"Family" in Korean: Talking About Your Family in Korean (2023)

"Family" in Korean: Talking About Your Family in Korean (1)

written by
Caitlin Sacasas

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. ?

When you meet someone new for the first time, the topic of your family is bound to come up. So it’s best to learn how to talk about your family in Korean!

This might be even more important to learn in Korean than in English because Korean has a lot of formalities when it comes to talking about family.

For instance, in English, both older and younger siblings are “brother” and “sister.” But in Korean, there are different words depending on if they’re older or younger, married or unmarried.

Not only that, there are different terms for your dad’s side of the family and your mom’s — even if they’re the same role, like “grandmother” or “uncle”.

But don’t worry. It’s not bad once you get the hang of it, and we’re going to break it all down in this lesson on Korean family terms.

To get started, here’s a quick list of the most important words for family members in Korean:

  • Family: 가족 (gajok)
  • Dad: 아빠 (appa)
  • Father: 아버지 (abeoji)
  • Mom: 엄마 (eomma)
  • Mother: 어머니 (eomeoni)
  • Parents: 부모님 (bumonim)
  • Older brother (for females): 오빠 (oppa)
  • Older sister (for females): 언니 (eonni)
  • Older brother (for males): 형 (hyeong)
  • Older sister (for males): 누나 (nuna)
  • Younger brother: 남동생 (namdongsaeng)
  • Younger sister: 여동생 (yeodongsaeng)
  • Grandmother: 할머님 (halmeonim)
  • Grandfather: 할아버님 (harabeonim)

“Family” in Korean

The word for “family” in Korean is 가족 (gajok).

You may often be asked something like 가족이 몇 명입니까? (gajok-i myeot myeong-imnikka), which means “How many people are in your family?” in formal speech. Although be aware the formality and sentence-ending may change!

(Video) Names of Family Members in Korean 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦🇰🇷

This is a good time to practice your Korean numbers and answer with: 우리 가족은 네 명입니다 (uri gajok-eun ne myeong-imnida) which is the formal way to say “We’re a family of four.”

Korea is influenced by Confucianism, just like Chinese and Japanese culture. What that means is, the family is often seen as a unit, and each person’s individual actions reflect on the whole family unit.

Because of this, great emphasis is placed on following a certain path. Family members are expected to maintain respect and represent the family well at all times. It’s also extremely important to show older family members respect and reverence.

This means that Korean people call most family members by their honorific titles rather than their names.

So, like how you would use Korean surnames with honorifics to show respect, you would also use honorifics to show respect to your family.

For instance, in English, you’d probably call your older brother by his first name. But in Korean, you would call him 형 (hyeong or hyung depending on romanization) if you’re a guy or 오빠 (oppa) if you’re a girl. That’s his title — “older brother” — not his name.

Parents in Korean

In English, there are formal and informal ways to refer to your parents. You can say “father” to be formal, or “dad” to be casual. The same is true in Korean:

  • “Dad” in Korean: 아빠 (appa)
  • “Father” in Korean: 아버지 (abeoji)
  • “Mom” in Korean: 엄마 (eomma)
  • “Mother” in Korean: 어머니 (eomeoni)
  • “Parents” in Korean: 부모님 (bumonim)

If you’ve ever watched Korean dramas, I’m sure you’ve heard these words quite often. One thing you’ll notice though is it’s much more common to call your dad 아버지 (abeoji) (showing more respect) but to call your mom 엄마 (eomma).

This goes back to the hierarchical nature of Korean society, and the father being the head of the household.

It’s okay to be a bit more casual and close with your mom, but keep things a bit formal with your dad. This also, of course, depends on the dad’s personality and household standards, though.

Siblings in Korean

Now here’s where you have to start thinking about age and gender a bit more. If you’re a woman, you’ll call your siblings by different terms than your brother would. And it also depends on if your sibling is older or younger than you.

