Complimenting guys in Korean can sometimes be a tricky affair, but it’s not so hard once you have some great phrases at your disposal for diverse situations.
This guide will teach you how to compliment a guy in Korean, while providing a list of 20 Korean compliments for various situations.
These Korean compliments are based on a person’s appearance, and are recommended for male colleagues, friends, and acquaintances that you have a personal relationship with.
These compliments are not suitable for someone who you need to be formal with, such as your boss or teacher - unless you are already quite friendly with them.1 오늘 스타일이 참 좋으세요! (Oneul seuta-il-i cham joh-eu-seyo.) Your style is on point today./ You look nice today.
This Korean compliment lets your male acquaintance know how nice he looks today, due to his great sense of style.
If you want to compliment a close friend, simply change the end suffix to the informal “좋다” (joh-ta) to say “오늘 스타일이 참 좋다” (Oneul seuta-il-i cham joh-ta)!2 머리 잘랐어요? 정말 잘 어울려요. (Meo-li jallassu-yo? Jeongmal jal-eo-oollyu-yo) Did you cut your hair? It really suits you!
Did your male colleague get a haircut recently? Ask them about it and tell them that it suits them well. For friends, simply drop the 요 ‘yo’ at the end of each sentence to make them informal.3 이 옷 어디서 샀어요? 되게 멋있다. (Ee ot eodisu sassu-yo? Dwegeh mushidda.) Where did you buy this? It’s very cool.
Notice a new piece of clothing on your male seonbae (senior)? Tell them their new clothes look cool and lead into it naturally by asking them where they bought it first.4 너무 잘생기셨어요. 완전 내 스타일이에요. (Neomu jalsaeng-gishussu-yo. Wanjeon nae seuta-il-i-eh-yo.) You are too (super) handsome. You are just my type.
This is quite a direct compliment to tell a male acquaintance that they are very handsome which can be followed by telling them that they are your ideal type.
While it is not too common to be so direct with giving such compliments or when showing romantic interest in Korea, it could be suitable in certain situations, such as flirting online, or perhaps you can use the power of alcohol as a cute excuse for your forwardness.5 연예인 닮으셨어요. (Yeonye-in Dalmeushyussu-yo.) You resemble a celebrity.
In Korean, this is a common way to compliment someone you think is very good-looking, especially if you think they resemble some celebrity in particular.6 참 매력적이에요. (Cham mae-lyukjuk-i-eh-yo.) You are quite charming.
You can give this Korean compliment to a male acquaintance, a friend or a romantic interest, and is a compliment indicating that they are a very attractive person due to their unique appearance or character.
Don’t worry if you are not attracted to them yourself, you can still use this compliment to someone even if you don’t have any romantic interest in them.7 인상이 참 좋으세요. (Insang-i cham joh-eusae-yo.) You have quite a pleasant face (facial expression).
This Korean phrase can be used to compliment the appearance of someone who you just met, whose face gives the ‘impression of a kind and gentle person’ (insang).
Usually older people tend to use such compliments more than younger people, but you can still use it to let someone know that you got a good impression from them.8 운동 열심히 하실 것 같아요. (Oondong yeolshimhi hashil geot gata-yo.) It seems you work out a lot.
This is a Korean compliment that can be used for guys who are muscular and fit and is an indirect way of saying that they have a great body.9 체격이 좋으세요. (Chehgyuk-i joh-eusae-yo.) You have a nice (well-built) body type.
This Korean phrase can also be used to compliment a guy’s body, by complimenting them on their naturally tall height and broad shoulders.
You may use the following Korean compliments for anyone - acquaintances, friends, or romantic interests, and some can also be used for your seniors such as your boss or teachers as a way to gain favor with them, but be careful and learn to read the room because if you overdo it, you may just end up annoying them!
Also don’t forget to use the more formal suffixes when addressing your higher-ups which usually end with the longer “~ 세요” (seyo).10 우와 이런 것도 할 줄 알아요? 대박! (Oowa i-leon-geotdo haljool a-la-yo? Daebak!) Wow you even know how to do this? Amazing!
