Badass Korean

You're cool like Korea... You’re a real BADASS, so learn to speak like one!

Learn some slang from the GreyRat before you become the linguistic equivalent of a 99-pound weakling.

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Indiegogo: Slang for your Seoul


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돌직구 [doljikku] – The Straight-Shooting, no Frills Narrative

안녕 여러분 [annyoung yorobun]. Hey all. My name is Peter Liptak. Author of the first edition of As much as a Rat’s Tail – Korean Slang, Invective and Euphemism (along with my fabulous co-author Siwoo Lee). We’ve been hard at work overhauling and updating the book to reflect the changing times and now that we’re ready to launch the second edition, we need your help to get it published. 

With your kind donations we can not only get this book into print and out to you, but we can add lots of fab new bells and whistles including an eBook, a fabulous set of illustrated flashcards, some killer t-shirts and maybe even a badass Korean Slang App for all you contributors. Please take a look and let us help you to understand Korea and how Koreans think, act and speak. 

  • Main goals = print Book + create eBook + Flashcards + T-shirts
  • Stretch Goals = Screensaver + Audio Book + Interactive eBook + App ++

The Lost Language of the Seoul

Beyond slang, this book (& the project as a whole) is very much about culture, and in particular cross-cultural understanding; it’s about bridging cultural divides and about making friends and having fun; it’s about the poetry of language; it’s about relationshipsdrinking, smoking, partying, texting, swearing and so much more.

Rat's tail in a field of red
필승 [pilseung] – Our resolve

What We Need & Why?

In 2003, we started working on the first edition of As much as a Rat’s Tail and over the course of two years we developed and refined the concept. As language, and especially slang is dynamic and mutable (and because our print run had run out), we’ve decided to do a major update to the book for the second edition, overhauling it’s design, creating a snappy new cover, doing an extensive edit of contents, adding lots of new slang to match the changing times and even developing a whole set of flashcards.

In order to complete all the elements of this project, we need $4,000 to fund the following:

  • Editing, re-editing, copy-editing, translating, proofing, indexing, etc. 
  • Layout design and illustration 
  • Cover design 
  • Flashcard illustration & design 
  • ebook conversion 
  • Quality offset book printing 
  • Card printing (150 Tarot-card sized flashcards in 3 boxes of 50 each) 
  • Killer t-shirt design and printing 


If we can reach our stretch goals, the buffer will go to unlock and fund extras for our contributors: 

  • “Sex Sells” a digital deck of printable flashcards for all $7+ contributors  [if we reach $9,000] 
  • [Unlocked at $12,000] 
  • [Unlocked at $15,000] 
  • [Unlocked at $20,000] 
  • [Unlocked at $25,000] 
  • [Unlocked at $30,000] 

대박 [daebak] – The Fabulous Perks

As seen in the perks column, you’ll get a chance to receive not only our eternal gratitude, but also the fruits of our labor. Take a look:

대박 [daebak] - The Fabulous Perks

대박 [daebak] – The Fabulous Perks

근데, 왜? [gendae, wae] (but why)? – The Impact

Forget about it!

You think you’ll get (understand) the shows, the music, the conversations on the street after studying your prim and proper textbooks or taking tons of classes? No way! Forget about it! Duetgodeun (됐거든)!

From K-pop to Korean dramas, behind-the-scenes classroom chatter to Korea’s fabulous Mafia movies, no formal lessons or textbooks will teach you to talk the talk, or walk the walk. They just won’t cover it! They’ll teach you pure, polite, traditional language; not what they use on the street or in the hallways… not what you really need… As much as a Rat’s Tail is designed to help people to really understand Korea and Koreans, to instantly bridge culture gaps, to make friends and to make your life here easier and more enjoyable.

To do this, you need a guide – and As much as a Rat’s Tail is the definitive guide to all things Korean, beyond the slang, beyond the drinking and the swearing, it analyzes the poetry of language, introduces the characters and the cultural mores, covers the bad words, the fun words, the stuff you’ll really use…

More than just a book about slang, A Rat’s Tail is about really communicating; it’s about bridging cultural divides; it’s about learning and sharing knowledge and experiences; it’s about cultivating mutual respect and understanding; it’s about making friends; and so much more.

Philosophically, I don’t believe in making books that you won’t cherish for a long time… and though there are those out there who have no trouble with throwing together a catchy phase or two and cutting corners just to make a quick buck, this is not one of those books. It’s something that will last, that will entertain, that will inform, and that will look damn good on your coffee table, your bookshelf, or where it will do you the most good – sitting beside the toilet. 

If you haven’t seen or heard of the first Rat’s Tail book, check out a few of our reviews:

Why Korean Slang?

This is the stuff you need to know… like what is a “heol” and why are people always asking me about “the water” at the club.

