As I was trying to explain the concept of Schadenfreude in Korean a few days ago, I began to wonder if there was a specific Korean word that fits this feeling.

The ko.wikipedia article just uses a transliteration of Schadenfreude (샤덴프로이데), but I am seeking a single Korean word that has the same meaning.

If there is no one word, how would I go about expressing this concept of satisfaction coming from the failure of others? In other words, how would I explain Schadenfreude in Korean?

  • may be this? dedic.naver.com/dedic/#search/all/…
    – user17915
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 0:07
  • Your question will be much improved if you explain the situation where you had to explain the concept of Schadenfreude. Any example context? I don't think the answer posted below answers your question.
    – user7
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


Arguably the Korean wikipedia page isn't great, but it says:

관련된 한국어 단어로는 “쌤통”과 “고소하다”가 있다.

"쌤통" is roughly the same as schadenfreude, although this word is quite informal. You would use it as:


그것 참 쌤통이다.

The second sentence would mean roughly "He deserved it." or "I'm glad that it happened to him!"

"고소하다" is originally an adjective to describe the taste of sesame, sesame oil, tofu, or even 된장찌개. (What is exactly the taste being described is a difficult problem... Just try to learn by examples.) But it also describes the feeling of schadenfreude. Some examples I found on the web:

<셧다운에 실추된 美 이미지…'슈퍼파워'에 상처>

유로존 위기에 대한 미국의 '훈계'에 짜증을 내던 유럽은 고소함을 숨길 수 없다는 분위기다.

Europe, having bean irritated by America's "lecture" on the Eurozone crisis, can't conceal their feeling of schadenfreude.

<내게 폭발물 던진 고3, 그래도 용서하고자>

게다가 신은미씨와 그 행사를 주관했던 사람들이 아무런 잘못이 없고 옳다고 하더라도, 역시 극우언론의 왜곡보도에 따라 그 행사가 테러에 의해서라도 중단된 게 고소하다고 생각하는 사람들이 적지 않을 테니까요.

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    I think 쌤통 & 고소하다 meaning has little bit different then Schadenfreude. 쌤통 & 고소하다 has feel punishment. It feel from someone that had sin and somthing unhappy is happened to them.
    – pius lee
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 6:03
  • @piuslee like "you reap what you sow" or "what goes around comes around", you mean? Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 8:28
  • 1
    Yes, 쌤통 & 고소하다 is true if you are looking the someone in "what goes around comes around." situation.
    – pius lee
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 14:10

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