The use of modifier in Korean verb is simply amazing. You know how verbs in English can come in different forms too and in Korean modifiers are usually added to the base or infinitive form of the verb to conjugate it.
The modifier 던 (deon) is something that i always hear when Koreans speak. It’s a modifier that is attached to the basic form of the verb which will give the verb the meaning of having done doing so and so. Yes it’s retrospective, so it gives the meaning of doing something in the past.
Based from what I read the modifier 던 when used with simple base have the same meaning with the pattern <verb>고 있었어요 (verb+go isseosseoyo). I remember this pattern very well. Like when you say 먹고 있었어요 (meokko isseosseoyo) it means ‘was eating’. So the simple 먹던 (moekdeon) would mean the same thing. Comparing the two, this is how it goes:
- 그 학생이 여기서 자장면을 먹고 있었어요. (Ku haksaengi yogiso jajangmyeoneul mokko isseosseoyo.) – That student was eating jajangmyeon noodles here.
- 여기서 자장면을 먹던 학생. (Yogiseo jajangmyeoneul meokdeon haksaeng) . The student who eating jajangmyeon noodles or has been eating jajangmyeon noodles here.
So bottomline, these two patterns mean was VERBing. As final note, you may hear this modifier sound like 든 (deun) for some Korean speakers, they also sometimes spell it that way.