Unlike English nouns denoting kinship or family relations which is pretty straightforward, Korean’s way of addressing family members or relatives differ and to some degree may be difficult to those who are not familiar with the Korean culture.
Kinship terms generally can be classified into two, a set of term which differ according to the gender of the person related and the other set which is non-gender specific meaning common for both male and female. In red are the honorific kinship.
Gender specific terms
|장인, 장인어룬(changing , changineoreun)||시아버지, 시아버님(shiabeoji, siabeonim)||father in law|
|장모 , 장모님(changmo, changmonim)||시아머니, 시아머님(shiameonim, shiameonim)||mother in law|
|아내, 부인(anae, buin)||남편(nampyon)||spouse|
|형제(hyeongje)||오빠들과 남동생들(oppadeulgwa namdongsaengdeul)||brothers|
|형, 형님(hyeong, hyeongnim)||오빠(oppa)||older brother|
|누나, 누님(nuna, nunim)||언니(eonni)||older sister|
Common terms which can be used by both male and female related
- 조부모, 조부모님 (chobumo, chobumonim) – grandparents
- 할아버지, 할아버님 (harabeoji, harabeonim) – grandfather
- 할머니, 할머님 (halmeoni, halmeonim) – grandmother
- 부모, 부모님 (bumo, bumonim) – parents
- 아버지, 아버님 (aboeji, aboenim) – father
- 어머니, 어머님 (eomeoni, eomeonim) – mother
- 아이, 애 (ai, ae) – children
- 아들, 아드님 (adeul, adeunim) – son
- 딸, 따님 (ddal, ddanim) – daughter
- 손주, 손주아이 (sonju, sonjuai) – grandchildren
- 손자 (sonja) – grandson
- 손녀(-딸) (sonnyeo-ddal) -grandaughter
- 사위 (saui) – son in law
- 며느리 (myeoneuri) – daughter in law
- 사촌 (sachon) – cousin
- 아저씨 (ajeosshi) – uncle
- 아주머니 (ajumeoni) – auntie
- 조카 (joka) – nephew
- 조카 딸 (joka ddal) – niece
- 동생 (dongsaeng) – younger siblings
You may also hear 아빠 (appa) and 엄마 (eomma) when kids call their father and mother respectively. This is considered as term of endearment. Koreans are likewise used to calling married man and women with 아저씨 and 아주머니. This is a respectful way of addressing older people.
오빠 is likewise used by girls to call a guy who is close but older than her; same goes with guys who calls girls who are close but older than him as 누나. Boyfriend and girlfriend are likewise called this way. The use of these terms denote respect. So don’t be confused when wathcing movies and dramas, if you hear the stars call their lovers on screen as 오빠 or 누나, this is not incest (to think Koreans are very conservative) but part of their culture.