S1 Ep13: Dating stages in Korean

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Vanessa: 13화: 우리 이제 사겨요

Chris:  Episode #13: We are now in a relationship.

Chris: 안녕하세요. 바네사! What are you reading so intensively?

Vanessa: Oh, I’m reading an article about a celebrity I like who has a fling with this male actor.

Chris: Oh really? Is it real or just gossip?

Vanessa: Well. Just 서로 알아가는 단계, getting to know each other.

Chris: Oh, they are not dating yet.  By the way, Vanessa, are there any words to describe the phase or steps before dating in Korea? It seems like dating culture in Korea is a bit different from what I am used to.

Vanessa: Yes. Of course!  There are many expressions but let me tell you about the most used expression first.

Chris: Yes, please share it with me

Vanessa: First of all, we can view dating in four stages in Korea. The first step is 괜찮다, meaning when a person finds another person a little bit eye-catching.

After having a conversation and their feelings towards other increases, then it moves into the next stage관심있다, meaning interested, which an expression that I’m paying close attention to that person with an interest.

Chris: Oh, aren’t 괜찮다, 관심있다broad expressions?  Aren’t these two expressions widely used even in non-relationship situations?

Vanessa: That’s right. Since the relationship between the two is unclear, they can end up as just friends or romantic relationships. So expressions with a slightly broader meaning are used. Just being safe and keeping opinions open

Chris: So what’s the next step?

Vanessa: After that, step three is called “썸타다.” It means that there are some chemical reactions between the two, but they are not dating yet.  Somewhere between the soon-to-be lovers and strongly interested? During the 썸타다, there could be light physical contacts such as holding hands or light hugging. And at this time, the number of meetings and conversation volume increases dramatically between the two.

 It varies slightly depending on the couple, but generally speaking, when people say 썸타다, then this is what people expect or imagine dating in Korea.

Chris: Oh, I heard 썸타다expression before. I heard that word 썸came from the English word Something, as it refers to something between the two.

Vanessa: Yes. You heard it right. Sometimes people say 뭔가 있다, which literally means there is something.

However, this expression of 뭔가 있다 is used when expressing a romantic relationship of others to a third person. “쟤네 뭔가 있는 것 같아” They seem to have something.

When describing yourself or the relationship of a third person, then 썸 타다 is used.  Here, the word “타다” means riding on something like a vehicle or getting on, climbing a hill or a mountain, etc.  Which expresses that two people are on top of or riding a new feeling between each other.

Chris: Oh, I think it perfectly expresses the feeling of a new love.

Vanessa:  Hahaha. Right? Even just hearing the expression “썸타다” makes my heart flutter. And the last step is called 사귀다when the relationship between the two is more than just dating.  They officially acknowledge their relationship with others and carry a sense of duty as a couple to each other.  It means that they are officially a couple.

Chris: Oh, Then it can be viewed as being in a relationship or going out?

Vanessa: That’s right. So when the couple says 우리는 사귀는 사이에요, meaning we are in a relationship. But the word 사귀다 is also used to make a friend, 친구를 사귀다. The actual meaning of사귀다 means to get to know each other and be pleasant to one and another.  Yet, if we use this word, 사귀다 for a relationship, it directly interprets the romantic relationship we know.

Chris: Oh… I See. Today’s lesson was sweet, and it was more interesting as it is used in everyday life and K-dramas.

Vanessa: I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

Chris: Let’s practice some examples with today’s lesson.

Vanessa: Yes! Lets practice!


Chris: 누구를 그렇게 봐?   Who are you looking at?

Vanessa음.. 저 남자 괜찮은 것 같아. 나도 모르게 계속 보게 되. Ummm… I think he’s attractive (literal translation: He’s okay). I keep looking at him without realizing it.

Chris누구? 오! 괜찮다~ 가서 한번 말 걸어봐.

Who? Oh, yeah! Go ahead and talk to him.

Vanessa음.. 그럴까? Hmm… Should I?


Vanessa너 왜 자꾸 걔한테만 잘해줘? Why do you keep being nice to her?

Chris음… 사실 내가 바네사한테 관심있어. Hmm… Actually, I’m interested in Vanessa.

Vanessa뭐라고? 대박! 야~ 잘해봐~ What? Great! Hey, good luck!


Chris저 둘 뭔가 있는 것 같아. 쟤들 사귀니? I think there is something between the two. Are they dating?

Vanessa그치? 나도 같은 생각했어. 아무래도 둘이 썸 타는 것 같아. Right? I thought the same. I think the two of them are having a fling

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