So, let’s first look at what women would call their older siblings in Korean:

  • Older brother in Korean: 오빠 (oppa)
  • Older sister in Korean: 언니 (eonni)

And now what guys would call their siblings in Korean:

(Video) The family I lost in North Korea. And the family I gained | Joseph Kim

  • Older brother: 형 (hyeong)
  • Older sister: 누나 (nuna)

For younger siblings, the word is the same regardless of your gender:

  • Younger brother: 남동생 (namdongsaeng)
  • Younger sister: 여동생 (yeodongsaeng)

You could also use 동생 (dongsaeng), which means “younger sibling”.

And a few more important Korean words you should know:

  • Siblings: 형제 자매 (hyeongje jamae)
  • Brothers: 형제 (hyeongje)
  • Sisters: 자매 (jamae)

So, you can see “siblings” directly translates as “brothers and sisters” in English!

One last note here: It’s common to hear some of these terms used with friends or even a boyfriend or girlfriend nowadays. It’s especially common to call your boyfriend (or the guy you like) 오빠 (oppa) to be cute and flirty.

If Your Sibling is Married…

If your sibling is married, there are a few more words you might need to know.

If you’re close with your sibling and sibling-in-law, you can simply call them by the same terms you would as if they’re your immediate family. In fact, siblings-in-law now count as your immediate family.

But if you’re not close with them and want to be more formal, you can use these terms:

Women would use:

  • Older brother’s wife: 새언니 (sae-eon-ni)
  • Younger brother’s wife: 올케 (olke)
  • Older sister’s husband: 형부 (hyeong-bu)
  • Younger sister’s husband: 제부 (je-bu)

Men would use:

  • Older brother’s wife: 형수 (hyeong-su)
  • Younger brother’s wife: 제수씨 (je-su-ssi)
  • Older sister’s husband: 매형 (mae-hyeong)
  • Younger sister’s husband: 매제 (mae-je)

Grandparents in Korean

To talk to or about your grandparents in Korean, you would say:

  • Grandparents: 조부모님 (jobumonim)
  • Grandmother: 할머님 (halmeonim)
  • Grandma: 할머니 (halmeoni)
  • Grandfather: 할아버님 (harabeonim)
  • Grandpa: 할아버지 (harabeoji)

Adding 님 (nim) to the end makes it a bit more formal, but both versions are acceptable to call your grandparents.

Also, while grandparents are often not considered part of the nuclear family unit in the West, they are considered immediate family in Korea.

(Video) [Learn Must Know Korean Words] Family Vocabulary - 가족

Spouses and Kids in Korean

When you’re talking to your spouses, you’ll normally call them by a cute nickname. Something like:

  • Honey: 여보 (yeobo)
  • Sweetheart: 애인 (aein)
  • Cutie: 귀요미 (kiyomi)

…And also 오빠 (oppa) as we already mentioned, which is most common for men.

But if you’re talking to someone else about your spouse, it’s best to call them by their title:

  • Husband: 남편 (napyeon)
  • Wife: 아내 (anae)

If you’re not married yet, here’s how you talk about the person you’re dating:

  • Boyfriend: 남자친구 (namjachingu)
  • Girlfriend: 여자친구 (yeojachingu)
  • Fiancé (male): 약혼자 (yakhonja)
  • Fiancée (female): 약혼녀 (yakhonnyeo)

The In-Laws

If you’re married (or going to be) to someone who’s Korean, then you’ll need to know how to refer to your in-laws.

They would be…

  • Father-in-law (husband’s dad): 시아버지 (siabeoji)
  • Father-in-law (wife’s dad): 장인 (jang-in)
  • Mother-in-law (husband’s mom): 시어머니 (shieomeoni)
  • Mother-in-law (wife’s mom): 장모님 (jangmonim)
  • In-laws: 사돈 (sadon)

These are more common though when talking about your in-laws to others. When talking to them, you can call them “dad” and “mom” — 아버지 (abeoji) and 어머니 (eomeoni), respectively.

As for your other in-laws, it gets quite complicated depending on who’s married and who’s not, who’s older and who’s younger. Even whether they’re on the husband or wife’s side.

