36 Ways to Express Emotions in Korean | OptiLingo (2023)

How to Express Your Emotions in Korean

Life is full of emotions. And expressing them can help you communicate your situation or desire. It’s important to learn how to express emotions in Korean. After all, most conversations involve talking about how you feel at some point. Right? Not only will knowing how to express yourself help you reach fluency faster, but you’ll form better friendships and connections with people as you learn. Here’s what you need to know if you want to express your feelings in Korean.

Do Koreans Refrain From Expressing Emotions?

While Korean has both formal and informal speech, it’s difficult to define Korean words for feelings and emotions as either formal or informal. For example, you’ll use some words in formal situations more frequently than informal ones. That’s life.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those words are truly formal. You can use these words in a poetic or casual way as well. Ignoring these confusing, but important rules can cause your Korean speech to be unnatural. So, don’t fight it. Instead, keep these rules in mind as you move forward is a smart idea.

Grammar and Expressing Emotions in Korean

Before we dive into the vocabulary, it’s important to take a look at how you build these Korea phrases. It may surprise you, but there are no adjectives in Korean. Happy, sad, nervous, bored, these are all adjectives in English. They’re words that describe nouns. So, how do we express emotions in Korean without them? Let’s take a look at how Korean grammar handles emotions.

In Korean, you have descriptive verbs instead of adjectives. This means that you need to conjugate a verb to communicate a description. You’ll see in the vocabulary list below, that the English equivalent of Korean phrases is a conjugated version of “I am”. Be mindful of this when you’re expressing your emotions and feelings in Korean.

36 Ways to Express Emotions in Korean | OptiLingo (1)

How to Express Positive Emotions in Korean

기분 [gibun] – Feeling / Mood

기분 means ‘mood’ or ‘feeling’ what you feel, as in your emotions. Sometimes, it’s natural to translate 기분 as ‘emotion’. Since 기분 is a noun, ‘I feel great’ becomes ‘my feeling is great’ when you translate English to Korean.

(Video) Let's learn korean.How to express emotions in Korean.

Native Koreans don’t use a first-person possessive ‘my’ when they use 기분.

This Korean word is very essential because ‘나는 행복해요 (I’m happy)’ is a very uncommon phrase. Native Koreans would say ‘기분이 좋다 (feeling is good)’ instead.

행복하다 [henbokada] – To be happy

행복하다 is ‘happy in Korean’. This phrase is crucial. Not because it’s essential, but because it’s rarely used in Korean conversation.

행복하다 is a very serious and poetic word. If someone asks if you are happy in Korean, then it translates into something like ‘are you happy and satisfied with your life?’. It’s never used in reference to small things like ‘I’m happy for you’. Even though 행복하다 has the same meaning as ‘happy’. The usage is completely different.

Also, if you simply want to say ‘I’m happy today’ then say ‘기분이 좋아요 (I feel good)’ instead.

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(Video) Feelings and Emotions In Korean | Korean Vocabulary Exercise

좋아해요 [joahaeyo] – To like

You would use word joahaeyo in Korean as a general term meaning love, I like you, I love you.

재미있다 [jemi:itdda] – To be fun

재미있다 is an informal Korean word for ‘to be fun’. Native Koreans often use it as ‘to be funny’ also. It’s the most common Korean word that is used to describe when a person or thing is fun or funny. Even though it’s a formal Korean word, it’s not uncommon to use this word informal conversation as well.

To say ‘I had a great day’ or ‘I spent a great day’ in Korean, using 재미있다 most naturally translates to ‘‘오늘 재밌었어요 (it was fun today)’ especially in casual conversations.

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If you pronounce 재미있다 fast, then it sounds ‘재밌다’. 재밌다 is an abbreviation of 재미있다.

36 Ways to Express Emotions in Korean | OptiLingo (3)

More Positive Korean Words to Express Emotions


Romanized Korean




(I’m) happy.

사랑에 빠졌어요.

Sarang-e bbajyeosseoyo.

