Pronunciation of 성격 & Meaning of 손발이 잘 맞다

I listened to Real Life Korean, a 5-minute Korean lesson on Koreascape yesterday.

0217 Real Life Korean : 손발이 잘 맞다

I noticed that the radio host pronounced the word 성격 (personality) wrongly but the Korean native speaker never corrected him. I guess even if you talk to a Korean, he or she usually doesn’t correct your pronunciation mistake as long as it’s ‘understandable’.

I’ve never met any Korean.

One of my neighbors is a Korean-Indonesian couple. I’ve never seen the Korean husband. I don’t know what his name is and I don’t know how he looks like. The Indonesian wife is not interested in learning Korean because her husband speaks Indonesian and I can’t stand chatting for hours so we just stay away from each other’s lives like good neighbors (?).

From Korean-English Learners’ Dictionary: 성격


It might be the most commonly mispronounced Korean word by foreigners.

Pronunciation of 성격 is [성ː껵]/[seong-kkyeok]. For this word, ㄱ becomes ㄲ and this is called  ‘fortis phenomenon’, according to the King Sejong online course I blogged about before.

Anyway, here is the Korean conversation script from Koreascape:

멜라니랑 같이 일하는 거 어때요?
How is working together with Melanie?

지금까진 괜찮아요.
It’s OK so far.

서로의 성격이 반대라 힘들지 않아요?
Isn’t it hard since you have opposite personalities?

의외로 손발이 잘 맞던데요.
Unexpectedly, we cooperate together very well.

정말 의외네요.
That’s really surprising.

그러게요. 저도 예상밖이었어요.
I agree. It was unexpected for me, too.

Key expression: 손발(이) 맞다. Literally means ‘to have a perfect coordination of hands and feet’. It’s used to describe when people have a good teamwork, can understand each other and work together well, in sync, or on the same wavelength. In Japanese, 息がピッタリ合う.

More examples from Korean Learners Dictionary: 손발

지수와 승규는 서로 손발이 잘 맞아 항상 같이 다니곤 했다.
Jisu and Seunggyu had good chemistry so they always went everywhere together.

가: 너랑은 손발이 안 맞아서 같이 일을 못 하겠어.
We won’t be able to work together because we don’t really get along well.

나: 나도 너랑 일하면 답답한 건 마찬가지라고.
I feel the same way, it’s really annoying to work with you.



6 thoughts on “Pronunciation of 성격 & Meaning of 손발이 잘 맞다

  1. Hello, I am a beginner and I sometimes have trouble even understanding the explanations in Never and Daum dictionary. Do you think this Korean-English Learners’ Dictionary is easier to use? Thanks.


    • Hmm… I can’t be 100% sure whether a beginner will find it easy to use because translation is not provided for the sample sentences in Korean-English Learners’ Dictionary. But the definition in English is pretty clear, I think, and beginner level words are usually not that complicated. I think the stars that tell you whether a word is beginner or intermediate or advanced level is helpful for learners and you won’t find them on Naver or Daum Dictionary.
      It is by far the best online Korean dictionary translated to my mother tongue, Indonesian. Why don’t you go ahead and try it for yourself? Good luck with your journey!


    • Hi! Immersion, sounds fancy. I don’t do immersion. I don’t navigate my life in Korean language only because I’m an Indonesian and I live in Indonesia and I don’t know anyone else in my real life who can use Korean. I still study from textbooks sometimes.


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