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Whose pyun are you on, anyway?

Posted by on February 10, 2016

How’s everyone been?
This is my first new post in two years!
Gonna try a little harder from now on.

Stay tuned!


There are a few ways of expressing the idea of “direction” in Korean: 방향, 방면, 쪽 etc., but the focus of today’s class will be words and phrases derived from the Chinese character 편 (便), which is more akin to the word “side” in English.

This word is used idiomatically as well as in its more concrete sense. For example, as we might, in English, say that a certain building is located “on the other side of the street,” but we could just as easily entreat someone to “Please take my side on this,” so too can “편” be used for the concrete physical “side” or a thing and the more abstract “on my side” style of usage.

Without further ado, here is a list of must-know phrases stemming from this word:


Idiomatic Usage

1. Who’s side are you on, anyway?

도대체 누구 편이야? (“도대체” is a phrase intensifier akin to “what on earth” or “where in the world” etc., but in this case is more naturally translated to “anyway”)

2. I thought you were on my side.

네가 내 편인 줄 알았는데…

3. I’m always on your side.

난 항상 네 편이야! (This sentences functions with our without “이다” attached to the end.)

4. You know I’m always on your side, right?

나는 항상 네 편인 거 알지?

5. I’m always on Dad’s side!

나는 항상 아빠 편!


Standard Usage

1. The opposite side (of the road, lake, river etc.)
건너편, 맞은 편

2. It’s on the opposite side of the road.
길 건너편에 있다.

3. The coffee shop is just across from Shinchon Station.

그 커피숍은 신촌역 건너편에 있다.


The character “편” also frequently pops up in other commonly used words, such as “편애하다 (to favor a certain child or student, to practice favoritism),” “편식하다 (to be a picky eater or to eat a lopsided diet)” and “편 들다 (to take a side).” Here are some examples with those words.

1. 우리 선생님은 항상 걔를 편애하시는 것 같아.
Our teacher is always playing favorites. (Lit. Our teacher always seems to favor that kid.)

2. Favoritism has no place in the classroom!
학교에서 편애가 있어서는 안 된다.

3. I’m not a picky eater. I’ll eat anything!
나는 편식 안 하고 뭐든지 잘 먹어.

4. You always take his side!
항상 걔 편 들잖아!

5. I’m not going to take anyone’s side.
누구 편도 안 들 거예요.

6. 이 논쟁에서 네가 누군가의 편을 드는 게 옳지 않을 것 같다.
I don’t think it’s right for you to take sides in this argument.

3 Responses to Whose pyun are you on, anyway?

  1. Jimena

    Michael 선생님! 정말 감사합니다! 유튜브에서는 higher level 수업을 없는데요. 아주 힘들었어요.이제 부터 이 다 연습할 수 되요.

  2. daisy

    Thank you for what you are doing helping people trying to learn korean. It’s really a big help to people like me. Keep up the good work..

  3. Aung Myint Htun

    Thank you so much and really enjoyed your online teaching.
    It is so great and I will keep learning from this.

    많이 감사합니다.

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