(I’m) in love.

살아있음을 느껴요.

Sara-isseumeul neukkyeoyo.

(I) feel alive.

기대 되요.

Gidae dwoeyo.

(I’m) excited.



(I’m) amazed.



(I’m) content.

균형 잡힌 느낌이에요.

Gyunhyeong jabhin neukkimieyo.

(I) feel balanced.



(you are / this is) silly



(I am) proud



(I am) energetic



(I am) lively

36 Ways to Express Emotions in Korean | OptiLingo (4)

How to Communicate Negative Emotions in Korean

슬프다 [seulpeuda] – To be sad

슬프다 means ‘to be sad’ in Korean. 슬프다 describes an extremely sad mood, like the idea that you are on the verge of tears. Native Koreans avoid using 슬프다 when they talk about their emotions in conversations.

Instead, it is acceptable to use, ‘기분이 안좋다 (I feel not good)’ or ‘우울하다 (to be depressed)’.

Although Koreans may not use, 슬프다 when talking about personal emotion, it’s perfectly acceptable to describe a movie or a story like ‘이 영화 진짜 슬퍼요 (this movie is really sad’).

우울하다 [u:ulhada] – To be depressed / Blue / Down

우울하다 is a formal Korean word that means ‘to be depressed’. While this is a formal Korean word, people often use it mostly in casual conversations.

우울하다 is the most common expression for ‘being blue’, ‘being down’ or ‘being depressed’ or ‘being sad’. You can also say ‘기분이 안좋다 (I don’t feel good)’ for ‘being down’.

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화나다 [hwanada] – To be angry / Upset / Mad

화나다 is ‘to be angry’ in English. The funny thing is that 화나다 is not an adjective. It’s an action that describes when you become angry. There is also a big difference between English and Korean use. Since it’s an action, even if you write it in the past tense, it always means ‘you are angry’ right now, not ‘I was angry’.

짜증나다 [jjajeungnada] – To be annoyed / Irritated / Frustrated

짜증나다 is a unique Korean word that English doesn’t have. The translation is subject to change based on context, but it generally means ‘to be annoyed/irritated’, or ‘to be frustrated’.

짜증나다 also describes ‘something that keeps bothering you, so you are upset’. Koreans often use it as an exclamation such as ‘oh come on!’, ‘for god sake!’.

Additionally, 짜증나다 is an action just like 화나다, so the past tense form 짜증났다 describes the present status. When you say, ‘something or someone is 짜증나다’. The meaning then becomes ‘to be annoying’ or ‘to be frustrating’.

긴장하다 [ginjanghada] – To be nervous / To be tensed

To be nervous/tensed is an easy phrase. 긴장하다 means ‘to be nervous’ in Korean, and it’s very similar to ‘to be nervous’ or ‘to be tensed’ in English.

심심하다 [simsimhada] – To be bored

심심하다 is an informal Korean word that describes a state of ‘being bored’. Unlike other Korean words that describe moods, it’s acceptable and natural to use this word only in casual conversations.

However, this usage is limited to describing an emotion, not describing if a game or movie is boring. You also cannot use it as a verb. Therefore, you can’t use it to say, ‘something bores someone’.

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The Korean word for frustration is Aigoo. Think of Aigoo as the Korean equivalent of “aw man!” or “geez”.

36 Ways to Express Emotions in Korean | OptiLingo (5)

More Words for Negative Emotions in Korean


Romanized Korean




(I’m) tired.



(I’m) angry.



(I’m) jealous.



(I’m) worried.

몹시 화가나요.

Mobshi hwaga-nayo.

(I’m) furious.



(I’m) embarrassed.

긴장이 되요.

Ginjang-i dwoeyo.

(I’m) nervous.



(I’m) frightened.



(I’m) busy.



(I’m) sad.

좀 바빠요.

Jom bappayo.

(I’m) in a hurry.



(I’m) exhausted



(I’m) unsatisfied



(I’m) frightened.



