25 Simple Korean words for Christmas: 크리스마스 케빈이랑 보낸다고?

I created a list of 25 Christmas-themed vocabulary words in honor of December 25th – it’s already less than a week away and I’m not done with all my shopping! Before I finish Christmas prep, I wanted to share some fun words and culture tips for Christmastime in Korea. But first, a tiny snow-person to brighten your day:

You may have heard that Christmas Day in Korea is a notorious couple holiday. Few people seem to celebrate unless they have small children or are Christians, so there isn’t much of an uptick in traffic, shopping, or general business. Instead, couples are everywhere, in the bars, restaurants, and walking the streets to take cute pictures in front of decorations. I’ve even heard that many people date just for the holiday season, so that they have someone to do couple things with. You can read more about the Christmas experience from this amazing blog.

What if you’re not celebrating with family and you don’t have a date for the holidays? This is where the movie Home Alone comes in. Remember Kevin’s misadventures when he’s abandoned at home for the holidays and has to fend off thieves all by himself? If you’re home alone like him, with no date to kiss under the mistletoe, you can tell your nosy coworkers and classmates that you’re spending Christmas with Kevin. I’m not making this up.

Without further ado, some simple and wintry Christmas vocab! Note that a lot of words are just the Korean pronunciation of English.

  1. Merry Christmas 메리 크리스마스
  2. Christmas Day, Christmas Eve 크리스마스날, 크리스마스 이브 (전야, 전날)
  3. White Christmas 화이트 크리스마스
  4. Snow
  5. Snowflake 눈송이
  6. Snowball 눈덩이
  7. Snow fight 눈싸움
  8. Santa Claus 산타클로스 (some children call him 산타 할아버지 or Grandfather Santa as well)
  9. Gift 선물
  10. Snowperson 눈사람
  11. Christmas tree 크리스마스 트리
  12. Decorations and ornaments 크리스마스의 장식
  13. Christmas lights 크리스마스 등불, 전등 ( – emphasis on them being electric Christmas lights)
  14. Carols 크리스마스 캐럴
  15. Sledding 썰매타기, to go sledding 썰매를 지치다
  16. To go skiing 스키를 타다
  17. Snowboarding 스노보드 타기
  18. Mittens 벙어리 장갑 (not gloves, which are simply 장갑)
  19. Scarf 목도리 (to wear a scarf 목도리를 하다)
  20. Party  파티
  21. Tinsel 장식용 반짝이 조각 , 금은사
  22. A sprig of holly 호랑가시나무 가지
  23. Mistletoe 겨우살이
  24. Couple 커플 
  25. 크리스마스 케빈이랑 보낸다 I’m spending Christmas with Kevin (but basically I don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with so I’m home alone)  

I compiled these myself so this is my disclaimer on accuracy. If it’s wrong, please let me know! And if you want more Christmas-themed Korean, try out these:

그럼, 메리 크리스마스!

Korean Webtoon Rec: “A Dreaming Girl, A Dreaming Boy” by the Creator of Spirit Fingers

한경찰 작가님이 began a new webtoon, 꿈꾸는 소녀, 소년 at the end of October and has maintained both Spirit Fingers and her new webtoon to the awe of her many Korean readers. Usually the quality of one drops due to the workload, but 스핑 is going strong while her new webtoon is also a top contender, ranking fifth among series that are updated on Tuesdays.

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 4.14.38 PM.png

As always, all I want to do is rave about her artwork. This webtoon is beautiful (although I’ll always be biased toward Spirit Fingers) and it seems to be building a plot just as complex and interesting as 스핑. Currently it has only seven chapters out, so be warned if you’re the type that needs to wait until a series is finished to marathon through it; for now you’ll have to wait patiently for the update each Tuesday. But if you’re already following 스핑, it’s a great mid-week read to tide you over until you can find out what happened to that dear, amazing 우연이 (can you tell how much I want to be best friends with her).

This story involves four middle school students, each of them enduring personal struggles at home while attending school and trying to complete a group project that goes awry. One boy lives with his grandfather in poverty; another is cast down in his wealthy father’s shadow and fights to escape the life that his father wants him to live.

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 4.32.20 PM.png

Look at this. Look at this incredible art that speaks to the feelings of the boy trailing along in his father’s shadow, forced to play soccer to meet his father’s expectations. “I hate soccer…Dad…”

One of the girls constantly suffocates under her mother’s overbearing presence and intervention. The other girl, whose backstory isn’t yet revealed, tries to befriend one of the boys when she recognizes him from a soccer team they had played on several years prior, but she is angrily rebutted. Where will the story go now that they’re all fighting over the group project while dealing with inner turmoil?

It seems like there is potential for love interests to develop later on, but it’s hard to tell at this early stage. 한경찰 작가님이 does an incredible job of weaving many storylines into one plot as in 스핑, so romance or not, this is a webtoon to follow!

