Understanding Korean Slang

Understanding Korean Slang

There’s the Korea you learn in books and there’s the Korean you learn on the streets. To mirror the short list of insults directed at women, the following slurs are predominantly directed at men. Amongst the many terms which have been produced online, these terms are the most commonly colloquially used in real life.

Poser (허세남 ‘huhseh nam’)


‘Huhseh nam’ means ‘fake man’ as ‘huhseh’ (허세) is fake and ‘nam’ (남) is man. Such a man packages himself in a misleading way to compensate for lack of substance and skill. Akin to ‘bean-paste girl’, posers fake an emulation of luxury by flashing brands and cars.

Axe Man (‘도끼남 ‘dokki nam’)


‘Dokki’ (도끼) means axe. In spite of what you may think, an axe man is not a lumberjack. A ‘dokki nam’ relentlessly pursues someone, even if they are not interested. The Korean idiom ‘there isn’t a tree that won’t fall down after 100 strikes’ (백번 찍어 안넘어가는 나무 없다) is their motto. They do not take ‘No’ for an answer because of their innate narcissism and arrogance. They believe that they can get anyone. Someone who displays such blown out ego is said to ‘dokki byung’ or ‘axe disease’, which is similar to ‘gongju byung’.

Kimchi Man (김치남 ‘kimchi nam’)


‘Kimchi Man’ is a spin-off of the term ‘kimchi girl’. As the term ‘kimchi girl’ was first created to mock all Korean women, the definition of ‘kimchi man’ is very generic also. The term stereotypes Korean men as having poor appearance and abilities, but mainly labels them for being misogynistic, hypocritical and shallow.


Although politeness and respect is a huge part of Korean culture, blunt language amongst peers is used to express closeness. These terms can be used in a harmless and playful way with close friends, but other than for that reason, these terms should not be used to offend.

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