You could learn all of those words, too, but chances are you’d only use them on very rare occasions. Instead, you could get by calling them the normal terms for “brother” or “sister”, as you would with mom and dad. When in doubt, you can ask what they’d prefer to be called.

Extended Family in Korean

In Korean, you can refer to your extended family as 대가족 (daegajok) or “large family”.

What you call someone in this category depends on if they’re related to your mom or your dad. So we’ll divide this up into two groups: maternal extended family, and paternal extended family.

A few that are the same regardless of which side of the family:

  • Nephew: 조카 (joka)
  • Niece: 조카딸 (jokattal)
  • Cousin: 사촌 (sachon)
  • Grandson/grandchild: 손자 (sonja)
  • Granddaughter: 손녀 (sonnyeo)

Maternal Extended Family

If talking about your mom’s side of the family, use these terms:

(Video) 싱어송라이터 가수 유라(YOURA) 님과 중식 메뉴 싹 다 시켰습니다!! (Jajangmyeon & Jjamppong) 먹방!! - Mukbang eating show

  • Aunt in Korean: 이모 (imo)
  • Uncle in Korean: 외숙부 (oesukbu)
  • Aunt’s husband: 이모부 (imobu)
  • Uncle’s wife: 외숙모 (oesukmo)
  • Mom’s side of the family: 외가 (oega)

Paternal Extended Family

Next, your dad’s side. Things get more complicated here as well, especially for the men on your dad’s side of the family. This is because of the social hierarchy in society, but also within a family.

  • Uncle (younger, unmarried): 삼촌 (samchon)
  • Uncle (younger, married): 작은아빠 (jageunappa)
  • Uncle (older, unmarried or married): 큰아빠 (keunappa)
  • Aunt: 고모 (gomo)
  • Younger uncle’s wife: 작은엄마 (jageuneomma)
  • Older uncle’s wife: 큰엄마 (keuneomma)
  • Aunt’s husband: 고모부 (gomobu)
  • Dad’s side of the family: 친가 (chinga)

All in the Family in Korean

And there you have it! Yes, it’s a lot of family names to show respect. But unless you marry into a Korean family, you won’t use these often except for immediate family names.

Really, you’ll probably hear the rest in Korean TV shows more than anything else.

So focus on the 80/20 rule of vocabulary and learn the ones most relevant to you!

Now that you’ve mastered family in Korean, learn how to talk about love in Korean or work on practical Korean phrases for your first conversations.

"Family" in Korean: Talking About Your Family in Korean (2)

Caitlin Sacasas

Content Writer, Fluent in 3 Months

Caitlin is a copywriter, content strategist, and language learner. Besides languages, her passions are fitness, books, and Star Wars. Connect with her: Twitter | LinkedIn

Speaks: English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish

View all posts by Caitlin Sacasas


What does Unni mean? ›

언니 (eonni; unnie) Literal meaning: “older sister” Is also used to call: A female friend or a female sibling who's older than you (as a female)

What do Koreans call their inlaws? ›

In-laws (사돈, sa-don)

아주버님 (ah-ju-buh-nim) — husband's older brother (This also means the husband of a wife's older sister.) 형님 (hyung-nim) — husband's older sister or husband's brother's wife. 동서 (dong-suh) — husband's younger or older brother's wife (If the 동서 is older than the wife, the wife may also call her 형님.)

What does Bubu mean in Korean? ›

부부 • (bubu) (hanja 夫婦) couple, husband and wife; marital.

How do Koreans actually introduce themselves? ›

Annyeonghaseyo (안녕하세요) is used to introduce oneself in Korean in both formal and semiformal contexts. In formal situations, another form can also be used, namely cheoeum boepgesseumnida (처음 뵙겠습니다), which literally means “see you for the first time”.

What is the Korean family rule? ›

Traditionally, Korean family hierarchies were defined by the Confucian organisation of relationships, which emphasised patriarchal authority. Under this family model, a husband/father was to exhibit dominance and kindness to his wife in return for obedience and love.

