They say laughter is contagious! Who doesn’t love a good laugh? Whether you’re watching your favorite comedy show, or hanging around your friends who have a knack for perfect timing with their jokes, laughter can change your mood instantly.
Like all other languages, the Korean language has many ways to express laughter. The most popular being ‘ㅋㅋㅋ’. You’ve probably seen ‘ㅋㅋㅋ’ in a lot of places, especially as captions on TV shows in Korea. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been in Korea for so long, but using ‘ㅋㅋㅋ’ feels almost more natural than ‘lol’ for me now.
This is the most common way to express laughter in Korean. Pronounced as “크크크” (keu-keu-keu), the more “ㅋs” used, the funnier something is. This one would be the equivalent of ‘lol’ in English (or the most popular way to express laughter in your own native language) and you can write it differently to change the effect.
For example in English, ‘lol’ is like a casual laugh. Something that’s slightly funny, but not enough to make you burst out in laughter. It can also be used as a filler word through text messaging to keep the conversation light, friendly, and casual (think about how many times you write this and you don’t actually ‘laugh out loud’). However, ‘LOL’ with all caps means something is really funny right?
For ‘ㅋㅋㅋ’, it’s the same. Something just slightly funny? Just write ‘ㅋ’ or ‘ㅋㅋ’. One ‘ㅋ’ can also be used sarcastically.
If something is really funny? Use as many as you want! (within reason). ‘ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ’ would mean you find something extremely funny and you probably are actually laughing while texting. This could also be the equivalent of LMAO or ROFL in English.
Korean form of “haha”. Short for “하하하” (ha- ha-ha). This one is common, but I’d say ㅋㅋㅋ is still used a bit more. Like ‘ㅋㅋㅋ’, the meaning can change depending on context and how funny something is.
Is a joke your friend made only slightly funny, or you want to keep the conversation friendly? Just use ‘ㅎ’ or ‘ ㅎㅎ’. Is it something extremely funny? Then you can type ‘ㅎㅎㅎㅎㅎㅎ’. Keep in mind that some people also use the full version of ‘하하하’ when typing, although it’s become a bit rarer over the years.
Korean form of “puhaha” or “bwahahaha”. Short for “푸하하” (pu-ha-ha). This one usually represents a huge laugh. Although it represents a big burst of laughter, it’s not used nearly as often as the two mentioned above. In fact, I think I’ve only had one friend use this on occasion.
What’s interesting about this version is that there are quite a few shops and restaurants using this in their name if you search on something like Naver or Kakao Maps.
Another way to write laughter although this one is not used as often. Short for “키득키득”. If you were to make an English equivalent of this one, it would be LMAO.
It’s definitely rarer than any of the three above, but it’s still a good thing to add to your memory bank and impress your friends. I’ve actually never used this one or seen anyone around me use it.
Korean version of “hehehe”. Similar to “ㅎㅎㅎ”. The same rules for ‘ㅎㅎㅎ’ and ‘ㅋㅋㅋ’ apply here.
A cuter version of “ㅋㅋㅋ”. Pronounced as “kikiki”. If you really want to sound cute, innocent, or mischievous, then using this will be perfect.
Now, we’ve got an important sentence to teach you that we couldn’t fit into the infographic at the end of this post. If you want to express your laughter without the use of short symbols or abbreviations, here is a way to do that…
웃겨 죽겠다 (ut-gyeo ju-kett-da)
This literally means that you’re dying of laughter. This is used very frequently. If you’re around friends or family who are good at making jokes that have you literally on the floor laughing, you can say, or write this. Hyo and I use this one frequently around her sister because her sister is just freaking hilarious.
If we break it down, we get:
웃겨 >>> is conjugated from 웃다 (to laugh) into a grammar pattern.
죽겠다 >>> is conjugated from 죽다 (to die) into the same grammar pattern.
We hope to do more posts on grammar in the future so you can understand these more.
As we just said above, 웃다 is the verb for laughing in Korean, so here are some example sentences using this verb to finish this post off. How do you express laughter in your country? What shows or movies make you laugh over and over again?
뭐가 그렇게 웃겨? (mweo-ga keu-reo-ge ut-gyeo) = What’s so funny?
코웃음을 웃다 (ko-u-sseum-eul ut-da) = to snort with laughter
네가 웃을 때 너무 좋아. (ne-ga u-seul ddae neo-mu jo-wa) = It’s so nice when you laugh.