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The Peninsula

Ten Useful Korean Words for Winter

Published December 14, 2017
Author: Jenna Gibson
Category: South Korea

By Sang Kim and Jenna Gibson

With a cold snap freezing South Korea this week, we collected a list of 10 useful winter-related Korean words that could help you get through the season. Check out the list and please leave any useful words that we didn’t include in the comments below!







롱패딩 – long-pae-ding

“long padding”

Using the English words “long” + “padding,” this is a type of puffy jacket that reaches below the knees. This “long padding” trend has swept Korea, made popular in part by famous ice skater Kim Yuna wearing a special PyeongChang Olympic-themed coat.







감기 조심하다 – kam-gi jo-shim-ha-da

Be careful of colds

This is a phrase that a mom or concerned friend would say as you bundle up and prepare to head out into the frigid weather. It can be a nice way to show you care about another person’s health.







영하 기온 – young-ha ki-on

Below zero temperature

Keep an eye out for this phrase on weather reports – it means that the temperature is going to be dropping below freezing (0 degrees Celsius or 32 Fahrenheit).







빙판길 – bing-pan-gil

Icy road

Ice is often the most dangerous part of winter, particularly when roads freeze over with black ice that is difficult to see while driving. Listen for this word on news reports to be prepared for an icy day ahead.







내복 – nae-bok

Long johns/long underwear

Literally translated to “under clothes,” it’s common to wear some type of long underwear to keep warm in the winter, particularly if you’re going to be spending more than a short time outdoors.







아늑하다 – ah-neuk-ha-da


This is an adjective similar to the English word cozy; it’s used to describe a house, room, or some closed space that’s warm and inviting.







꽁꽁얼다 – ggong-ggong-eol-da

Frozen solid

Used to describe something that is completely frozen, such as a lake or river. This is used literally when something has turned to ice, not as a way to describe how cold you feel on a chilly day.







삼한사온 – sam-han-sa-on

Three cold, four warm

Dating back to ancient Korea, this word describes the usual winter weather pattern in Korea, where there will be three cold days followed by four days that are slightly warmer. It’s unclear if that pattern still holds true today, especially with global warming, but Koreans still use this phrase when they see a cold-warm pattern of temperatures in the winter.







겨울 길거리 간식 – kyeo-ul kil-geo-ri kan-shik

Winter street foods

Korea is famous for delicious street food, and there is no better way to warm up on a cold day than with a warm snack. Some popular winter street food/snacks include: 호떡(ho-dduk) – Korean pancake with sweet fillings, 호빵(ho-bbang) – steamed buns, 군고구마(gun-go-gu-ma) – roasted sweet potato, and 군밤 (gun-bam) – roasted chestnuts.







한파 – han-pa

Cold snap

A word used to describe sudden drop of the temperature in the winter, 한파 is commonly used on weather forecasts or on the news to warn of frigid temperatures.


If you liked this list, check out the other posts in our series of useful Korean words: 10 Useful Korean Slang Terms, Ten Korean Words that Don’t Exist in English, and Ten Korean Dating Terms.


Sang Kim is the Director of Public Affairs & Intern Coordinator. Jenna Gibson is the Director of Communications at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the authors’ alone.

Image from Young Sok Yun 윤영석’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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