What does Abeonim mean in Korean? ›

1. 아버님 (abeonim) The formal way to say “father” in Korean is 아버님 (abeonim). We need to add the suffix 님 (nim) to our subject's name when we are addressing them formally (never add this to your own name, though).

What does omonim mean in Korean? ›

OMONI (어머니) means 'mother' in Korean. It is the formal form of the word and is most often used to refer to one's mother in conversation or used by grown children. It is pronounced Eoh-muh-nee. This is my Omoni and inspiration for my restaurant.

What does Jamsi mean in Korean? ›

Noun. 잠시 • (jamsi) (hanja 暫時) a moment, short time. 잠시만요.

What is the opposite of oppa? ›

Nuna is the opposite of oppa. While oppa is used exclusively by females when addressing older males, nuna is used exclusively by males when addressing older females. You may also see 누나 spelled as “Nuna.” Nuna is used in place of a person's name.

What is a Hoobae? ›

Sunbae/Hoobae: This is similar to the previous one. Basically "sunbae" is a senior, so you would use this for people who are in higher grades than you at school or people who have more experience than you at work. " Hoobae" is the opposite, meant for juniors.

What do Koreans call their wife? ›

You wouldn't use most of the above terms of endearment when talking about your partner. Instead, you'd simply call them “husband” (남편| nampyeon), “wife” (아내 | anae / 와이프 | waipeu), “boyfriend” (남친 | namchin) and “girlfriend” (여친 | yeochin).

What is Korean slang for wife? ›

아내 (anae) wife (noun)

Do koreans take their husbands name? ›

Korean names consist of two parts: a family name and a given name. Traditionally, a child takes their father's surname like in many other cultures, but Korean women do not take their husband's surname after marriage.

What does Cha Gi mean in Korean? ›

Just like 여보 (yeobo), 자기 (jagi) and 자기야 (jagiya) are also spelled in different ways in English, such as “chagiya” or “chagi.” Nonetheless, they all mean “honey” in Korean.

What does da bin mean in Korean? ›

Da" means all, "bin" means refined.

What does Jan Chi mean in Korean? ›

The word "Janchi" means "feast" in Korean, in reference to the festive occasions on which the dish would be prepared, such as a wedding or a sixtieth birthday celebration.

How do Koreans show respect? ›

Basic Etiquette

Respect is exhibited in different ways. Respect should always be shown to those that are older than you. This involves deferring to their opinion, waiting for their input and lowering your gaze if they are an elder. Objects, gifts and food should be offered and received with two hands.

Why do Koreans hiss when talking? ›

Previous studies have shown that Korean speakers produce more frequent hisses when addressing status superiors. This suggests a politeness-related function, particularly given the importance of marking social distance towards elders and superiors in Korean culture.

Do Koreans kiss when dating? ›

Public displays of affection (PDA) is a sin most Korean couples commit. While you should keep the steamy make-out sessions private, PDA tends to happen on the norm in Korean dating culture. Holding hands, giving a peck, or even a kiss is a usual sight.

What do Korean parents call their child? ›

Relatives in Korean
Parent's family친정 (chinjeong)
Husband's family시집 (sijip)
Child/Children아이 (ai)
Son아들 (adeul)
10 more rows
May 6, 2023

Is marriage important in Korea? ›

In traditional Korean culture, like many traditional cultures, marriage between a man and a woman were decided by the bride and groom's elders. As in Confucian values family and the customs of a family is placed above all. Marriage is considered the most important passage in one's life.

What is the average family size in Korea? ›

Data source is Michael Bauer Research GmbH. ArcGIS Online subscription required. This map shows the average household size in South Korea in 2022, in a multiscale map (Country, Province, and District). Nationally, the average household size is 2.4 people per household.

What does Agashi mean in Korean? ›

The term 아가씨 (agassi, "young lady") is preferable when addressing a young girl of unknown age.

What does Yeogiyo mean in English? ›

여기 means 'here' and 요 is an end particle to be polite. However, 여기요 is more used in almost the same way as 'excuse me', to get attention.