You’ll get the Straight Scoop with explanations of uncommon words and unusual usage; Culturally Speaking, which gives you the skinny on how Koreans think, speak or act. Plus it’ll teach you how to pick up, break up, make up, or get down and dirty. It will let you find out who’s using you or abusing you, and how to talk about someone behind their back. The expressions covered include:

  • stuff so necessary, it’s like rice 
  • a little something on the side (lexical panchan) 
  • stuff to say (and do) while drinking 
  • spicy language and swearing 
  • sexy things to say 
  • what they say in the halls, not the classroom! 
  • Konglish & more 

Korean is rich with the dynamic linguistic expressions and freshly coined language. A Rat’s Tail dives into the intricacies of modern Korean slang introducing the hip, hot, spicy and sexual; the irreverent and inspiring; the cultural, crass and comical; the Korean not covered in the language books, full of color and infused with philosophy.

With As much as a Rat’s Tail in hand, you can impress others with your verbal acumen as you complement their fashion sense, dish out dirty words, or text up a storm, while you gain insight into the mind and culture of the Korean people. And this stuff works both ways – this book is great for Koreans to learn English while having fun with their own language and learning what outsiders get from their culture.

Korean Slang Rat's Tail header with grey rat dancing gangnam style

Getting down with the Rat and all that jive!

What is this Rat’s Tail; this 쥐꼬리만큼 [chui-ggo-ri-man-keum]?

Years ago, when hailing a cab in front of the American army base near Itaewon, a fellow foreigner was getting out of the car. He was speaking Korean rather fluently to the driver. “Wow, you speak Korean well,” I said to him, to which the stranger replied, “chui-ggo-ri man-geum (As much as a Rat’s Tail),” and expression equivalent to “a measly amount” or “hardly at all.” I was taken with the easy confidence of the expression, and have loved the phrase ever since.

Every time I get into a taxi and speak a little Korean, the driver says, “Oh, you speak Korean so well!” A modest chui-ggo-ri mam-geum always earns a smile and bridges the cultural divide. Instantly, we’re comrades.

Why me and why write about slang?

When I came to Korea, so many years ago, I got off the plane and navigated through the first days of my job here as an English Teacher without knowing a single word of Korean. Still I made friends and got a phrasebook to try to learn a few things. But during my first weekend, I went hiking on Kwanak mountain with a friend and heard a seemingly familiar word being shouted over and over by an army private holding an M16 and standing guard at a gate near the summit. He was shouting “Shibal, Ssibal…” I asked my friend what it meant, and he begrudgingly related that it was not a Korean pronunciation of the Hindu goddess Shiva… In fact, it was the worst word in Korean – 씨발 [ssibal] similar to “you f*cking (so-and-so)” in English, but literally meaning “you will sell your seed.”

Then, in my second week of teaching, a rather unruly student, bordering on insane, started shouting at the top of his lungs during class, “han jaji, du jaji, sae jaji, nae, jaji.” Of course, I had no idea what he was saying, but found out from a co-worker after the class – 자지 [jaji] penis or dick. So effectively, he was counting One penis, two penis, three penis, four…?!

It was then that I knew, those phrasebooks were not enough, and if I was going to learn the language of the street, I might as well help others to do so at the same time.

Peter N Liptak on the border of North Korea

Chillin’ at the DMZ

Over the years since, I fell in love with the Korean culture, continued writing poetry and even began translating some early modern poets into English. I did an MA in Korean Studies at Yonsei University’s GSIS, worked as a travel reporter exploring the countryside, and started writing for Samsung, LG, and even the Korean Government, where I helped the city of Seoul to win the 2010 World Design Capital competition.

As an author I’ve published several books including the children’s books Teddy’s Day and Teddy’s Camp; an ESL series called Idiom Attack; the poetry of Letters – Building an Alphabet with Art and Attitude, and even published the translation of Ha Tae Kyoung’s sardonic Kim Jeong Eun comic, The Great SuccessorA Rat’s Tail has been a continuing pet project as I’ve always been fascinated by language and culture. As such, I have a special love for the work we’ve put into it and I really hope to continue learning and sharing with all of you.

Other Ways You Can Help 

왜 씹어? [wae sshib-eo?] (why you chewing my words?) – Even if you are unable to donate, you CAN still HELP:

Share this page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest… wherever. Help spread the word! Tell your friends, tell your co-workers, tell you shrink – walk in and sing a bar of the The Rat’s Tail Slang Song and turn it into a movement! Because that’s what this is, folks – it’s a Rat’s Tail waggin’ Korean Slang slingin’ movement. 

Not everyone can help with donations but if you like what you see, if you are interested in Korea, slang’s power or even K-pop and Korean drama, please share this project with your friends and families. Above all, if you like learning about new people and cultures, please be a part of this project in any way that you can.

a collage of flashcard pics
Risks and challenges

There are always risks… so many things have to come together to complete a project like this. The biggest challenges we will face are the production costs, and making sure that we print & ship to all of you on time. 
We’re passionate about our project and we’re confident that we can handle everything, though please understand that there may be factors outside our control. We’ll keep you all informed with regular updates, and we’re confident that we can get it done with the minimum of delays.

For more Details
For more details follow our tumblrtwitter, or facebook pages to get weekly sneak peeks of new flashcards. And be sure to check out our blog at

Thanks so much for all the support and trust! 감사감사

Rank & File

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Korean Slang: As much as a Rat's Tail book cover

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As much as a Rat's Tail Korean Slang Flashcards


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