Fail – when mistakes in Korean “bring tears to your eyes”

missInterpretation header made in Photoshop 11 by creator


Everybody makes mistakes. The point is that you’re supposed to learn from your mistakes. I’ve decided to start posting about mistakes that I make on my journey of learning Korean (and I’m learning Japanese, too!) in order to help myself not make them again – and to help others not make them in the first place.

Cue wise quote!

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. ”

― Eleanor Roosevelt

Today, while I was reviewing some TTMIK lessons and chatting with my language partner on KakaoTalk (we met on italki), we were talking about music and he brought up the fact that I like to dance all the time. And I do. I’m a terrible dancer but I love music and I love getting over a stressful day or celebrating a good one by blasting B1A4’s Beautiful Target, Daesung’s Wings, Big Bang’s Stupid Liar, Epik High’s Kill This Love…(oh yes, I could go on and on) and chooming my heart out.

춤추다 – to dance (chum-chu-da…wait, don’t you know how to read hangul already?)

T.O.P. will always be the #1 Choomer

My language partner teasingly said, “ㅋㅋ 또 춤추고있어요.” “Haha you’re dancing again.” (keke ddo chum-chu-go-i-sseo-yo.)

I told him, “항상 춤추고있어요 ㅋㅋ.” “I’m always dancing haha.” (hang-sang chum-chu-i-sseo-yo.)

He replied teasingly, “ㅎㅎㅎㅎ 정말 한번 보고 싶네요.” “Hehe I really want to see it just once.” (hehehehe cheong-mal han-beon bo-go sip-ne-yo.)

And then I made my mistake. “아니요~ 너무 너무 못 해요 ㅋㅋ 제 춤 정말 안습인데요~ ㅋㅋ” “Noo…I’m really, really bad haha. My dancing really brings tears to the eyes with how bad it is.” (a-ni-yo~ neomu neomu mot-hae-yo keke je chum cheong-mal an-seu-bin-de-yo~ keke.)

I can’t even master this kind of chooming

Technically, I didn’t speak incorrectly. I did make my partner laugh for about twenty minutes (all his ensuing messages had way too many ㅋㅋㅋㅋ’s and ㅎㅎㅎㅎ’s) by using an apparently outdated slang expression.

안습이다 basically translates to the Korean equivalent for the English term “fail.” It more literally means “to bring moisture or tears to my eyes.” Here’s a good and quite correct example of this word.

Seungri just brought moisture to his eyes by stabbing them with his sunglasses. 승리 안습이다~

The problem with this word is that it’s outdated now. A couple of years ago I might’ve sounded extremely “in-the-know” and cool, but using it now made me look…moisture-in-your-eyes worthy. The best(?) way to describe this is 안습이다, ironically enough. Unless you know the more current way to say “FAIL!” in Korean? Please let me know if you do!

Have you made any mistakes while learning Korean? Don’t worry about it; learn from it!

And choom on, my friend, choom on.



13 thoughts on “Fail – when mistakes in Korean “bring tears to your eyes”

    • Haha oops, I’ll be sure to get all of them next time! Hehe.
      Ah, I’ve done that too! I once spent a long time making this Photoshop text of 김치 using a picture of kimchi as the texture for the letters, finally finished it…and discovered that I’d created 기치. I had to insert this awkward, offset ㅁ ahaha.


  1. This post is just too great. I actually don’t know a word of Korean (found this post browsing the Reader for Mandarin posts), but I can definitely connect with language mishaps – just yesterday I told someone my soup recipe were my “breasts” (mīmī) rather than my “secret” (mìmi). Wow. Good job, Rene.
    I’ve fallen in love with Korea over the past few months, though it’s really been more through food than anything else. I’m new to blogging, so it’s exciting to find so many great language and culture blogs. Looking forward to exploring your site!


    • Wow, so are you learning Mandarin then? Or you already speak it? Thanks for the comment ^.^ I can’t even imagine trying to explain your way out of that language mishap…But it makes for a funny story haha.
      Korean food is delicious! I don’t get to eat it often, but when I do, I always try something new. I completely understand your love of it : )
      Thanks for checking out my site! Have fun with your food/culture/language exploring!


    • Yes, and yes. I spent my early years in Beijing, but I came to the States when I was 6. I’ve lost a lot of my Chinese since then – I’m almost illiterate and my speaking’s not exactly fantastic, either. I’m hoping that blogging my self-learning will keep me motivated, and it’s also introduced me to a great network of other self-learners. Best of luck with your language learning as well!


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  3. One of my friends once asked an Italian friend if his mother put some kind of preservative in her homemade marmelade to keep it from going bad – she only realised afterwards because of his reaction that “preservative” didn’t translate directly. He was mortified thinking that she was suggesting there were “condoms” in the marmelade 😀


    • Hahaha! That’s a good one 😀 Your friend must have been shocked that she’d accidentally said that. I can’t imagine how I’d respond if someone asked me a question like that…I’m glad it hasn’t happened to me, but it’s still really funny! Thanks for sharing!


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