Korean Word Games (Seen in Korean Variety Shows)

Screenshot from WINNER "Pricked" poem video
Screenshot from WINNER “Pricked” poem video

Most Korean variety shows, like Running Man (런닝맨), 2 Days 1 Night (1박 2일), and Infinity Challenge (무한도전), are famous for their adventure and survival themes and their focus on physical or sports-related games! But many times, they actually do take a break from the races and instead play children’s games, brain teasers, trivia and quizzes, which are very interesting and are also as fun and exciting!

In this article, I’d like to focus on a particular type of brain teaser found in variety shows and that is, Word Games! I have picked 3 popular Korean Word Games that you can play while studying Korean language. These games are usually played by guest actors or idols in various TV shows! They are also popular among students during trips or family outings. If you are learning Korean, challenge yourself to these games and have fun! I have collected video clips from different shows that will demonstrate how to play and some of them will also give you a good laugh! I added the possible benefits to your study that you can obtain by playing these games! Enjoy!!! 🙂


절대음감, “Perfect Pitch”, Tongue Twister Game

A tongue twister challenge with a twist…!

How to Play:

In the usual tongue twister game, a player repeats a phrase or sentence as many times as possible. The repetition can be monotonous as long as the words are pronounced clearly. But in this Korean game, a 5-syllable phrase is given and must be said five times only. What’s the catch? In each repetition, the emphasis shifts starting from the first syllable to the last. Although this seems hard to do, I think this game can be played by anyone, even by an absolute beginner learner. This game is also usually played as a relay game (…but you can practice reciting the phrases on your own too).

Possible benefits: Improve pronunciation

I found this game in an old clip of Star Golden Bell, in 1박2일/ 2 Days 1 Night‘s Game of Chance Field Trip special (S03E45-47), and in Running Man (2013, Ep.144). The keywords that were given in Running Man were 6-syllable phrases instead of 5, but I listed them below anyway. How many do you think you can do?

5-syllable phrases:

샥스핀스프/ shak-seu-pin-seu-peu/ Shark’s Fin Soup

안돼요안돼/ an-dwae-yo-an-dwae/ No way, no way

잣잡쌀전병/ jat-jab-ssal-jeon-byeong/ Glutinous Rice Pancakes with Pine Nuts

게살샥스핀/ ge-sal-shak-seu-pin/ Crab Meat Shark’s Fin

낭랑십팔세/ nang-rang-shib-pal-se/ Sweet Eighteen

단밤단팥빵/ dan-bam-dan-pat-bbang/ Chestnut Red Bean Bread

괄라룸푸르 / kwal-la-lum-pu-reu/ Kuala Lumpur

김치꽁치찜/ kim-chi-kkong-chi-jjim/ Steamed Kimchi Mackerel Pike

똠양꿍수프/ ddong-yang-kkung-su-peu/ Tom Yum Goong Soup

김삿갓삿갓/ kim-sat-gat-sat-gat/ Kim Satgat’s bamboo hat

6-syllable phrases:

막국수닭갈비/ mak-guk-su-dak-kal-bi/ Buckwheat noodles grilled chicken

왕안흥팥찐빵/ wang-an-heung-pat-jjin-bbang/ King-sized Anheung-styled red bean steamed bun

Watch this clip from Star Golden Bell (ft. SNSD Tiffany, Taeyeon, and Sooyoung!) 


Watch this episode of 2 Days 1 Night (the game starts at 36:48 mark)


Watch this clip of Running Man 


끝말잇기, ”Word Linking Game”

If you are building your vocabulary and you want to test how much you can actually remember, invite your friends to play Korean Word Chain Game with you! I actually play this game with my friends on the language exchange app, Hello Talk! Try it!

How to Play:

This game can be played by 2 or more players. To start the game, pick a first word. The first player must take the last syllable of that word and give a new word that starts with that syllable. The next player must do the same, and simply give a new word that starts with the last syllable of the previous word. There are no strict rules about which words are not acceptable. But a word cannot be repeated in the same round. A player loses if he/she repeats a word or takes too long to come up with a new word.

Possible Benefits: strengthen memory by forcing to recall words, build vocabulary by learning from opponent’s turns.

In the next clip of 1박2일/ 2 Days 1 Night, the members decided to accept 3-syllable words as answers and allow the use of proper names. While in the clip of 아빠! 어디가/Dad! Where are we going?, the fathers were lenient and allowed the children to use English words.