“Dreaming Boy, Girl” is my own translation of this new webtoon’s title, although it may pop up on translation sites as something else. As far as I know, there are not yet any English translations but I will update here if I learn of one. As always, please support the webtoon creator by reading on Naver if you can! And follow her Instagram @hedaa2002:


Online Korean news articles on 꿈꾸는 소녀, 소년:

읽어 주셔서 감사합니다!

지금 재생 중:

수란 is back and the world is blessed with her voice.

페북 추천: Learning Korean with Humans of Seoul

This is a bit of shameless self-promotion since I’m a translator for the Humans of Seoul page, but did you know that we also have a page dedicated to dissecting the Korean interviews and explaining intermediate-level Korean? You can find us at Learning Korean with Humans of Seoul. While I contribute, I also love reading the posts my fellows create there. There’s always something new to learn, no matter how much you already know!


Below the dissection, you can read the entire original interview in both Korean and English (not pictured here).

Continue reading

Now or Never


It’s now or never.

지금이 아니면 안된다.

– saying | 속담

Whatever that thing is that you keep waiting to do because you’re not sure you’ll succeed, or you’re afraid of what will happen if you fail – just do it. Apply for that study abroad. Start a new book in a foreign language even if you can barely read it. You want to get better at Korean? Nothing will change if you don’t take the first step. Do it! You got this!

Translation by yours truly. All mistakes are mine. 


Begin Anywhere

Begin anywhere.

아무데나 시작해라.

– John Cage 존 케이지

I’ve been gone for about a month in order to focus on the beginning of my last year in undergrad, but I’m back! New posts to come, beginning with this Friday.

Sometimes, it’s hard to know what to do when there’s a huge pile of things that need doing. Assignments, readings, papers, blog posts. Language study. Post-graduation life prep. Where do you start? Just start. Begin anywhere, and then you’ll figure out what to do next. 여러분 화이팅!

Translation by yours truly. All mistakes are mine.

4 Reasons To Read “Spirit Fingers” (Korean Webtoon) Right Now

Lately I’ve been really into a newer webtoon called Spirit Fingers (스피릿 핑거스) and unfortunately I finally caught up with all the currently released chapters, which means that I now have to wait a week between each new installment. While I wait, I thought I’d tell you about why you should check out this webtoon. As I’ve written before, webtoons and manhwa are a great way to practice Korean.


The art is fantastic.

I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to watching or reading things that are created not only to tell a story but also to please or provoke in a visual way, like anime, manga, manhwa, webtoons… These are art forms, and if I don’t like the style, I really won’t be able to enjoy the story. #snobstatus

Spirit Fingers has scenes that are so pretty that I just want to drool on my phone screen. I found this webtoon by accident, I judged it by its art style and decided to keep reading, and I was not disappointed. And not only is the art great, but art is the thing that brings the characters together in the first place!  

Continue reading

Naver Open Dictionary exists (& you should check it out)


If you’re like me and are constantly looking up one word or another and jotting down its meaning, you also probably have encountered words that you can’t find definitions for anywhere. Sometimes I switch between online dictionaries (my main is Naver and Daum is my backup) in order to find more uncommon or unknown words but there are other times where even a random Google doesn’t reveal any hints as to when the word is used or how.

What then? You could either ask a Korean person via Kakaotalk or Hellotalk or you can head over to Naver Open Dictionary. Open Dictionary is a tool by which anyone can submit an unknown word in pretty much any language and ask for people to give their own definitions. This is extraordinarily useful especially if the word or phrase is slang and/or it also needs cultural contextualization. Continue reading

결국엔: Simple Korean Poetry

I’ve been doing a terrible job of writing in Korean every day, but this cannot last.

I am a writer, and the need within me to write is stronger and stronger each day that I go without properly writing even a short poem, which is why I’ve started writing short poems here and there. They are on my phone’s note app, or in my little notebook I bought in Korea last summer, or written in my school notes.

They are almost all incredibly dramatic.

Make that “They are definitely all incredibly dramatic.”

Anyways, I thought I’d share one of the poems I’ve posted to Instagram directly here, and perhaps I’ll start sharing them here more regularly. I welcome comments!


Here’s the original Instagram post. And here is a quick, inaccurate translation:

In the End

The heart that loves you

Has become the heart that once loved you

The memories of you that hurt me

Are disappearing along with you

In the end we parted and

The wounds that I received from you

Are being healed by a different person.

Continue reading

Common Korean Drama Phrases Part II

Want to learn some of the most essential Korean phrases used in dramas and movies? If so, this is for you. I will present these phrases in informal language, or 반말.

This is Part II – you can find Part I here. Can’t read hangeul yet? Learn here!

멋있어 | meosisseo | you’re so cool

Continue reading

Common Korean Drama Phrases Part I

I’ve noticed that most of the searches that people enter on my site relate either to “easy reading in Korean” or “common Korean phrases,” so I’ve decided to do some posts precisely on those topics, starting with the most essential Korean phrases that come to mind. I will present these phrases in informal language, or 반말.

Let’s get down to it.

사랑해 | saranghae | I love you

Continue reading