Korean Sounds (Onomatopoeia) (한국어 의성어)

korean onomatopoeia

Korean Onomatopoeia

So we were out eating lunch on Saturday before we went to see “Grand Budapest Hotel”, and Hyo gave me the idea for this. First of all, I didn’t even know the correct term for these sounds and the word “onomatopoeia” is just a ridiculous word. You learn something new everyday.

As it turns out, Korean has a ton of these floating around in daily speech and I only knew a few of them before researching to make this graphic. It’s always interesting to see how different languages perceive sounds. Other English speakers like myself for the life of us can’t figure out how “멍멍” = dog barking, but there are other sounds like a duck quacking, or a door bell that sound the same.

Once again, if I forgot any, just remember it’s just not that easy to fit them all into one graphic in a simple easy to read format. I added the ones that Hyo and I use often, as well as some of my favorite ones. If you catch any mistakes that we missed, let us know!

Remember that romanization is only a tool! Try not to depend on it too much and try learning the Korean alphabet and how to pronounce the letters properly and you will have a much easier time learning.

Some great books to get your started are Korean Made Simple: A beginner's guide to learning the Korean language and Become a Hangeul Master: Learn to Read and Write Korean Characters

Check out our Dom & Hyo ebooks below.

You can also find more products at our store

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  • Diisha
    Jul 1,2016 at 7:14 am

    I am sooooo loving the graphics of your site…oh and the information too

  • Romina Varas Villalobos
    Sep 15,2014 at 5:06 pm

    I heard “jjaekkak” or something like that was the equivalent of tick tack too! (the sound of the clock)

    • Andrea
      Oct 3,2014 at 10:19 pm

      I think you’re right… In 너라고 by Super Junior they used 째깍째깍 to make the sound of a clock: tic toc tic toc.

  • Zhannat Bissen
    Aug 17,2014 at 7:01 am

    very interesting. I need to memo

  • Hailey Park
    May 2,2014 at 11:58 pm

    girl’s shouting “umma!!” (mom!!) kk

  • Michael
    Apr 25,2014 at 8:42 pm

    Don’t forget the Growl of a tiger or dong! “으르렁” (eu-reu-reong) and boiling water “부글부글” (bugeul-bugeul)

  • Apr 19,2014 at 4:52 pm

    I like the word “onomatopoeia” and that the Korean language has so many sounds is one of the reasons I like Korean. Some Korean words I hear and I just glory in the sounds. Like ‘babble’ 횡설수설. Or 포도 곳곳에 in the poem http://wp.me/p4oh6a-2k

    • Dominic 'Dom' Dinkins
      Apr 19,2014 at 5:32 pm

      Yes, it is awesome that the language has so many unique sounds. Hope all goes well with your studies of it. Thanks for the link to the poem!

  • Apr 18,2014 at 6:00 pm

    I didn’t know any of these except for the heartbeat sound 🙂 TY 🙂 35 new words

    • Dominic 'Dom' Dinkins
      Apr 21,2014 at 3:01 pm

      No problem 🙂

  • Rachel
    Apr 18,2014 at 2:48 pm

    Love this one. My favourite is definitely 멍멍, still searching for a dog that makes that sound

    • Dominic 'Dom' Dinkins
      Apr 18,2014 at 3:46 pm

      When you find one, let me know!

  • Michael Aronson
    Apr 17,2014 at 8:34 am

    More than the usefulness, I’m really impressed with your sense of design. Are you just building on your own skills every time (as opposed to using specific sources of inspiration or tutorials)?

    • Dominic 'Dom' Dinkins
      Apr 17,2014 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks. I will occasionally look at other infographics just because I’m interested in those things and like to keep my interest in them keen. But most of the time, it’s just me brooding over an idea for a few days, and putting ideas together as they come to me.

      Studying Graphic Design in college also helps :p

      • Michael Aronson
        Apr 17,2014 at 1:14 pm

        Aha, didn’t know you had a background in design. Still, each of these infographics seems more and more polished.

        • Dominic 'Dom' Dinkins
          Apr 17,2014 at 3:47 pm

          Thank you sir. That’s what I love about art of any kind. The creator can always look back and see how he/she has progressed from beginning the present.

  • Gemma Galgani Kim
    Apr 16,2014 at 1:49 pm

    No. 26 의성어 (an onomatopoeic word)
    쿨쿨 kool kool (○) // 끌끌 kkeul kkeul (×)

    No. 27 의태어 (an imitative word)
    주륵 주륵 jooreuk jooreuk (○) // 추록추록 choorok choorok (×)

    No. 28 의태어 (an imitative word)
    반짝 반짝 banjjak banjjak (○) : basic type
    빤짝 빤짝 bbanjjak bbanjjak (○) more strong type

  • Pat
    Apr 16,2014 at 12:53 pm

    Nice. However it was a bit difficult to read the meaning of 앗. White words on a yellow background and all ㅜ ㅜ

    • Dominic 'Dom' Dinkins
      Apr 16,2014 at 12:54 pm

      Thanks I will correct that 😉

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