The Loan Words

Photo by Alina Vilchenko from Pexels

It is said that recently the Oxford English Dictionary has included 26 new loan words from South Korea. Some of these are quite interesting.

kimchi: a Korean dish of spicy pickled cabbage. It is said this word is recorded in this dictionary in 1976. I am really astonished since in 1976, not many English speaking people knew about kimchi and the Korean Wave was still decades away.

bulgogi: a Korean dish of thin beef slices marinated and grilled on a barbecue. This dish is very popular in Korean restaurants in America. It’s almost a symbol of Korean food, just like kimchi. I feel that my mouth is watering just to think of the bulgogi I ate with Korean bean sauce wrapped in lettuce. I don’t eat so much meat any more and haven’t eaten this for at least 10 years.

kimbap: seaweed wrapped rice, which is similar to Japanese onigiri. They are delicious, but unfortunately they have to be eaten when freshly made. This tastes so much better than sushi–my opinion. And there are all kinds of fillings in it. It’s kind of a huge dumpling made with rice instead of flour.

hallyu: Korean Wave. The Korean Wave almost killed me. I almost died of physical exhaustion ten years ago when watching “Dae Jang Geum”, which has fifty-four 60-minute long episodes. It’s about an orphaned girl who grew up to be a chef in the Korean royal court around the beginning of the 16th century. She later became the royal physician. I love all of the episodes and spent a week to binge watch the show. I only took one shower during the week and felt disgusted by myself in the end.

manhwa: Korean comics. This is similar to Japanese manga, but with a Korean flavor.

mukbang: (especially in South Korea) a video, especially one that is live-streamed, that features a person eating a large quantity of food and addressing the audience. I once watched a mukbang kind of show with a girl eating a whole table of food including a dozen crab, a dozen lobster, numerous dumplings, and noodles etc. It’s really crazy.

Konglish: Korean English. It seems every country has its own version of English. Singapore has Singlish; Malaysia has Manglish; Hong Kong has Hong Kong English; India has Indian English; China has Chinglish.

skinship: The feelings of relatedness and affection between two people, particularly a mother and a child, caused by hugging, touching, and other forms of physical contact. This word combines skin with kinship.

aegyo: a cute display of affection often expressed through a cute voice, facial expressions, or gestures. It’s very similar to the Japanese word kawaii.

chimaek: Chimaek is a pairing of fried chicken and beer, served in evening hours in many South Korean restaurants. This word is a mixture of “chicken” with “maekju”, which is a kind of Korean beer.

39 thoughts on “The Loan Words

  1. I love Korean culture so these words were familiar to me and I LOVED “Dae Jang Geum.” It was the first Korean show I watched with my family and we all enjoyed it so much. My mum was just saying the other day that she wants to watch it again.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Me too. I think there are “Henry VIII”, “The Romanoffs”, and “Medici”, “Borgias” on Netflix and Hulu, but I don’t know if they are good. I watched “Marco Polo” on Netflix, but couldn’t finish the first episode.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Oh, really? I will try to watch it. I read a book about her when I was in high school. I didn’t like the book very much, but some of the description of Russian life was quite vivid. Wish there were more of the interesting bit.


  2. Reading the top 3 items on your list made my stomach grumble with hunger. Korean flavors are unmatched. my tastebuds were so deprived before I was introduce to Korean food a few years ago. Now I cannot live without kimchi and ssamjang,.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha. Thank you for sharing your experience. I googled ssamjang and realized it is a sauce I used to like, but now due to my stomach problem, I opt for a non-spicy version of it. Yes, I love the fermented sauce made of tofu. They are my favorite. Just throw some tofu cubes in it and a dish is cooked in no time.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Hahaha. Yes, an easy recipe is the best. I love it. Tofu will have water coming out when microwaved. So I cut them into little cubes, put them on a curvy plate, microwave for 3 to 4 minutes to let the water out. After that I’ll mix the sauce in and microwave for another 2 to 3 minutes.


    1. Thank you for point that out. You just remind me that I forgot to include K-drama, which means Korean drama. I know that some people are so obsessed with K-drama that they have to buy a new TV at home. If not, there will be endless fighting in the living room.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite true. When I was a lot younger the only Korean words I knew were taekwondo and anything else related to that. I even remembered going to university in China back 2002 and lots people of used make fun of Koreans. Now they are forced to be reckoned with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true. So many people are influenced by the Korean Wave. LOL. I can’t even remember when it all started. It’s here. Most of my friends are affected, except just one, who is still stuck with everything Japanese and refuses to acknowledge the Korean newcomer.

      Liked by 2 people

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