Here are some strange and funny Korean signs and pictures I’ve managed to snap during my time living in Korea. One of the joys of living in Korea is spotting the strange, unusual, and often confusing images and words that are meant to entice people in, but might actually put you off. From sexy eels, to befuddling ‘Konglish’ phrases, these pictures will show you a different side to Korea.
It’s a real treat to find funny Korean signs and they always bring a smile to my face. I wish I could snap some of the hilarious messages I see on people’s clothes here as they are often very bizarre (or outright rude!).
If you’re walking around the fashion markets of Hongdae or Namdaemun, you’ll be able to find lots of different uses of Konglish.
What is Konglish?
Konglish is a portmanteau of Korean and English that is used to describe English words that are used in Korea that don’t end up with the same meaning in their original language (English).
‘Skinship‘ doesn’t mean anything in English, but in Korean it’s used to describe friendly, close physical contact between two people, usually of the same sex. For example, two men hugging or holding hands – which is a much more common sight in Korea than in the West.
Konglish is also used to describe nonsense sentences that have been really badly translated. You’ll definitely find a lot of these funny Korean signs with this form of Konglish. In fact, some of these pictures you probably won’t understand at all.
Please note: I’m not criticising Korea’s great attempt to adopt English as a second language, I’m happy that the country wants to become more international. These pictures are just for a giggle and I hope everyone can enjoy them.
I’ll do my best to provide some context to the pictures to help you learn more about Korean culture and why these signs might not be so weird to Koreans (but are to outsiders).
If you’re keen to learn more about life in Korea and some interesting facts about the country, here’s a couple more articles you might like to read later:
Warning: Some of these pictures might not be safe for work / children.
Korea doesn’t always know to censor foreign swearwords – which has led to a lot of laughs for me, but might offend some people.
Now let’s start with 3 of my favourite Korean signs. These are funny to me and I hope you enjoy them (and the rest), too.
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My Favourite Funny Korean Signs And Pictures
Here are my top 3 favourite funny Korean signs that I’ve discovered during my 5+ years in Korea. These might not be the funniest of the lot, but they’re funny to me because of where I saw them or what they mean to me.
1: Wear It With Pride
This is one of the first funny images that I saw in Korea and it definitely made me laugh out loud. I wish I’d bought it! Strangely enough, I’ve not seen many people wear this badge in public. Would you?
2: The Struggles Of An English Teacher
I spent 5 years teaching English in Korea with EPIK and I’ve seen some great examples of Konglish (that I won’t share here), as well as some inspiring and wonderful uses of the English language. Learning a language is an uphill struggle and seeing ‘English’ exercise books like this just makes me want to face palm. Hellow?
3: Watch Out For The Headman:
One thing I love about Konglish signs is that they often have some very strange word choices. This is usually because they’ve used Google to translate their signs or they learnt English from classic English novels. Either way, be sure not to trifle on the bridge with the children or the headman will be after you!
Now, here are the rest of the funny Korean signs. I’ve tried to group them into a few categories / themes as you’ll often find these signs in similar places, such as in clothes shops, markets, and when out hiking in Korea. Or they can appear randomly, which is the best surprise and can really make your day.
Fashion Mistakes: Amusing Korean Clothes
One of the most common places to find random English words is in a clothes shops. Whether you’re in a department store, or browsing one of the many fun traditional markets in Korea, you’ll probably find one or two examples of Konglish. Hongdae is a great place to see them if you’re in Seoul.
There are a LOT of other hilarious slogans and messages on Korean clothing that I wish I’d been able to take pictures of. Sadly, it would have seemed very strange to walk up to random Koreans to ask for a picture of their Konglish clothing… Still, I managed to get a few, and here they are.
Warning: Some of these are not safe for work / children.
4: Why So Angry?
Korean baseball hats come with a lot of attitude and these pics show it. This is a rude parody of Comme Des Garcons. I much prefer this sentiment and I kind of wish I’d bought the hat from this kid when I saw it.
5: Rage Against The Machine
Another import that was probably picked up by a lot of kids in Korea who like the style but have no idea what it means (or maybe they do?). A good way to make a silent protest in Korea.
6: Where Are You From?
It looks like the work of Daniel Jonas made it to this bootleg market in Seoul. I wonder if the locals will pick up this expression and use it when they travel to the USA?
6: Do You Feel Thoughful?
Even though I use though a lot, can I really be said to be thoughful? Full of though? There are countless Konglish slogans like this on jumpers and t-shirts in Korea – some random word pairings, others made up words that were probably meant to be others.
7: What Are Vetements?
I feel like someone typed a bunch of random sentences into a translation app and then copied them into one weird, weird, paragraph to get this bizarre Konglish sign. The writer is clearly very thoughful.
8: Those Guilty Parties Ruin Everything
Taken on the move in Daejeon, these jackets are great and have a range of obscure messages like this one. I have to agree with it, they ruin everything.
9: Millennium Spirit From Hazzy’s
I don’t know if any other Brit’s have seen Hazzy’s clothes around before, but their signs don’t have the dignity and formality they think they do. This funny Korean sign is what you’ll see when you enter their store.
