Not so typical, yet common phrases in Korean dramas – PART 2

[Note: I didn’t include romanization in this post because 1. I’m really bad at it and 2. this post is targeted at intermediate Korean language learners. Thank you for your understanding 🙂 !]

After part 1, here’s part 2 of my common drama phrases series, so without further ado, let’s get right into it:


Let’s start with a rather easy one. I’m sure everyone who’s watched at least one Korean movie or drama episode has come across “괜찮아”. The verb 괜찮다 means “to be okay, alright” and is one of the most commonly found words in the Korean language. As verb endings are innumerable in Korean, 괜찮다 is used in all kinds of forms. Apart from the standard “괜찮아” form, “괜찮겠어?” can be heard fairly often as well. Since “-겠어” is a future tense, “괜찮겠어?” can literally be translated as “will you be alright?”. Let’s say, for example, that our hero and his friend are being attacked by an evil creature. The hero knows that he doesn’t have much time to save his girlfriend from being pushed down a cliff by his loathed enemy. His friend notices the desperate look on our hero’s face and tells him to go and save his lover. Our hero, who is aware that if he leaves now, his friend will have a hard time fighting off the evil monster all by himself, asks “괜찮겠어?” to see if his friend is 100%  sure about his decision. As expected, his loyal friend nods and our hero rushes to save the love of his life and this doesn’t sound like your typical drama scene at all but, hey, it’s a good example ^^”.

어떻게 된 거야?

“어떻게 된 거야?” is another question that cannot be left out when talking about typical drama phrases. It roughly means “what happened?” and is used when the speaker hears or sees something shocking and wants to know how this situation came into being. It can also be used when you’re curious about the result of an action. If, for example, your co-worker needs to talk to your boss about something urgent and after their discussion you’re trying to find out about your boss’ decision, you would be asking your co-worker “어떻게 된 거예요?” or “어떻게 됐어요?”, which can be used in this kind of scenario as well.

가만히 있다

Next up we have “가만히 있다”. This one might seem less familiar, but it is actually more often used in Korean miniseries than you think. In English, “가만히 있다” would be “to hold still” or “to keep still”. As you can guess from its meaning, this phrase can usually be found in scenes where somebody is threatening someone else. If our hero tells his enemy that he will reveal is real (and evil) identity, the enemy will respond by threatening to hurt our hero’s precious girlfriend, so he should better “stay still” or else something bad might happen.

그 말이 돼?

And last but not least, we have “그 말이 돼?”. This phrase means something like “how is that possible?” or “does this even make sense?” and is a rhetorical question used to show your disbelief about something someone said earlier or taking it even further, dismiss it as nonsense. It is similar to an expression I explained in the first part of this series, i.e. “이게 무슨 소리야?”.

That’s it for part 2! If you want to check out more Korean words, here is my Korean dictionary design collection!

Till next time,