Saturday, July 24, 2010

Korean Signs You Should Recognize: Quiz!

I got the sudden inspiration to make a quiz about Korean signs. While living in Korea, you'll find that some signs are written in two languages, but many signs, especially off the beaten track, are only in Korean. These are some common signs you might see around that you may need to know (or not) and will definitely see around Korea. I took all these photos on my walk home from the subway station today.

Take the test: See how many of these you can recognize and translate. Some are easy to guess, others not so much. I've tried to put them in order from easiest to hardest, but it all depends on your personal experiences, of course. Record your results and check your answers in the key posted in the comments page. If people like this, I'll make another quiz with more signs!

1: 호프

2: 모텔

3: 노래방


5: 부동산

6: 주차금지

7: 주차장

8: 보신탕

9: 미용실

10: 세탁

How did you do? Check the answers in the comments!


  1. 1: 호프- HOF, or Korean style drinking establishment. It’s not a place to come and mingle, but rather a place to relax with friends over beer, soju and anju (snacks to accompany your drinks)

    2: 모텔- Motel This one is directly translated from English to Korean. Love motels here are very common, but don’t have quite as bad a reputation as they have in America.

    3: 노래방- Norebang, or singing room. Basically, karaoke for Korea. A place to sing your heart out with friends in your own private room. No Karaoke bar here.

    4:담배- Dambae- Cigarettes. This one’s not important for me, but if you’re a smoker, this might be the first sign you will look for after stepping off the plane. If you see this sign outside a store, it means you can find your smokes within.

    5: 부동산- Budongsan, Real Estate Office. While you might not need one while you’re in Korea, you’ll certainly see 6 on every city block.

    6: 주차금지- Jucha-gumji, no parking. If you’re driving around, this one might be important to recognize. It often is accompanied by another white sign with a picture of a tow truck, so it might be a little more recognizable.

    7: 주차장- Jucha-jang, parking lot. Similar to number 6, if you’re looking for a place to park, you’ll need to remember this one. Parking tends to be in unlikely, or hard to find places in Seoul, so keep your eyes peeled.

    8: 보신탕- Boshintang, Dog meat soup. You’ll want to remember this one, so as not to wonder in by accident. In my neighborhood, these restaurants are scattered about with all the other restaurants, so not recognizing this one could lead to a rather unpleasant surprise if you happen to be one of those folks who aren’t looking to eat dog meat. And, no, you can’t choose your own dog, so the sound of dogs being slaughtered here won’t clue you in.

    9: 미용실- Miyoungshil, hair salon. Everyone will need to get his or her hair cut at some point or another. If you have relatively easy to manage hair, there’s no reason not to go to a normal Korean salon. If you have curly hair or are looking for colors or perms, go to someone who is accustomed to foreigners.

    10: 세탁- Setak, dry cleaners. Dry cleaning is cheap and convenient, so don’t hesitate to bring your clothes here if you want!

  2. 10/10... but I've been here 3 years.

    Reading signs is one of the best ways to build your K-vocab!

  3. What a really cool post!!!! I may have to steal this from you!!

    I got 10/10, natch!

  4. 10/10 - nice post Joanna :) The second round should be of things a little more exotic :)

  5. Excellent quiz. I aced it, 100% [big proud smile]
    -The Stumbler

  6. I'll start working on round two soon. I think I'm going to do doctor signs... those tend to be trickier!