10: Do You Need An Old People Stick?
Found this hiking in Seoraksan National Park. The mountains can be tough so be sure to take an old people stick with you! A walking stick, but only for old people, I assume?
Safety Advice Signs You Might Want To Avoid
Korea is a very safe country, but there are times when emergencies happen and you need to know what to do. Unfortunately, these funny Korean signs show that you can’t always trust the advice you see. Of course, some of the advice is very helpful, especially the one about how to use a toilet. I was struggling a lot before I saw that…
11: Panic At The Disco
This is a sign demonstrating safety measures during an earthquake. Something you definitely don’t want to do would be to calm down. It’s better to rush around and panic, right?
12: Trouser Elephant?
Saw this in a men’s toilet at a hotel on Jeju Island. I’m not sure what they were asking or reminding me to do with this sign. Make sure I don’t leave the toilet naked? Don’t worry, there were no elephants (or snakes) on display that day.
13: How To Use A Toilet In Korea
You can find these signs in many parts of East Asia where squat toilets were traditionally used instead of seated toilets. I wonder how many people were actually using them like as you see in the picture above?
14: Watch Out For Cliff!
I don’t know if this Konglish sign is meant to be a warning or a challenge. Should you approach the cliff, slide over the edge, and then let go? Whatever you do, make sure you walk slowly (or fall slowly?).
15: Don’t Scream And Sing In The Cable Car!
These next two Konglish signs can be found at the cable car station at Daedunsan Mountain. How many people were screaming or singing in the car that made them include this warning in the sign? Perhaps people felt the hills should be alive with the sound of music?
16: No Befuddling, Please
I’ve no idea what word they were translating when they came up with ‘befuddlers’, which is an awesome word you don’t hear nearly enough of these days. A befuddler is someone who ‘makes other people unable to think clearly’. I suppose you wouldn’t want someone like that on a cable car, sure.
17: Do Not Use Outsiders
Expats in Korea (like myself) don’t like to be used, and I’m glad to see someone has made a nice sign to tell others not to. If you want to use outsiders, you’ll have to go somewhere else.
18: No Smorking!
I’m sure you can guess what this Konglish sign is trying to tell you not to do, but the added ‘r’ makes it sound like there might be something else that you can ‘smork’. Maybe it’s the name of a Scandinavian rock group? This image is in the lift in my apartment, so I get to have a giggle from it each morning.
19: No! Do That?
As you may have noticed from the Cliff! sign before, Korean signs have a habit of introducing exclamation marks in the wrong place. This makes me wonder if it’s meant to be a smoking area or no smoking area?
Hungry For More Funny Korean Signs?
The next selection of Konglish signs can be found on food packets, restaurant signs, and on descriptions which may put you off eating what it’s describing. Literal translations of Korean dishes are often funny, and you’ll see them on menus in Seoul all the time. These funny Korean pictures are from across Korea and will show you there’s some very strange translating going on.
20: My Hotdog Is A Narcotic
Junk food is definitely addictive, but I don’t know if I’d ever describe it as a narcotic. Sure, you’ll feel good (or bad) after eating a tasty hotdog, which is what I think they were trying to convey, but probably best not to describe them as something illegally good.
21: Mom’s Love Made Margaret
The love of a mother is a wonderful thing. However, the makers of these Margaret cookies might want to reconsider the alternative suggestion going on here… On a side note, in Korea, things made by mothers are highly valued. That’s why there’s a number of food chains ‘by’ mothers, including Mom’s Touch (fried chicken) and Mother’s Hand (gimbap).
22: I Really Lobe You!
Just one simple letter really changes the meaning of a sentence. This is a common mistake in Korean signs due to the fact that there is no ‘v’ in the Korean alphabet. Unfortunately, this means that you might end up putting beer in your ear lobes… which is a very wasteful way to enjoy beer! I found this funny Korean sign at a bar in Daejeon.
23: Don’t Touch My Sack!
I’ve never seen anyone so possessive about their sack. Perhaps the snack food is there to tempt you away from their sack? Or perhaps they meant to write ‘saek’ (색) but didn’t translate it properly? Whatever happened, it’s probably best not to ask to borrow their sack.
24: Don’t Be So Crude
This is a very odd choice for the name of a bag of sweets and I can only assume they meant to write something else? After all, crude is used to describe someone who is ‘lacking taste, subtlety, or sophistication’, which is an odd way to describe something you’re trying to convince people to eat.
25: Extra Ink, Hold The Cream Cheese
This is from California (my local bakery, not the state) and is one of many examples of very ‘creative’ English that they use to describe their baked goods. I’m really happy they’re trying to make it easier for foreigners to buy delicious foods, but this Konglish sign left me confused.
The ink in this bread is squid ink, which you can find in bread, pizza dough, and other places where you need to make something black. Squid ink is okay, but with cream cheese bread? Are they serious? I wonder what the other version without cream cheese bread is like?
