Korean Onomatopoeia – 한국어 의성어

Hello everyone! How has your week been?

I chanced upon this info graphic on Korean onomatopoeia over at Dom & Hyo, and I found it really interesting, so I decided to I pick some words and phrases from the list to share with all of you!

This blog post is inspired by THIS BLOG POST from Dom & Hyo

The first word I would like to introduce is: ‘쉿’, meaning ‘shh’.

ttmik blog post onomatopoeia

The picture above was taken at Bukchon Hanok Village, where this friendly 할머니 was sitting down holding the sign telling visitors to be quiet, so as to not disturb the residents living in the area.

The next phrase is ‘두근두근’ [du-geun-du-geun], which sounds like a beating heart.
In Girls’ Generation’s song ‘Gee’, there is a line that says ‘두근두근거려 밤에 잠도 못 이루죠’. The line basically means that (her) beating heart results in (her) being unable to sleep at night.

Another phrase that I am going to introduce is also in the lyrics of ‘Gee’ – ‘반짝반짝’ [ban-jjak-ban-jjak], which is the sound of something that is shining or sparkling.

Girls’ Generation sings in the first line of the chorus ‘너무 반짝반짝 눈이 부셔’, which means that the person they are referring to shines so brightly that their eyes are blinded.

Next, we have ‘주룩주룩’ [ju-ruk-ju-ruk], which is the sound of falling rain. However, the phrase can also be used to represent the sound of tears falling, just as how girl group AOA sings in their song ‘Confused’, ‘눈물이 주룩주룩’.

Also, there is a phrase for the sound of a vehicle horning – ‘빵빵’ [ppang-ppang]. There is another variation of this sound, as BTOB sings in their song ‘Beep Beep’ – ‘뛰뛰빵빵’ [ddwi-ddwi ppang-ppang].

The next phrase that I am going to introduce may be familiar to those of you who watch Korean variety shows frequently. In variety shows such as ‘Infinite Challenge’ (무한도전), there are often quizzes or games that the regular members and guests participate in, and if they get the answer wrong, the person who hosts the game will normally say ‘땡’ [ttaeng] while hitting a gong.

The word ‘땡’ is the sound much like ‘clang clang’, or the sound of hitting something. It can be repeated for emphasis, like ‘땡땡땡’ as often heard in variety shows, to really emphasize that the person got the question wrong.

Moving away from K-pop and Korean television shows, we have ‘냠냠’ [nyam-nyam], the sound of chewing on food. For people who are familiar with the English onomatopoeia ‘nom nom’, ‘냠냠’ can be used in a similar way.

Lastly, I want to introduce a phrase that was not mentioned in the original info graphic, ‘따르릉’ [tta-reu-reung]. It is the sound of a telephone ringing, as seen in the video below.

For other Korean onomatopoeia that was not covered in this post, do go check it out HERE!

Does your language have any interesting onomatopoeia? Leave a comment below and tell us!


This blog post is written by our new intern, Clarisse.
If you liked the post, let her know by leaving a comment!  

Korean Onomatopoeia – 한국어 의성어
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  • Ana


    Some of the onomatopoeic words in my mothers tongue, i.e. Persian, are:

    아야 : اوخ ، آاخ /ookh/ /aakh/
    두근두근 : دوپ دوپ /doop doop/
    멍멍 : هاپ هاپ /haap haap/
    야옹 : میاوو /miaw/
    음매 : ماااا /maa/ (cow)
    음매 : بع بع /ba’ ba’/ (sheep,goat)
    개굴개굴 : قور قور /ghoor ghoor/
    꼬끼오 : قوقولی قوقو /ghooghooli ghooghoo/
    삐약삐약 : جیک جیک /jikjik/
    똑똑똑: تق تق تق /tagh tagh tagh/

    Thanks for this awesome lesson!!

    • Seokjin Jin

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂 꼬끼오 part is quite interesting! Thanks for the info.

  • disqus_hguQHcGQIt

    woah! it’s really interesting! thank you ^^

    • Seokjin Jin

      Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂

  • Dominic ‘Dom’ Dinkins

    Hey guys just saw this post. Thanks for using our post as inspiration for this. Love it 🙂

  • Negin

    Hi, very nice, I am an Iranian and I am now 14 years old, many nice sites thanks

  • Manuth Chek

    우와, 제 첫 언어로도 (크메로어) ញ៉ាំ [nham] 라는 단어가 “먹다”는 뜻인지 하나도 몰라요!

  • Huba_Huba

    Also 치카치카 is the sound of brushing your teeth. I found that out when I read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to my kids.