North Korean Slang

Now, I can why that South Korean with Australian citizenship, Mr. Park, Ki-seok (박기석), got his Linguistics PhD from Kim Il-Sung University.

With the rise in women becoming breadwinners in the family, husbands (남/男便) are now dismissively called “Inconvenient” (불/不便), or sometimes call them “Day-time light bulbs (낮 전등)” –useless. Or 탄재”Tanjae”(타고 남은 석탄재 “leftover burnt coal”), 가을파리 “Autumn Fly” (A Fly, whose pulse is hard to find in cold weather), Puppy “멍멍이” (When the wife comes home, he runs right to the door.)

With the lack of trust in North Korea currency, there are now codewords for currency as well. American dollars are known as 신랑/新郎 “The Groom”, Chinese currency (人民幣)is known as 신부/新婦/”The Bride”, while North Korean currency is called 들러리/”Best ManBridesmaid”. In light of the currency reform in November 2009, where people who couldn’t pay their debts grew, and more scams were on the rise, so did slang regarding this. If a person goes to a restaurant, can’t pay, and then runs a tab 외상, it’s known as “Gratuity/Without compensation” (무상/無償). Deferrments (후불/後佛) is now known as “Haengbul” (행불/行不, as in ”行方不明“/“Don’t know where it goes”). 꾼 돈 “Borrowed money” is known as 번돈 “Earned money”. While the one who accepts borrowed money is known as “Battle Hero”. (Maybe because battle heroes used to receive monetary prizes?)

A person who gives sympathy (인/人을 베푸는 사람), and you want to let someone know to be careful, you tell them it’s a trap (함/陷) –that’s kind of a “duh” one! Anyone who has intentions of lending out money (돈을 빌려주는 배짱), are known as “The End” 끝장

Lately, Party cadres who are in a relationship with married women, and women who have relationships with married men are known as “Interim Lovers” 임시정부 (臨時情夫/臨時情婦), which is a play on the term “interim government” 임시정부 (臨時政府). Having a short stint of a relationship is called “The People’s Lovers/Government” 인민정부 (人民情夫/人民情婦/人民政府), while if they live with each other for a long while, they’re called “Revolutionary Lovers/Government” 혁명정부 (革命情夫/革命情婦/革命政府).

Divorced women are still the breadwinners, but when they’re earning money for their ex’s family, their action is known as “Tears”/눈물, but if they return to the home they came from, it’s known as “Blood Tears”/피눈물 –this one completely escapes me.

If there are any Koreans that have any insight and would like to explain some of the more obscure slang, please let me know.


13=阝12=口 J=丁 (阿)
L=氵 Z=工 (江)
–1312JLZ (阿江)
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