26: I Will Find You…
This Korean sign, from a food truck near Cheonggyecheon Stream, gets on the list because it made me giggle for a different reason. Liam Neeson fans will probably recognise the mis-TAKEN quote here. It makes me wonder, though. Who will be doing the finding and eating? That bull looks pretty angry!
27: Ho Ho Ho!
This plate is part of a Christmas gift set (3 plates) and are meant to spell out ‘ho ho ho’ when they’re together. All family friendly fun as a set. Alone, however, it seems like you might be trying to insult your guest.
Strange Shop Signs In Korea
This last set of signs can be found on shops and restaurants in Korea. Whilst not necessarily Konglish, pictures speak a 1,000 words and some of those words are strange or funny. I’ll explain why for each one.
28: Eely Good For Something
This sign made me do a double take when I first saw it. I thought the eel was lifting weights with his hands… until I looked more closely. If you’re not aware, eating eel is meant to be good for boosting your ‘sexual energy‘ (like oysters). You can probably work out just how effective it is from the picture.
29: Top Of The Morning Calm
I’m not sure if the owner of this bar on Haeundae Beach in Busan is actually Irish, or if they’re simply embracing Irish culture. Either way, it’s the first time I’ve seen a Korean name adjusted in this way and it’s refreshing to see a ‘true’ Irish bar in Korea.
30: Man Chesta United?
This shop owner also seems to be embracing foreign culture and decided to name their shop after the famous English city. Perhaps it was in tribute to Park Ji-Sung‘s time at Manchester United? Unfortunately, it looks like the owner didn’t actually own an official shirt with the correct spelling of Manchester on it.
31: What Is This Made Of?
I spotted this sign years ago in Hongdae in Seoul and I think it was a streetwear shop. Which doesn’t explain the name at all! Knobskin translates to ‘an annoying or frustrating person, somebody who is useless.’ on Urban Dictionary. However, the literal meaning is the skin of… something the eel might help you grow. Want to buy clothes there?
The Best Of The Rest Of The Konglish Signs
I couldn’t quite fit these all into one neat category, so I’ll just lump them all in together. I hope you enjoy these final few funny Korean signs.
32: Football Club Korea It!
Firstly, I’m happy that Koreans are calling football by its proper name (not soccer, not sorry), but why choose this acronym to describe your team? I wonder how many fans have that tattooed on their arm? Maybe they should refer to themselves as the Korean Football Club.
Talking of dodgy TLA (three-letter acronym) choices, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) changed its name a few years ago. No idea why.
33: Faulty Goods
You should probably nun-chuck this in the bin (sorry) as it’s damaged. Or so the Konglish sign on the package tells you. This has so much Konglish I was tempted to buy it and read it every day. I would use it carefully and not aggressively towards people. Unfortunately, I don’t have a shady and management to store it in. Too bad.
34: Are You Babo?
Babo is one of my favourite Korean insults. It means ‘idiot’ / ‘fool’ in Korean and you will hear friends jokingly call each other babo quite often. I’m not sure what this shop was trying to sell with a name like his. Do they want foolish customers? Doesn’t every shop?
35: Kill The Sun!
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss… you might kill the sun? In a country of pro-gamers, perhaps this is sun care aimed at people who are used to getting headshots? I’m not really sure of the meaning behind this Konglish, but it makes sun lotion a lot more exciting.
36: Feed Me Your Pets
You can find recycling bins like this one in any convenience store in Korea. They’re a great way to dispose of your cans, plastic bottles, and… pets? I hope no one is putting their unwanted kittens and puppies inside this bin. I assume they mean PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles and not cute animals that live in your house?
37: You’re Trying Too Hard
What do you think this Korean sign is trying to sell you? A way to live a peaceful life? A new phone or car? How is it possible to contain all your pure calmness? With a reusable water bottle. That’s all. I have it next to me now, so I guess the advertising works.
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A Few Funny Signs From Overseas
I’ve travelled far and wide in my search for a good laugh. Here are a few extra signs that I’ve snapped along the way.
38: What A Happy Mistake
This sign is for a children’s clothes shop in Japan. I hope the kids are very young and don’t understand that their parents think of them as ‘happy mistakes’…
39: Generic Sign
I snapped this picture at the airport in Beijing. It was a very generic shop, selling generic things. I wasn’t really tempted to go in here after seeing this sign.
40: I’m Not A Criminal
This sign, found in Indonesia, makes the list because I find it personally offensive (and still funny), mostly because the character looks like I do after I’ve eaten too much samgyeopsal! I hope no one was reporting me to the police while I explored this place.
Learn More About Korean Culture
I hope you’ve enjoyed these silly Korean signs and had a giggle or two. Korea has a lot more to offer that will interest and entertain you and I’ve brought these together in a few other articles about Korean culture and language. Why not check them out and learn more about Korea and Korean culture? You might be surprised by what you discover.
Found Any Funny Korean Signs?
If you’ve found any of your own funny Korean signs, then please feel free to share them at the Korea Travel Advice & Planning Facebook group or on my Facebook Page. I’d love to see more Konglish signs and share them with the world.
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