What does Gongbu mean in Korean? ›

from Korean gongbu= "study" + bangsong = "broadcast"

What is Namchin in Korean? ›

남친 / 여친 – (namchin / yeochin) Meaning: boyfriend/girlfriend. This is a shortened way of saying 남자 친구 (nam-ja chin-goo) and 여자 친구 (yeo-ja chin-goo). This is similar to shortening boyfriend and girlfriend in English using gf and bf.

What does sesange mean in English? ›

1 “Oh My God!” in Korean. 1.1 1. 세상에 (sesange)

What does Kamchagiya mean in Korean? ›

English trans: "you scared me"

What does Mo Hae mean in Korean? ›

To say, “What are you doing?” in Korean informally, you can drop the 요 (yo) and say 뭐 해? (mwo hae) instead.

What does simsimhae mean in Korean? ›

심심해 (simsimhae)

I'm bored from being alone all day. This video shows How to Say “I'm Bored” in Korean.

What is Uri Omma in Korean? ›

It literally means “our family.” And the list goes on for example, 우리 엄마 [uri eomma] "my mom” or literally “our mom”. Korean people also use the word 우리 [uri] when talking about a group that they are strongly attached to like a family member.

What is Noona Oppa? ›

Oppa (오빠): This is a term for older brothers of girls, but can also imply either an older male friend and even a boyfriend, who is older than the girl. Noona (누나): This is a term for older sisters of boys, but can also be used for an older female friend and even a girlfriend, who is older than the boy.

What is Oppa vs Noona? ›

The words oppa (오빠) and hyung (형) mean “older brother.” Meanwhile, the Korean words noona (누나) and unnie (언니) mean “older sister.”

Why do Korean girls call guys oppa? ›

The literal definition of oppa (오빠 in hangul) is “older brother”, used by women. It's a super handy word because calling someone “you” (너) in Korean is mostly reserved for close friends, thanks to the hierarchy in Korean society. Oppa is a way to say “you” to an older Korean guy without offending him.

What does Nim mean in Korean? ›

Nim (Hangul: 님) (by itself after a proper noun) is the highest form of honorifics and above ssi. Nim will follow addressees' names on letters/emails and postal packages. It is often roughly translated as "Mr." or "Ms./Mrs.".

What is Sunbae? ›

Noun. sunbae (plural sunbaes) An upperclassman or senior, in the context of South Korea. quotations ▼ (South Korean idol fandom) An older or more experienced idol, viewed as a veteran, mentor, or predecessor.

What does Dongsaeng line mean? ›

Dongsaeng (동생) : Meaning “younger sibling,” it can refer to a true blood sibling, or a close friend whom you treat as a younger sibling. The word can apply to both genders.

What Korean name means love? ›

Aera: A beautiful Korean name for girls that means “love.”

What do Korean guys call their girlfriends? ›

Uri gangaji – “Our puppy” or “My puppy” Typically, boyfriends will use this Korean term of endearment when addressing their girlfriends. It is a pet name to call your special person or loved one. As a matter of fact, it's quite common for parents to use this phrase to refer to their children as well.

What is call girlfriend in Korean? ›

여자친구 (yeo-ja-chin-gu) — girlfriend

You already know that 친구 (chingu) means “friend.” 여자 (yeoja), on the other hand, means “woman” so 여자친구 is the standard Korean word for girlfriend.

What do you call an older Korean girlfriend? ›

If he or she is of the same age, then you can call them by name. You may use “오빠 – Oppa” (to older boyfriend) or “누나 – Nuna” (to older girlfriend) when you are in love with someone older than you. And if you feel love, then you can use “여보 – yeobo” (honey) or “자기야 – Jagiya” (darling).

Is it wrong to marry someone with the same last name in Korea? ›

Traditionally, men and women who have the same surnames and "ancestral homes", called dongseong dongbon (Hangul: 동성동본, Hanja: 同姓同本), are not permitted to marry.

