where can I watch Korean dramas?

If you’ve come across this article but haven’t watched a single K-drama yet, we got you!

We have a separate article that lists several great K-dramas that you can watch and where to watch them. The bonus part is that these dramas are useful if you want to learn Korean.

How to say “episode” in Korean?

This is a word that you’ll often encounter, especially if you’re binge-watching Korean dramas. You can watch the video below to learn how to say “episode” in Korean.

How to say “EPISODE” in Korean (dramas, movies, and TV shows)

For more free videos like this, you can subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We upload new videos with great Korean content regularly.

Other resources for learning Korean

Do you know why learning Korean is fun? Apart from impressing your Korean friends, another reason is that you can watch Korean dramas and understand what’s going on without subtitles. And we’re going to help make that happen!

If you want to learn Korean further, go here for a full guide. It will help you with speaking Korean and becoming more familiar with the Korean language in general. We also have a structured online Korean course that will teach you how to have a 3-minute conversation in Korean in the first 90 days. 

We’ve also listed other useful resources below. These can help you improve your Korean vocabulary!

Wrap Up

If you keep learning K-drama phrases, not only will you know more about Korean culture, but soon, you’ll be watching popular dramas or other shows in South Korea without subtitles. Exciting, isn’t it?

As a K-drama fan, which of these Korean drama phrases is your favorite? Have you learned a bit about Korean culture too? Let us know in the comments below!

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236 thoughts on “Korean Drama Phrases – Top 28 Words & Expressions for K-Drama Fans”

    1. 뭘 is shorten of 뭐를. It is a combination of 뭐(=what) and object marker 를. You would use 뭐를 with verbs. e.g. 뭘 사요? What do you buy?
      뭐가 is a combination of 뭐(=what) and subject marker 가. You would use 뭐가 with adjectives. e.g. 뭐가 비싸요? What is expensive?

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