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Korean Family Terms – How to address relatives & friends

Even if you’re just traveling in Korea, but especially if you’re living there for a period of time, the topic of family is bound to come up. And you’ll absolutely want to learn the Korean family terms in preparation for that!

There are quite a few different family terms in Korean for you to learn. That is because Koreans often use titles instead of names to show respect. These family terms demonstrate the social and family hierarchy.

In this guide, we’ll show you exactly what each family term means and how to use it.

Husband wife and 2 kids playing

These are the terms that you will absolutely need to learn to discuss family with your new Korean speaking friends and contacts. You’ll quickly find yourself using at least one of these words everyday! Whether you are talking with or about your family, or with others, you can use the same words.

Family → 가족 (gajok)

Father → 아버지 (abeoji)

Dad → 아빠 (appa)

Mother → 어머니 (eomeoni)

Mom → 엄마 (eomma)

Parents → 부모님 (bumonim)

Grandparents → 조부모님 (jobumonim)

Grandfather → 할아버지 (harabeoji)

Grandmother → 할머니 (halmeoni)

Big brother (if you are a boy) → 형 (hyeong)

Big brother (if you are a girl) → 오빠 (oppa)

Big sister (if you are a boy) → 누나 (nuna)

Big sister (if you are a girl) → 언니 (eonni)

Younger sibling → 동생 (dongsaeng)

Younger brother → 남동생 (namdongsaeng)

Younger sister → 여동생 (yeodongsaeng)

Brothers → 형제 (hyeongje)

Sisters → 자매 (jamae)

Family sitting on the sofa

Korean terms for father’s side of the family

The next two sections may be more challenging for you to learn as there are many new terms to memorize. However, some of these words may come in surprisingly handy to know. In this section, we will go over terms that are specific to times when you are speaking of your father’s side of the family.

Father’s side of the family → 친가 (chinga)

Father’s older brother → 큰아빠, 백부 (keunappa, baekbu)

Father’s older brother’s wife → 큰엄마, 백모 (keuneomma, baengmo)

Father’s younger brother → 작은아빠 (jageunappa)

Father’s younger brother’s wife → 작은엄마 (jageuneomma)

Father’s unmarried younger brother → 삼촌, 숙부 (samchon, sukbu)

Father’s sister → 고모 (gomo)

Father’s sister’s husband → 고모부 (gomobu)

Korean terms for mother’s side of the family

Much like the above-mentioned terms for your father’s side of the family, these terms are only used when you want to talk about your mother’s side. Talking about your father’s and mother’s sides of the family may not be a daily topic for you, but these are incredibly useful words to know.

Mother’s side of the family → 외가 (oega)

Maternal grandfather → 외할아버지 (oeharabeoji)

Maternal grandmother → 외할머니 (oehalmeoni)

Mother’s brother → 외숙부 (oesukbu)

Mother’s brother’s wife → 외숙모 (oesungmo)

Mother’s sister → 이모 (imo)

Mother’s sister’s husband → 이모부 (imobu)

Korean terms for married couples to use with each other

Unless you marry a Korean or chat a lot with someone who is married to a Korean, the following section may not be of great importance to you. However, if you do intend to marry a Korean or one of your best friends is married, you will want to know this vocabulary and be able to use it. Some vocabulary changes depending on the situation they are being used in, and in those cases, we have made a note beside the word.

Husband → 남편 (nampyeon)

Wife → 부인 (buin)

In-laws → 사돈 (sadon)

Father-in-law (husband’s side) → 아버님 (abeonim), 시아버지 (siabeoji)

Father-in-law (wife’s side) → 장인 (jangin)

Mother-in-law (husband’s side) → 어머님 (eomeonim), 시어머니 (sieomeoni)

Mother-in-law (wife’s side) → 장모님 (jangmonim)

Brother-in-law (husband’s side, older brother) → 아주버님 (ajubeonim), 형님 (hyeongnim)

Brother-in-law (husband’s side, younger brother) → 시동생 (sidongsaeng)

Brother-in-law (husband’s side, younger, married, addressed directly) → 서방님 (seobangnim)

Brother-in-law (husband’s side, younger, unmarried, addressed directly) → 도련님 (doreyonnim)

Husband’s older brother’s wife → 형님 (hyeongnim)

Husband’s younger brother’s wife → 동서 (dongseo)

Brother-in-law (wife’s side, older brother) → 형님 (hyeongnim)

Brother-in-law (wife’s side, younger brother) → 처남 (cheonam)

Wife’s older brother’s wife → 아주머님 (ajumeonim)

Wife’s younger brother’s wife → 처남댁 (cheonamdaek)

Sister-in-law (husband’s side, older sister) → 형님, 언니 (hyeongnim, eonni)

Sister-in-law (husband’s side, younger sister) → 동서, 아가씨 (dongseo, agassi)

Sister-in-law (wife’s side, older sister) → 처형 (cheohyeong), 형님 (hyeongnim)

Sister-in-law (wife’s side, younger sister) → 처제 (cheoje)

Husband’s older sister’s husband → 서방님 (seobangnim)

Husband’s younger sister’s husband → 서방님 (seobangnim)

Wife’s older sister’s husband → 형님 (hyeongnim)

Wife’s younger sister’s husband → 동서 (dongseo)

Husband (when talking about him with other people) → 주인, 바깥양반, 주인양반 (juin, bakkatyangban, juinyangban)

Husband (when talking about him with adults with children) → 애비 (aebi)

Wife (when talking about her to non-relatives) → 아내 (anae)

Wife (when talking about her with other people) → 안사람 (ansaram)

Wife (when talking about her with adults with children) → 에미 (emi)

Couple getting married

Terms for your siblings’ spouses

These words will be ones you will perhaps use most rarely, but they could be fun to learn. And you never know when you might need them!

Older brother’s wife (for men) → 형수님 (hyeongsunim)

Older sister’s husband (for men) → 매형 (maehyeong)

Younger brother’s wife (for men) → 제수 (jesu)

Younger sister’s husband (for men) → 매제 (maeje)

Older brother’s wife (for women) → 새언니 (saeeonni)

Older sister’s husband (for women) → 형부 (hyeongbu)

Younger brother’s wife (for women) → 올케 (olke)

Younger sister’s husband (for women) → 제부 (jebu)

Although we saved this list for last, most of this vocabulary will actually be greatly useful to you. We have separated them from the other words as they are difficult to place under a specific section. However, alongside the vocabulary for immediate family, these are the next most important set of vocabulary for you to learn in the beginning stages.

Relatives → 친척 (chincheok)

Parent’s family → 친정 (chinjeong)

Husband’s family → 시집 (sijip)

Child/Children → 아이 (ai)

Son → 아들 (adeul)

Daughter → 딸 (ttal)

Cousin → 사촌 (sachon)

Uncle → 삼촌 (samchon)

Aunt → 숙모 (sungmo)

Nephew → 조카 (joka)

Niece → 조카딸 (jokattal)

Grandchildren → 손자 (sonja)

Grandson → 손자 (sonja)

Granddaughter → 손녀 (sonnyeo)

Wow, that was quite the list! Do you have similar terms for family members and friends in your native language? Feel free to tell us about your family in Korean in the comments – we’d love to hear all about it!

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