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골치(를) 앓다 seems to mean something like to 'be worried' or 'have a problem', while 골치 아프다 is something like 'have something weighing on your mind'.

From naver dictionary I'm not quite understanding what '골치' means. Is it as simple as it meaning 'worry'? Can the word be used independently to mean 'worry'?

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Not really. 골치 originally means 머리, though today it is almost always used only in expressions like "골치가 아프다" and "골치를 앓다", so I don't think you will see it used independently to mean the same as 머리 either.

So anyway, in the literal sense, "골치 아프다" and "골치를 앓다" basically mean "to have a headache (because of a problem you have)." Similar expressions are: "골 아프다", "골머리를 썩이다", etc.

If you want to use 골치 to refer to a thing or a person that gives you trouble, you can say they are a 골칫거리.

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