K Drama terms – Confusing aspects

Updated: Nov 1, 2020

As soon as you get hooked to the world of K dramas, you wish you could learn the language. Well, let's admit, keeping up with the subtitles can be pretty tough on the eyes, especially when you get used to watching 3-4 hours in a stretch. 1 year in, now I can understand a bunch of common terms and phrases. Though reaching a level where I won't need the subtitles seems to be wayyy down the road.

I am listing down here few words and phrases which are confusing if you are just starting out.


Now this is is the most confusing korean word. I have checked on multiple learning platforms just to confirm its usage.  So it is used by a female person to address her older brother. Sounds straightforward right? Here's the catch. It can also be used by a female person to address her boyfriend or husband!!

Say Whaaat??

It may cause misunderstanding and which is exactly what happens in an episode of '1 % of Something', wherein Lee Jae-in 's (Ha Seok Jin) real younger sister calls him Oppa while they were strolling in a mall, within earshot of Kim Da Hyun's friend, and she scorns and thinks that Jae-in started dating someone way younger than him! 

Titles – Daetongnyeongnim, Sunbaenim, Sajangnim, Byonhosanim etc

In Korea, no one addresses their seniors or bosses by name. They are called by their titles suffixed with nim. For example, the most common Daetongnyeongnim which means President or CEO. 

Sunbaenim is used for one's senior, in work hierarchy or in school/college. Hoobae is used for juniors. Sajangnim is also CEO of a company.

Talking about oneself in third person 

Very often, people refer to themselves with the address with which the other person in conversation would address them.

Like, if you are talking to your son in English, you would say something like 'I will come late today' , but in Korea(what I have seen in K dramas), the mom would say 'Omma' will come late today.  This may sound confusing at times.

The M sound is interchangeable with B sound and G sound is interchangeable with K

Korean pronunciation is tough and confusing. 

The word for sorry, which sounds in Dramas like 'Biyaneh' or Biyan is actually spelt like 'Miyaneh' 미안 in Hangul. Another example, is Kamsahamnida or Gomapsumnida (감사합니다). The starting sound seems to be a'Kh' sound sometimes, and a 'G' sound the othertimes! Very confusing!

As of now, only these come to my mind, I will add more as my journey with K dramas continues..

#oppa#Park seo joon# Secretary Kim#감사합니다#미안