Words used in 1박2일, in sequence:

우-리-집 (our house)
집-배-원 (mailman)
원-시-인 (primitive man)
인-사-동 (Insa-dong, a district in Seoul)
동-아-리 (club/group)
이-효-리 (Lee Hyori, singer)
이-발-소 (barbershop)
소-방-서 (fire station)
서-효-림 (Seo Hyorim, actress)
임-꺽-정 (Im Kkeok-jeong, famous thief in 1500’s)
정-두-홍 (Jeong Doo-hong, actor)
홍-두-깨 (Hong Doo Kkae, manhwa)
깨-방-정 (silly act/jokingly)
정-도-전 (Jeong Do Jeon, Korean historical figure/politician)

Watch clip of 1박2일/ 2 Days 1 Night’s Word Chain Game


Watch clip of 아빠! 어디가’/Dad! Where are we going?s Word Chain Game


 삼행시, ”Three-Line Poem”

삼 means 3,행 means line or row, and시 means poem. These are basically the same as English acrostic poems, where the first letters in every line spell out a specific word or a phrase.

How To Play:

Korean Three-Line Poem starts with a 3-syllable keyword and the first player is challenged to make 3 sentences, each beginning with the 3 syllables in the keyword. The 3 sentences should make sense together, so this game is the perfect exercise for sentence construction and comprehension. The player with the best poem wins! This game can also be played with 2, 4, or 5-syllable keywords (and the name changes accordingly to 이행시, 사행시, or 오행시).

Since Korean names are usually composed of 3-syllables/words, they are commonly used as keywords for 삼행시.

Possible Benefits: improve sentence construction, boost recall of grammar rules and vocabulary

Park Myungsoo was popular for creating 3-line poems during his time at the variety show called X-Man. Up until now, he’s known for that skill. I found a few videos of him on Youtube, but the clips are hard to transcribe for me. He came to Running Man as a guest with IU (Ep 168), and he was teamed up with his former X-Man members Haha and Kim Jungkook, and so they made up 3-line poems for old times’ sake. Watch here.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope you get to try one of these games soon!


For now, I’d like to leave you all with these fun clips of Big Bang and Winner demonstrating how (or at least trying) to make 삼행시!

GD, keyword: 광저우/Guangzhou

: 광팔아요 (Sell lights)
: 저한테요 (to me)
: 우~ (Ooooh)

Seungri, keyword: 광저우/Guangzhou

: 광주에서 자랐어요 (I grew up in Gwangju)
: 저요 (me)
: 우~ 베이비~ (Ooh baby…)

TOP, keyword: 베이징/Beijing

: 베이징 U LIKE? (Beijing U like?)
: 이힝 U LIKE? (I~hing~ U like?)
: 징글 징글 U LIKE? (Jingle jingle U like?)

Watch Big Bang’s Daesung create a 삼행시; Keyword: “Singapore”


Watch this Big Bang’s 삼행시 compilation; Keywords: “Guangzhou”, “Beijing”, “Hong Kong”


Watch Winner’s 사행시 (4-line poem); Keyword: 사랑가시 “Pricked” –> HERE

Song Mino:
사: “사랑가시”가 곧 나옵니다, 여러분. 사랑가시를 너- (‘Pricked’ is coming out soon, everyone. ’Pricked’…)
랑: -랑 듣고싶어 (…with you, I want to listen to it)
가: 같이 들을래? (Want to listen to it together?)
시: 싫음 말고 (If you don’t like to, you don’t have to)

Nam Taehyun:
사: 사랑은 (Love is)
랑: 랑랑하게 (loudly and clearly)
가: 가슴으로 (from the heart)
시: 시 낭송하뜻 부르는 노래입니다. (is a poem to be recited, a song to be sung.)

Kang Seungyoon:
사: 사랑합니다 (I love you)
랑: (당)랑관 (mantis kung-fu!)
가: 가라 (Taehyun: just go)
시: *skipped letter

Kim Jinwoo:
사: 사랑해! (I love you)
랑: 랑앙앙 (Rang-ang-ang)
가: 가지마… 나가지마 (Don’t go, don’t leave)
시: 시간이없어! (Seungyoon: There’s no time!)

Lee Seunghoon:
(to the tune of Big Bang’s Bae Bae, TOP’s verse)
사: 사슴같이 예쁜 눈 나의 (Your pretty eyes like a deer’s, my)
랑: 랑세스 (~Rang-cess)
가: 가를 보고 비웃는게 너무 (The way you laugh at him, you are so)
시: 시크해 (Chic)


Have you ever played any of the Korean Word Games you saw on variety shows? Let us know in a comment below!

One thought on “Korean Word Games (Seen in Korean Variety Shows)

  • October 11, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    This is fantastic!!! I included a link on my website to this page so I can use it as a resource later. I teach ESL in the States, and in the last year I’ve watched countless hours of 2 Days 1 Night. After a while, I realized I could use many of their word games in my class to help my students practice English. I found your site while searching for the name of one I’ve seen 2D1N play a couple of times and that I’ve used in my class. They slap, clap, and snap their hands/fingers and chant a five-syllable phrase (maybe the name of that game?), then invent a sentence. The next person has to repeat what the others said and then insert a new sentence. Do you know the name of this game? My description is lacking, but that’s the best I can do…

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: