Romantic Korean Phrases
Image adapted from: tvN/Netflix
Turn on your television these days and chances are, you will find a Korean drama being aired. Long gone are the days of seeing Singaporean actor Lee Nanxing say wo ai ni – we now instead find handsome Korean heartthrobs uttering saranghaeyo while staring deep into our souls. Cue intense inner squeals.
Whether you are an ardent fan waiting to profess your love to your bias (favourite member in a K-Pop group) or someone with a crush on an attractive Korean exchange student, the first obstacle you have to overcome is the language barrier.
To help you impress your oppa, we have curated a list of 15 romantic Korean phrases that are perfect for bringing your relationship with him to the next level.
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1. “I miss you” (Bogo sipeo)
Image credit: @_o9xo3
In Korean (Hangeul): 보고 싶어
How to pronounce: po-go ship-paw
The popularity of “po-go ship-paw”, or “I miss you”, is second only to “sa-rang-hae-yo”. Making its appearance in almost every Korean drama imaginable, it is also one of the first few phrases K-pop fans pick up when they first start learning the language. This phrase literally means “want to see” but depending on the context, it can also mean “I miss you”.
An important point to note is that Koreans generally refrain from using the pronoun “you” unless they are really close to the other person. They tend to use hierarchical kinship terms such as “oppa/eonni” (term for an elder brother or elder sister of a female), the person’s name or omit referring to the other party altogether.
2. “Thanks for always being by my side” (Hangsang yeope isseojwoseo gomawo)
Image credit: @_haeyiniii
In Korean (Hangeul): 항상 옆에 있어줘서 고마워
How to pronounce: hang-sang yaw-peh it-saw-chwaw-saw ko-ma-wo
In the 2019 hit series Hotel Del Luna, the male lead Ku Chan-seong is constantly by the female lead Jang Man-wol’s side, looking after her and keeping her company. So if you have a Ku Chan-seong by your side, you’ll want to look him in the eyes and say this phrase with the most aegyo (Korean for turning your charms on) you can channel.
2. “I feel assured with you around” (Oppaga isseoseo deundeunhae)
Image credit: @hyeyun_lee
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠가 있어서 든든해
How to pronounce: oppa-ga it-saw-saw tern-tern-hae
Korean men are expected to perform certain gender roles, and one of them is to take on the role of a calm and collected figure in a relationship. The adjective “tern-tern-hae” here actually refers to being reliable, but when you say you feel “tern-tern-hae” with oppa around, it means that you feel assured.
3. “You are totally my type” (Oppa wanjeon chwihyangjeogyeok)
Image credit: @myrin_mom
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠 완전 취향저격
How to pronounce: oppa wan-jawn chwi-hyang-chaw-gyeok
Like an arrow landing on its target, this phrase is used to describe a bull’s eye hit on someone’s preference checklist. If you have a crush on that new Korean exchange student in your class and he checks all the boxes, it is time to say this line to him. Who knows, you might have been a sharpshooter to him too. Woo hoo.
4. “You are the best” (Oppaga choegoya)
Image credit: @seonghee.p
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠가 최고야
How to pronounce: oppa-ga chweh-go-ya
“Chweh-go” can be used for a myriad of situations, such as when you want to cheer someone on, or to describe someone or something as being the best. Give oppa two thumbs up while telling him he is the best – that’s bound to make him the envy of his group.
5. “You look really great today” (Oneul jeongmal meosisseo)
Image credit: @leeseunggi.official
In Korean (Hangeul): 오늘 정말 멋있어
How to pronounce: oh-nerl chong-mal maw-sit-saw
We know that even the most handsome of oppas would not look stunning every single day. But for days when every strand of his hair is in place and his shirt, impeccably ironed, lavish him with this phrase to let him know how great he looks. You can use this phrase in conjunction with the previous phrase as well.
Example: “Oppa-ga chweh-go-ya! Oh-neul chong-mal maw-sit-saw!”
Translation: “Oppa you are the best! You look really good today!”
6. “You are so thoughtful” (Oppaneun senseuga neomchyeo)
Image credit: @gfar_52
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠는 센스가 넘쳐
How to pronounce: oppa-nern sen-se-ga nom-chyaw
This is an example of Konglish, which refers to a Korean way of using an English word. The literal translation of this phrase means “overflowing with sense”, but it actually means “you are so sensible/thoughtful”.
So “sense” in this context is used to refer to someone who does appropriate things at the right time. For example, if he remembers that you have to work overtime today and waits for you to knock off with your favourite food, then that’s plenty of “sense” right there.
7. “I think of you before I sleep” (Jagi jeone oppa saenggangna)
Image credit: @chae_mingk
In Korean (Hangeul): 자기 전에 오빠 생각나
How to pronounce: cha-gi chaw-neh oppa saeng-gang-na
If you have been thinking of that special someone the whole day and feel like you need to get it off your chest before you go to bed, give your oppa a call and tell him “cha-gi chaw-neh oppa saeng-gang-na”. We’re sure that both of you can then have a good night’s sleep thereafter.
8. “You are so sweet” (Wanjeon dajeongdagamhae)
Image credit: @09.08_s2
In Korean (Hangeul): 완전 다정다감해
How to pronounce: wan-jawn ta-jong-ta-gam-hae
You may be surprised to hear that this phrase actually translates to “full of feelings and emotions”, and is used to describe someone who is kind and sweet. Koreans do use the Konglish word “swee-teu-hae” to describe someone who is sweet, but throwing in “wan-jawn ta-jong-ta-gam-hae” means you’ll not only make your feelings known, but also impress oppa with your Korean abilities at the same time.
9. “I want to hear your voice” (Oppa moksori deutgo sipeo)
Image credit: @7i.hong
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠 목소리 듣고 싶어
How to pronounce: oppa mok-so-ri tert-go ship-paw
If we are lucky enough to have a special someone who sounds like Taehyung from BTS, we would want to listen to his voice every single day too. Say “oppa mok-so-ri tert-go-ship-paw” to him on days when you are sad and all you want is to hear a comforting voice tell you everything is going to be alright.
10. “Everything that you do touches me” (Oppaga haneun haengdongdeuri neomu gamdongiya)
Image credit: @yeojin9oo
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠가 하는 행동들이 너무 감동이야
How to pronounce: oppa-ga ha-nern haeng-dong-te-ri naw-mu kam-dong-yi-ya
This phrase borders on Korean drama territory but hey, there is nothing wrong with expressing affection. After all, we know how sweet nothings and affirmations can sometimes mean a lot. Your oppa will be glad to know that his actions have touched you.
11. “I like you” (Oppareul joahae)
Image credit: @j_miri____
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠를 좋아해
How to pronounce: oppa-rerl cho-ah-hae
A lot of us tend to beat around the bush when trying to express our feelings to the subject of our affections. The fear of rejection cripples us and we end up saying things that are totally irrelevant. But it’s time to change that. Stride up to him confidently and tell him this line. He might just be moved by your honesty and reveal his affections to you as well.
12. “I am happy because I am with you” (Opparang gachi isseoseo haengbokae)
Image credit: @roo__ming_98
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠랑 같이 있어서 행복해
How to pronounce: oppa-rang ga-chi it-saw-saw haeng-bok-hae
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of courtship – think constant text messages and sweet nothings that make your heart flutter. Try this if the both of you have been in an ambiguous phase for a long time and you want to drop him a hint to move on to the next stage – officially becoming a couple.
13. “I like the way you take care of me” (Oppaga nal chaenggyeojuneunge joa)
Image credit: @3.47g_
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠가 날 챙겨주는게 좋아
How to pronounce: oppa-ga nal chaeng-gyaw-chu-nern-geh cho-ah
This line is good for when you want to show your appreciation to a hardworking oppa who goes out of his way to take care of you, from bringing you a chocolate bar when you’re stressing over deadlines, to draping his jacket over you when you are feeling cold. We would kill for an oppa like that.
14. “I am thinking of you” (Oppa saenggakago isseo)
Image credit: @dlwlrma
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠 생각하고 있어
How to pronounce: oppa-rerl saeng-gak-ha-go-it-saw
Just like how Ku Chan-seong is always on Jang Man-wol’s mind in Hotel Del Luna, let him know that he is always on your mind with this line. But don’t tell him what kind of thoughts you’re having – let his imagination work its magic.
15. “I want to be with you for a long time” (Opparang oraeorae hamkke hagosipeo)
Image credit: @d.hyee_e
In Korean (Hangeul): 오빠랑 오래오래 함께 하고싶어
How to pronounce: oppa-rang oh-rae-oh-rae ham-kkeh ha-go-ship-paw
Nothing is forever except maybe for diamonds, gold and the cockroach species. Then again, every couple starting out will envision their relationship lasting till the end of time. Use this line to tell him that you are committed to being with him for a long, long time.
Bonus: “Would you like to come over for ramyeon?” (Ramyeon meokgo gallae)
Image credit: Brunch
In Korean (Hangeul): 라면 먹고 갈래?
How to pronounce: ra-myeon mok-go gal-lae
Originally a line from the 2001 hit movie One Fine Spring Day, this line was used by the female lead to invite the male lead over to her place after he drove her home. It resulted in the male lead spending a night over and has now established itself as the Korean way of saying “Netflix and chill”.
Acting out your K-drama fantasies
Unlike in Korean dramas, dating a Korean oppa takes more than just “sa-rang-hae-yo” and “po-go ship-paw”. Bring your courtship game up a notch with these 15 Korean romantic phrases – and a cheeky bonus – curated to impress even the most unmovable of oppas. As with all good stuff, use these phrases in moderation – or until we come up with part two of this series, at least.
Check out these articles before your next trip to Seoul.
- 15 Korean Phrases For Ordering Food At A Restaurant
- 16 Korean Phrases For Travelling And Getting Around Seoul
- 10 Spoil-Market Themed Cafes In Seoul
- 10 Mountains To Hike In Seoul & Other Parts Of South Korea
- 19 Things To Do In Seoul That You Never Thought Were Possible