How to Say ‘What the Heck’ in Korean

No matter how great your life is, there are some occasions when you might want to say ‘What the heck’ (or maybe even something a bit stronger). This simple phrase has several meanings: It can be used to show surprise, anger, or even that you are willing to take a risk. This article will look at how to say ‘What the heck’ in Korean. After learning this phrase, be careful not to use it in the wrong situations.

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what the heck in korean

‘What the Heck’ in Korean




This is the most common word for ‘what the heck’. You can use it when you are angry or surprised at a situation. Using this word is a little bit difficult as it isn’t really used on its own. Take a look at the examples below to see how this word is usually used.

formal what the heck

Formal Korean

Formal Korean is used in presentations, public announcements, and interviews. Just like in English, saying ‘what the heck’ in Korean isn’t really appropriate for any of these situations.


Standard Korean

Standard Korean is used when speaking to people who you don’t know too well or who are older than you. These are situations where you probably shouldn’t say ‘what the heck’, but there are some situations where it might be appropriate.



도대체 무슨 일로 그러는지 모르겠어요.

(Dodaeche museun ilro geureoneunji moreugesseoyo.)

I don’t understand what the heck it is about.

informal what the heck

Informal Korean

Informal Korean is used with a close friend who is of a similar or younger age. This is the most common situation that you will want to use ‘what the heck’.



도대체 무슨 소리야?

(Dodaeche museun soriya?)

What the heck are you talking about?


도대체 무슨 뜻이냐?

(Dodaeche museun ddeusinya?)

What the heck do you mean?


도대체 무슨 말을 하는 거냐?

(dodaeche museun maleul haneun geonya?)

What the heck are you talking about?


You can use all of these expressions without 도대체 and they will still have roughly the same meaning, but without the ‘what the heck’ part.



A word of caution about Romanization

All the examples above use Romanization to help you pronounce the Korean words. However, if you want to read and pronounce Korean with ease, not to mention learn new vocabulary and grammar concepts quickly, then the best thing to do is to learn how to read Hangeul. Hangeul is the Korean alphabet, and it is one of the simplest alphabets in the world to master. You can learn it in just two hours. Why don’t you find two hours to learn it today? If you do, then tomorrow, if someone asks you if you can read Korean, you will be able to say ‘yes’!

Now that you know how to say ‘what the heck’ in Korean, use it to spice up your conversations and show your emotions in Korean. Be careful though, don’t overuse this phrase or people might get the wrong idea about you. Also be careful about who you say this phrase to. You don’t want to accidentally start a fight with somebody.

Want more Korean phrases? Go to our Korean Phrases Page for a complete list!

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