36 Ways to Express Emotions in Korean

By OptiLingo • 7 minute read

how to express emotions in korean

How to Express Your Emotions in Korean

Life is full of emotions. And expressing them can help you communicate your situation or desire. It’s important to learn how to express emotions in Korean. After all, most conversations involve talking about how you feel at some point. Right? Not only will knowing how to express yourself help you reach fluency faster, but you’ll form better friendships and connections with people as you learn. Here’s what you need to know if you want to express your feelings in Korean.

Do Koreans Refrain From Expressing Emotions?

While Korean has both formal and informal speech, it’s difficult to define Korean words for feelings and emotions as either formal or informal. For example, you’ll use some words in formal situations more frequently than informal ones. That’s life.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those words are truly formal. You can use these words in a poetic or casual way as well. Ignoring these confusing, but important rules can cause your Korean speech to be unnatural. So, don’t fight it. Instead, keep these rules in mind as you move forward is a smart idea.

Grammar and Expressing Emotions in Korean

Before we dive into the vocabulary, it’s important to take a look at how you build these Korea phrases. It may surprise you, but there are no adjectives in Korean. Happy, sad, nervous, bored, these are all adjectives in English. They’re words that describe nouns. So, how do we express emotions in Korean without them? Let’s take a look at how Korean grammar handles emotions.

In Korean, you have descriptive verbs instead of adjectives. This means that you need to conjugate a verb to communicate a description. You’ll see in the vocabulary list below, that the English equivalent of Korean phrases is a conjugated version of “I am”. Be mindful of this when you’re expressing your emotions and feelings in Korean.

express emotions in korean comfortably

How to Express Positive Emotions in Korean

기분 [gibun] – Feeling / Mood

기분 means ‘mood’ or ‘feeling’ what you feel, as in your emotions. Sometimes, it’s natural to translate 기분 as ‘emotion’. Since 기분 is a noun, ‘I feel great’ becomes ‘my feeling is great’ when you translate English to Korean.

Native Koreans don’t use a first-person possessive ‘my’ when they use 기분.

This Korean word is very essential because ‘나는 행복해요 (I’m happy)’ is a very uncommon phrase. Native Koreans would say ‘기분이 좋다 (feeling is good)’ instead.

행복하다 [henbokada] – To be happy

행복하다 is ‘happy in Korean’. This phrase is crucial. Not because it’s essential, but because it’s rarely used in Korean conversation.

행복하다 is a very serious and poetic word. If someone asks if you are happy in Korean, then it translates into something like ‘are you happy and satisfied with your life?’. It’s never used in reference to small things like ‘I’m happy for you’. Even though 행복하다 has the same meaning as ‘happy’. The usage is completely different.

Also, if you simply want to say ‘I’m happy today’ then say ‘기분이 좋아요 (I feel good)’ instead.

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좋아해요 [joahaeyo] – To like

You would use word joahaeyo in Korean as a general term meaning love, I like you, I love you.

재미있다 [jemi:itdda] – To be fun

재미있다 is an informal Korean word for ‘to be fun’. Native Koreans often use it as ‘to be funny’ also. It’s the most common Korean word that is used to describe when a person or thing is fun or funny. Even though it’s a formal Korean word, it’s not uncommon to use this word informal conversation as well.

To say ‘I had a great day’ or ‘I spent a great day’ in Korean, using 재미있다 most naturally translates to ‘‘오늘 재밌었어요 (it was fun today)’ especially in casual conversations.

