Korean humor dump: The importance of spacing in Hangul

Last month, somebody on Reddit posted a gallery of humorous meme-style images that demonstrated the importance of spacing between key words. 

Korean traditionally didn't use spaces between words as far as I know. Yet this isn't a problem for most Korean readers. In fact one of the milestones I've noticed in my own Korean language study is how I can now more naturally just seem to "get it" when looking at spaceless signs and knowing where the words break up intuitively. I remember this being a big problem for me when I was starting out. 

But of course it's not always fully clear and the ambiguity can lead to some humorous possible interpretations of phrases, depending on where you mentally draw the lines between words. This humor image dump makes use of that. All of these are funny because of the lack of clear spacing that leads to funny alternative readings. 

In the interest of sharing the humor, I've gone through and explained each one the best I can, with what the sign or text is meant to actually be saying, and what a humor-minded individual might read into it. Enjoy.


We start with a 2 for 1 in this image just because it's two seperate images that you'll soon see somehow appropriate go together.

First the shop sign for the 왕자지물포.

The intended name: 왕자 + 지물포 ("Prince Wallpapers and Linoleum")
Accidental name: 왕자지 + 물포

왕자지 is common Korean slang, coming "king" + "penis" into... well, I'm not sure what we'd call it. Huge dick, I suppose. Huge Dick Wallpapers. Nice. 

The other is the shop sign of 털보지업사.

Intended name is likely 털보 + 지업사. 털보 ("Hairy man, manly man") + 지업사 (Paper products supply).
Accidental name: 털보지 + 업사

털 ("hairy") + 보지 (dirty word for "vagina"). 
So... Big Muff Papers? Not half bad in English I guess. 

Here is a message in a restroom asking people not to throw toilet paper or other items into the toilet (common enough sight a few years ago though getting rarer today as plumbing improves).

The funny part is the bottom line: 양변 기가막힙니다
Intended meaning: 양변기 + 가막힙니다 ("Toilet" + "will become clogged")
Accidental meaning: The space is in the wrong spot here, leading to 양변 + 기가막힙니다.

This combines "toilet" with the Korean phrase 기가막힙니다 meaning "shockingly good, awesome, jaw-dropping, bewildering."

In the store, a product listing for 덴터시스테마약한잇몸용칫솔1입.

Intended meaning: 덴터시스테마 + 약한 + 잇몸용 + 칫솔 + 1입 (Dental Systema brand + soft + gums use + toothbrush + pack of 1
Accidental meaning: 덴터시스테 + 마약한 + 잇몸용 + 칫솔1입
Dental System + illegal drugs user + gums + toothbrush

OK this is only mildly funny because it doesn't totally make sense even in Korean but whatever. You're here to laugh, not to think carefully.

Funny conversation between a Dad and a Daughter. Daughter asks if she can borrow Dad's car. Dad asks 어디가또? ("Where are you going now?" in a mildly annoyed tone.

Daughter super cutely answers "in my room silly!" because she interprets Dad's comment as using super-cute aeggyo style talking "Where are you?" ending things in 또. 

Dad spells out with spaces 어디 가 또 so she'll understand what he said, then he complains about her stupidly answering his question stupidly. 

This is more funny in Korean. 

A signboard for the 벗고시원.

Intended meaning: 벗 + 고시원 ("friend/companion" + "dormitory"). I had no idea about the word 벗. Apparently it's a classical Korean word. Anyway, a nice name for the this goshiwon style of public dormitory housing. 
Accidental meaning: 벗고 + 시원 meaning like you took off your clothes and (벗고) it feels great, refreshing, cool (시원해). 

A sentiment I can fully understand.

Now we get to some creepy ones. 

Here's a conversation between a dad and son. The dad tells the kid that 엄마가죽을 스파게티소스병에넣어줬어. 

Dad's intended meaning: 엄마가 + 죽을 + 스파게티소스병에 + 넣어줬어 ("Mom put juk i.e. rice porridge into the spaghetti sauce bottle")

Dad's accidental meaning, exaggerated by the one single space that did somehow make it into the message: 엄마가죽을 + 스파게티소스병에 + 넣어줬어 ("[someone/dad?] put Mom's skin in the spaghetti jar.")

The son is confused... 엄마가죽? Mom's skin? 

Dad specifies 죽, the porridge. The boy is relived and writes it correctly. 

Here's one of my personal favorites. 
A tent or something placed at the 안동시체육회.

Intended meaning: 안동시 + 체육 + 회 ("Andong City Exercise/Fitness Meeting/Assembly/Event"). Some kind of city-wide sports day. 
Accidental meaning: 안동 + 시체 + 육회 ("Andong corpse raw meat")

Disgusting thought but hilarious somehow.

Now here is my absolute favorite. 

We have the KakaoTalk profile for someone's sweet "Mom" with a profile picture of a little spout, and her profile caption reads 해바라기씨발아^^

Intended meaning: 해바라기 + 씨 + 발아 ("the sunflower seed sprouts")
Accidental meaning: 해바라기 + 씨발아 ("fucking sunflower!")

The playful little ^^ of cutesy raised eyebrows makes it even funnier. Mom's got a potty mouth!

An advertisement for a one room (원룸) apartment ensures us that 몸만들어오세요!

Intended meaning: 몸만 + 들어오세요 ("Just bring your body!" i.e. the room is fully furnished)
Accidental meaning: 몸 + 만들어오세요 (Make your body first, i.e. sounds like only physically fit people are allowed to rent here).

Roadway signage for the upcoming 동시흥분기점

Intended meaning: 동 + 시흥 + 분기점 ("East Shiheung City Junction")
Accidental meaning: 동시 + 흥분 + 기점 ("Simultaneous arousal point/spot")

Well I know many women complain that men find it difficult to find this spot, so it's nice to have some clear signage.

Finally, one for the popular K-horror drama era. A signboard for the 한국유아인성교육연구소.

Intended meaning: 한국 + 유아 + 인성 + 교육 + 연구소 (Korean Childhood Personality Education Institute)
Accidental meaning: 한국 + 유아인 + 성교육연구소 ("Korean Yoo Ah-in Sexual Education Research Institute")

Yoo Ah-in (유아인) is the name of the Korean actor who starred in the Netflix hit Hellbound. So I suppose if you're a huge fan of his, this place could be of some interest. 

Hope you enjoyed.