(I’m) disappointed

How to Learn Korean Faster!

Now you have 36 different ways you can show your feelings and emotions in Korean. But, of course, this language is much more than just this lesson. If you want to reach complete Korean fluency fast, then you need a reliable language learning method. Luckily, the OptiLingo offers everything you need to express all your emotions in Korean.

OptiLingo is a language learning app that actually works. By showing you high-frequency phrases, this language learning program can teach you exactly how the locals speak. And you’re guaranteed to remember all your lessons. Discover how effective this method is for you when you try OptiLingo today!


36 Ways to Express Emotions in Korean | OptiLingo? ›

Saying “슬퍼요. (Seulpeoyo.)” or “I'm sad.” is the most common expression Koreans use to express an extremely sad mood. You can also hear them say “아이구 (Aigoo) when comforting someone, but this expression can be used in different ways.

How do Koreans express sadness? ›

Saying “슬퍼요. (Seulpeoyo.)” or “I'm sad.” is the most common expression Koreans use to express an extremely sad mood. You can also hear them say “아이구 (Aigoo) when comforting someone, but this expression can be used in different ways.

How do you express an angry Korean? ›

(aissi!) “To express anger or frustration”

How do Koreans express happiness? ›

To say “happiness” in Korean, you can say 행복(haengbok) or 기쁨 (gippeum).

How to show excitement in Korean? ›

헐 (heol) The commonly used exclamation, 헐 (heol), expresses surprise, shock, or even amazement.

How do you text crying in Korean? ›

ㅠㅠ/ㅜㅜ (crying eyes). Another emoticon that comes from using the vowel ㅠ or ㅜ. You will need the Korean keyboard for this emoticon, which resembles a pair of horizontal straight lined eyes, closed shut. The vertical lines coming down mimic tears streaming out of the eyes.

How do Koreans express love? ›

Holding hands, giving a peck, or even a kiss is a usual sight. In many ways, the level of PDA acceptable in South Korea may surprise you. Korean couples are eager to express their affection toward each other in public than people in Europe or even American cultures.

What are some examples of rude behavior in Korea? ›

If it's considered rude in your country, it's probably considered rude in Korea. Things such as spitting, shouting, hitting people, swearing, and generally being obnoxious are definitely rude in Korea.

How do Koreans show their respect? ›

Bowing and handshakes

Koreans bow to those senior to them both as a greeting and a show of respect. The junior person initiates the bow, bending from the waist to an angle of between 30 and 45 degrees from vertical. A less accentuated bow is returned as acknowledgment from the more senior person.

What is Korean slang for annoying? ›

짜증나는 {adj.}

What is cute behavior in Korean? ›

The Korean word 애교 (aegyo ) literally means “behaving cutely.” This can be compared to the English term “cuteness.”

What is considered most respectful in Korea? ›

Respect should always be shown to those that are older than you. This involves deferring to their opinion, waiting for their input and lowering your gaze if they are an elder. Objects, gifts and food should be offered and received with two hands.

How to get someone's attention in Korean? ›

실례합니다 (sillyehamnida)

This word is used when trying to get somebody's attention and is very polite and formal.

What do Koreans say when annoyed? ›

The phrase “짜증나다 (Jjajeungnada)” is a unique Korean word that English doesn't have. It is used to express the feeling of being annoyed and irritated by someone. The word/ expression “Ya 야” is the most common Korean word or expression that you might hear when they are annoyed.

What does assa mean in Korean? ›

아싸 • (assa) (colloquial) yeah!, awesome!

What do Koreans say when frustrated? ›

The Korean word for frustration is Aigoo. Think of Aigoo as the Korean equivalent of “aw man!” or “geez”.

What does KKKK mean in Korean? ›

The Korean consonant ㅋ meaning “k” which has the same sound as the laughing “ha.” When used online, both “hhh” (ㅎㅎㅎ) and “kkk” (ㅋㅋㅋ) represent laughter.

