In my continued adventures through K-pop, I've been hearing the phrase "본 적 없는" a bunch lately. http://endic.naver.com is unusually unhelpful - though it references the French phrase "jamais vu", which is in English, apparently "never seen" (rough counterpart to deja vu I guess). Song translations render it as some variation on unseen, so I'm assuming that's what the whole phrase means. However, I can't find much on just 본 적, if that's equivalent to just the single word 본적 or two separate words put together. Which is it, and if it's the latter, what do the composing words mean (if anything)?

2 Answers 2


This can almost be literally translated:

본 is the past tense adjective for (literally) have seen. It is the verb 보다 (to see) with the past tense post-fix -ㄴ. The verb 보다 is commonly used in conjunction with another verb to mean "have tried" or "have done." (Have 'seen' in a very loose sense).

적 can mean an instance or a time.

So literally, 본 적 없는 means "no instance of being seen." Sort of awkward sounding in English, but this gives a feel for the meaning.

We could say "한국에 가 본 적(이) 있어요?" which means "Have you ever been to Korea?"

The usage is VerbStem + 아/어/여 본 적(이) 없다/있다.


적 means a time, or an occasion.

보다 means to see, so 본 적 means an occasion on which something was seen.

해보다 is to try, so 해본 적 is an occasion of having tried or experienced something.

에픽 하이 - Love Love Love is a great song to learn this:

있나요 사랑해본 적 ?

영화처럼 첫 눈에 반해본 적 ?

전화기를 붙들고 밤새본 적 ?

세상에 자랑해본 적?

Have you ever been in love before? Falling at first sight, like in the movies? Spent the entire night talking on the phone? Bragged to the entire world?

(it continues...)


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