Is it disrespectful to call a Korean by their first name? ›

It is generally considered rude to address people by their given names in Korean culture. This is particularly the case when dealing with adults or one's elders. It is acceptable to call someone by his or her given name if he or she is the same age as the speaker.

How do Koreans introduce each other? ›

Koreans say “안녕하세요 [an nyeong ha seyo]?” while slightly bowing their head when they greet others. “안녕하세요?”is used interchangeably to say “Hi, hello, good morning/afternoon/evening”. You can simply say “안녕?” when you are greeting your friends or a person younger than you.

Do you use honorifics to friends and family on Korea? ›

Honorifics are a critical part of the Korean culture and language. It's how you show respect to your family, your boss and co-workers, and even your friends. I'm sure you've heard them before.

What does Jamshi mean in Korean? ›

잠시 • (jamsi) (hanja 暫時) a moment, short time.

How do you greet a whole family? ›

When addressing an entire family use the family's last name preceded by “The.” For example, “The Smiths.” Use professional titles when appropriate. Always use professional titles when addressing members of the clergy, elected officials, doctors or those who have earned their Ph. D.

What does Bogo sip Eoyo mean in English? ›

I miss you = 보고 싶어 (bogo sipeo) I miss you so much = 너무 보고 싶어 (neomu bogo sipeo)

Do Koreans hug when greeting? ›

Handshakes and bows are acceptable greetings, but greeting someone with close physical contact, such as hugging or grabbing hands or arms, is bad Korean etiquette. Hugging strangers is certainly bad manners in Korea and will most likely make the other person extremely uncomfortable, especially when in public.

How do Koreans show respect to each other? ›

Basic Etiquette

Respect is exhibited in different ways. Respect should always be shown to those that are older than you. This involves deferring to their opinion, waiting for their input and lowering your gaze if they are an elder. Objects, gifts and food should be offered and received with two hands.

Do Koreans hug when they meet? ›

In Korea, this type of physical affection between those of the same gender is common in a non-romantic context. Friends can be seen very comfortably sitting in each other's laps, stroking each other's hands and arms, holding hands, putting their arms around each other's shoulders and hugging.

What does Orabeoni mean? ›

13. Nu-i/Orabeoni (누이/오라버니) — Older sister/brother.

What is the female version of oppa? ›

누나 (noona) to address a female friend who is older. Nuna is the opposite of oppa. While oppa is used exclusively by females when addressing older males, nuna is used exclusively by males when addressing older females. You may also see 누나 spelled as “Nuna.” Nuna is used in place of a person's name.

What is the female version of Hyung? ›

You can use unnie to refer to an elder sister or an older female acquaintance if you're a girl. If you're a man, you use hyung to refer to an elder brother or an older male buddy. Also, if you're a man, you use noona to refer to an older female companion. Now let's move on to other Korean Terms!

What does Imnida mean in Korean? ›

살 (sal) means “age” and 입니다 (imnida) means “to be.” For example, if you're twenty-one years old, you say: 저는 스물한살입니다.

What is the meaning of Seumnida? ›

습니다 • (-seumnida) Declarative suffix for sentence-final verbs in the 하십시오체 (hasipsioche, “formal polite”) speech level.


1. Impress Your Family with This Speedy Korean Veggie Salad!
(By Taste)
2. 1.Talking about Family in Korean, Speaking Korean for beginners, Korean grammar, Korean vocabulary
(The Korean Language Class )
3. North Korean refugees see their family for the first time in years
(Liberty in North Korea)
(Pinay Mom in South Korea)
6. Ryan Bang receives a birthday message from his Korean family and friends | It's Showtime
(ABS-CBN Entertainment)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Otha Schamberger

Last Updated: 03/30/2023

Views: 6546

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Otha Schamberger

Birthday: 1999-08-15

Address: Suite 490 606 Hammes Ferry, Carterhaven, IL 62290

Phone: +8557035444877

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: Fishing, Flying, Jewelry making, Digital arts, Sand art, Parkour, tabletop games

Introduction: My name is Otha Schamberger, I am a vast, good, healthy, cheerful, energetic, gorgeous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.