How to shush someone in Korean? ›

(sikkeureowo) which translates to “be quiet” in Korean. The word comes from the verb 시끄럽다 (sikkeureopda), which means “to be noisy”, so the literal meaning of the word is to exclaim that something or someone is being noisy.

How do Koreans flirt? ›

Flirting in Korean culture is pretty much like what you see in Korean dramas. They use romantic, sweet, and cute phrases to touch the heart of the person they like. Aside from romantic phrases, they also flirt by acting cute, called aegyo (애교).

Do Koreans confess their love? ›

For Koreans, confessing their love to a crush is deemed a crucial step for a romantic relationship to begin. Only when one party makes the confession, the so-called “some” stage ends and the two become a couple.

What is the sad Korean letter? ›

Sad Korean Emoticons
Sad Korean EmoticonExplanation
ㅠ_ㅠcrying face (with straight mouth)
T.Tvaration of sad eyes with tears
Y.Yvariation of sad eyes with tears
;_;small eyes with tears
7 more rows
Apr 3, 2023

How do you express disappointment in Korean? ›

실망하다. disappointed means "실망했다." 나 너한테 실망했다.

How do South Koreans mourn? ›

Koreans generally believe in expressing emotions outwardly after a death, which includes wailing as a form of announcing the death of a loved one. This show of emotions is known as kok and can take place at the time of death and will likely also take place during the burial or interment.

What is heartbroken in Korean? ›

Korean Translation. 상심 한 sangsim han.

Is Saekki a bad word? ›

새끼 (sae-kki, --): A noun used to derogatorily refer to any general person. The word, when not used as a profanity, is used to describe a young of an animal. Note it can also be used affectionately too. 개새끼 (gae-sae-kki, ---): Equivalent to the English phrase "son of a bitch".

What is 18 in Korean bad word with meaning? ›

Direct translation: Ship-pal / 십팔

Unfortunately, if you say this number with even the slightest error in pronunciation, it sounds an awful lot like the F word in Korean (shi-bal / 씨발). It is actually so similar even amongst Koreans, that '18' is often used as slang on chat rooms and video games to replace the F word.

What is jugeullae in Korean? ›

Meaning “Do you want to die?”, jugeullae is often used between K-drama couples having a fight, or when one protagonist is play-threatening the other. It is often used in scenes that are portrayed as playful and slightly juvenile.

How do Korean people apologize? ›

Standard “I'm Sorry” in Korean

The first word is 죄송해요 (joesonghaeyo). But keep in mind that when saying sorry, like saying thank you, people often use a level of politeness higher than they would normally. Therefore, often it is better to say 죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida) rather than 죄송해요 (joesonghaeyo).

How do you apologize deeply in Korean? ›

How do you apologize in Korean? Well, there are two main ways to say “I'm sorry” in Korean: 죄송합니다, joesonghamnida, and 미안해요, mianhaeyo.

What color is Korea for mourning? ›

Whether the body is cremated or buried, mourners also wear special funeral clothes. They often dress in black, and men sometimes wear a hemp armband.

Do Koreans believe in afterlife? ›

Although Korea has developed into a multireligious society, Buddhism has largely influenced Korean culture since ancient time (Shin, Cho, & Kim, 2005). In Buddhism, birth, aging, illness, and death are essential parts of life and it is believed that there is life after death (Yeun, 2005).

What is the Colour of mourning in Korea? ›

You can feel comfortable wearing black formal clothing to a Korean funeral. You will see family members wearing black. Holding to the traditional custom family members wear hangbok.

What is hae yo in Korean? ›

해요 (haeyo): (non-honorific) "does" 하세요 (haseyo): (honorific) "does"

What is mental breakdown slang in Korean? ›

멘붕 (menbung)– Mental breakdown

You can express this idea with “멘붕”, which is a combo of 멘탈 (mental | mental) + 붕괴 (bunggoe | deconstruction or collapse). In Korean, this is more often used to express yourself when your mental status is on the fritz!


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