Korean Onomatopoeia

A great way to make your Korean sound more natural is to use Korean onomatopoeia and Korean memetic words.

If you’re not familiar with these terms ‘onomatopoeia’ (의성어) means words which imitate a sound and memetic words (의태어) are words which mimic or describe the shape / movement of something.

Korean onomatopoeia and memetic words are really fun to learn. They are used differently compared to onomatopoeia in English and reveal just how descriptive and colorful the Korean language can be.

In this post we will teach you the difference between 의성어 and 의태어 and some common Korean onomatopoeia words and Korean memetic words.

And Check out the bottom of the page for a fun Korean video lesson which teachers you Korean onomatopoeia words to do with cooking.

First let’s take a look at some fun Korean onomatopoeia words.

Korean Onomatopoeia and Memetic Sounds

Korean onomatopoeia words are words which imitate a sound and sound like the thing it is describing. For example, in English to describe a dogs bark you would use the word ‘woof’. In Korean, the sound of a dogs bark is 멍멍 (meongmeong).

Memetic sounds (의태어) are similar to onomatopoeia but instead of describing the sound, they describe the shape / movement of something. For example, when you can feel your heart throbbing because your excited you can say 두근두근 (dugeun dugeun) to describe this throbbing / beating movement of your heart.

Here is a list of our favorite Korean onomatopoeia (의성어) and memetic (의태어) words, starting with animal sounds.

Onomatopoeia To Do With Animals – Korean Animal Sounds

  • 멍멍 (meongmeong) – The sound of a dogs barking. (English – woof woof)
  • 꿀꿀 (ggool ggool) – The sound that a pig makes (English – oink oink)
  • 음매 (eummae) – The sound that a cow makes (English – moo)
  • 꽥꽥 (ggwek ggwek) – The sound a duck makes (English – quack quack)
  • 개굴개굴 (gaegul gaegul) – The sound a frog makes (English – ribbit)
  • 야옹 (ya-ong) – The sound a cat mates (English – meow)
  • 꼬끼오 (ggo gi o) – The sound a rooster makes (English – Cock-a-doodle-do)
  • 매애 (mae ae) – The sound a sheep makes (English – bah)
  • 짹짹 (jjek jjek) – The sound that birds make (English – tweet tweet)

Onomatopoeia To Do With People (의성어 / 의태어)

  • 두근두근 (dugeun dugeun) – Describes the motion of a heart throbbing when excited / scared.
  • 후루룩 (hururuk) – The sound of slurping liquid or noodles quickly
  • 쿨쿨 (kul-kul) – The loud breathing sound one makes when in deep sleep (English – zzz)
  • 꼬르륵꼬르륵 (ggoreureuk ggoreureuk) – The sound of one’s stomach rumbling.
  • 드르렁드르렁 (deureuloeong deureuloeong) – The sound of snoring loudly
  • 하하 (haha) – The sound of laughing
  • 엉엉 (eong eong) – The sound of crying / blubbering loudly)
  • 소곤소곤 (sogon sogon) – The sound of whispering
  • 끄덕끄덕 (ggeudeok ggeudeok) – Describes the motion of nodding one’s head.
  • 쿵쾅쿵쾅 (kungkwang kungkwang) – The sound of stamping your feet loudly when walking.

Onomatopoeia To Do With Objects (의성어 / 의태어)

  • 보글보글 ( bogeul bogeul) – Describes the sound or motion of liquid boiling.
  • 반짝반짝 (banjjak banjjak) – Describes something shining / glittering with bright flashes of light.
  • 칙칙폭폭 (chikchikpokpok) – The sound of a train (English – choo choo)
  • 똑똑 (ddokddok) – Describes the sound or motion of something small repeatedly falling (water from a tap) or sound of tapping lightly on hard object.
  • 쾅쾅 (kwang kwang) – The sound of a big / heavy object falling / hitting something repeatedly.
  • 탁 (tak) – The sound of something being hit.
  • 휘휘 (hwee hwee) – Describes the motion of stirring quickly / whisking.
  • 살살 (sal sal) – Describes the motion of doing something gently.
  • 돌돌 (dol dol) – Describes the motion of rolling something up.

Korean Onomatopoeia Lesson

For a fun Korean lesson on onomatopoeia check out this great video from Korean Arah. In this video Korean Arah uses onomatopoeia ( 의성어) and memetic sounds (의태어) while cooking Korean food.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy saying these cute and fun Korean onomatopoeia words as much as we do.

If you want to learn more useful Korean, check out our free Korean lessons and our Korean vocabulary pages.