If you pronounce 재미있다 fast, then it sounds ‘재밌다’. 재밌다 is an abbreviation of 재미있다.

being happy in korean can lead you to fluency

More Positive Korean Words to Express Emotions

Romanized Korean
(I’m) happy.
사랑에 빠졌어요.
Sarang-e bbajyeosseoyo.
(I’m) in love.
살아있음을 느껴요.
Sara-isseumeul neukkyeoyo.
(I) feel alive.
기대 되요.
Gidae dwoeyo.
(I’m) excited.
(I’m) amazed.
(I’m) content.
균형 잡힌 느낌이에요.
Gyunhyeong jabhin neukkimieyo.
(I) feel balanced.
(you are / this is) silly
(I am) proud
(I am) energetic
(I am) lively

sad in korean

How to Communicate Negative Emotions in Korean

슬프다 [seulpeuda] – To be sad

슬프다 means ‘to be sad’ in Korean. 슬프다 describes an extremely sad mood, like the idea that you are on the verge of tears. Native Koreans avoid using 슬프다 when they talk about their emotions in conversations.

Instead, it is acceptable to use, ‘기분이 안좋다 (I feel not good)’ or ‘우울하다 (to be depressed)’.

Although Koreans may not use, 슬프다 when talking about personal emotion, it’s perfectly acceptable to describe a movie or a story like ‘이 영화 진짜 슬퍼요 (this movie is really sad’).

우울하다 [u:ulhada] – To be depressed / Blue / Down

우울하다 is a formal Korean word that means ‘to be depressed’. While this is a formal Korean word, people often use it mostly in casual conversations.

우울하다 is the most common expression for ‘being blue’, ‘being down’ or ‘being depressed’ or ‘being sad’. You can also say ‘기분이 안좋다 (I don’t feel good)’ for ‘being down’.

화나다 [hwanada] – To be angry / Upset / Mad

화나다 is ‘to be angry’ in English. The funny thing is that 화나다 is not an adjective. It’s an action that describes when you become angry. There is also a big difference between English and Korean use. Since it’s an action, even if you write it in the past tense, it always means ‘you are angry’ right now, not ‘I was angry’.

짜증나다 [jjajeungnada] – To be annoyed / Irritated / Frustrated

짜증나다 is a unique Korean word that English doesn’t have. The translation is subject to change based on context, but it generally means ‘to be annoyed/irritated’, or ‘to be frustrated’.

짜증나다 also describes ‘something that keeps bothering you, so you are upset’. Koreans often use it as an exclamation such as ‘oh come on!’, ‘for god sake!’.

Additionally, 짜증나다 is an action just like 화나다, so the past tense form 짜증났다 describes the present status. When you say, ‘something or someone is 짜증나다’. The meaning then becomes ‘to be annoying’ or ‘to be frustrating’.

긴장하다 [ginjanghada] – To be nervous / To be tensed

To be nervous/tensed is an easy phrase. 긴장하다 means ‘to be nervous’ in Korean, and it’s very similar to ‘to be nervous’ or ‘to be tensed’ in English.

심심하다 [simsimhada] – To be bored

심심하다 is an informal Korean word that describes a state of ‘being bored’. Unlike other Korean words that describe moods, it’s acceptable and natural to use this word only in casual conversations.

However, this usage is limited to describing an emotion, not describing if a game or movie is boring. You also cannot use it as a verb. Therefore, you can’t use it to say, ‘something bores someone’.

The Korean word for frustration is Aigoo. Think of Aigoo as the Korean equivalent of “aw man!” or “geez”.

how do you say sad in korean

More Words for Negative Emotions in Korean

Romanized Korean
(I’m) tired.
(I’m) angry.
(I’m) jealous.
(I’m) worried.
몹시 화가나요.
Mobshi hwaga-nayo.
(I’m) furious.
(I’m) embarrassed.
긴장이 되요.
Ginjang-i dwoeyo.
(I’m) nervous.
(I’m) frightened.
(I’m) busy.
(I’m) sad.
좀 바빠요.
Jom bappayo.
(I’m) in a hurry.
(I’m) exhausted
(I’m) unsatisfied
(I’m) frightened.
(I’m) disappointed

How to Learn Korean Faster!

Now you have 36 different ways you can show your feelings and emotions in Korean. But, of course, this language is much more than just this lesson. If you want to reach complete Korean fluency fast, then you need a reliable language learning method. Luckily, the OptiLingo offers everything you need to express all your emotions in Korean.

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