Has your male acquaintance just demonstrated a surprise skill that you didn’t know about such as baking a beautiful cake or building a computer from scratch? Let them know by commenting on how amazing it is to you.11 다재다능하시네요! (Dajaeda-neung hashinae-yo.) You’re so multi-talented!
Save this Korean compliment for those super multi-talented guys who are great at many different things at the same time, such as excelling professionally but also being able to speak multiple languages, playing a musical instrument proficiently, while also being a fantastic tennis player. You get the idea.12 와 멋있어요! (Wa meoshissu-yo!) You’re so awesome!
This Korean compliment has a general scope, so it can be used in many situations where a guy has done something especially cool, such as scoring an amazing soccer goal, or perhaps generously offering to pay for the dinner for your whole group of friends.13 능력자세요! (Neunglyukjasae-yo!) You are so capable!
This Korean compliment is for those guys who you think are “Mr. Capable” (“Neunglyukja” in Korean), who are able to get difficult things done easily through their various skill sets or by having the right connections.14 참 센스 있다! (Cham senseu idda!) You have a good sense (intuition)!
This Korean compliment can be used for guys that seem to have a great sense of intuition and usually say or do the right thing at the right time, such as giving that perfect compliment or gift.
This is one of the top qualities that Korean girls want from a guy, to have “senseu” because otherwise they tend to be rather clueless to the subtle clues given to them and often end up saying or doing the wrong thing.15 공부 되게 잘 하실 (하셨을) 것 같아요. (Gongbu dwegeh jal hashil (hashusseul) geot gata-yo.) You must do (have done) very well in school.
You can give this Korean compliment to your acquaintances who seem to be smart and diligent, and who you think are/ were good students in school.16 머리가 정말 좋으신것 같아요. 되게 똑똑하세요. (Meo-liga jeongmal jo-eushin gut gata-yo. Dwegeh Ddokddokhasae-yo.) You seem to have a good head on your shoulders. You’re very smart.
This Korean compliment can also be given to the extra smart guys in your life by letting them know that you think they’re very intelligent.
It is not recommended to make such comments on intelligence for your bosses or teachers though as it is usually rather odd for a junior to make such a statement to a senior.
Finally, we will look at some Korean compliments for a person’s character or personality, which are mostly reserved for your peers or friends, not for your elders or used in formal relationships.17 매우 성실한 사람 같아보여요. (Mae-oo seongshi—lhan sa-lam gata-yo.) You look to me as a very hardworking person.
Use this Korean compliment for a guy who you think is hard-working and dedicated, as it is considered a very good quality in a person in Korea.18 효자시네요. (Hyojashinae-yo.) You are a “hyoja” (a loving child to his parents).
This is a great Korean compliment for those who seem to be a wonderful and dutiful child towards his parents.
This Korean phrase is particularly suitable if you just found out that they recently treated their parents to a nice holiday or that they send money back home every month, etc. Being a “hyoja” is a very highly regarded character trait in Korea.19 넌 참 친절한 것 같아. 정말 좋은 사람이야. (Nun cham chinjeolhan geot gata. Jeongmal joh-eun sa-lam-i-ya.) You’re so kind. You are a very good person.
Let your Korean friend know that you think he is a kind and generous person with this compliment. It can be used for both old and new friends and even romantic interests when you want to express appreciation for how nice of a person they are.20 진짜 훌륭한 분이신 것 같아요. (Jinjja hoollyoonghan boonishin geot gata-yo.) You strike me as a very marvelous (exemplary) person.
This is a very strong Korean compliment that can be given to anyone you think has the character of an exemplary human being, such as someone who gives back to one’s community or does other commendable acts you think are worth praising.
If you want to compliment a close friend or people younger than you, you can use the term “훌륭한 사람” (hoollyoonghan sa-lam) instead of “훌륭한 분” (hoollyoonghan boon), because “분” (boon) is a more formal and respectful term for person or “사람” (sa-lam).
Thus concludes the 20 compliments you can use for guys in Korean! Which one was your favorite?
Editor's note: You can use our free language tool to make your own vocabulary lists, and record your own phrases.