1+1=Buy one, get one free in Korea

By Mitchell Blatt | Korea

Mar 12

Shop in a Korean convenience store very often, and you will no doubt hear “1 plus 1” (in English) sometime when you are purchasing something. Pretty self-explanatory. “1 plus 1” means “buy one, get one free.” It’s a fun phrase and one that shows the popularity of simile English words entering the Korean language.


Then you have Korean words based on English words, like:
bus = beo-seu (버스)
fast food = pae-seu-teu pu-deu (패스트 푸드)
cell phone (hand phone) = haen-deu-pon (핸드폰)
concert = kon-seo-teu (콘서트)

Concert is an interesting word, because the word kon-seo-teu mainly refers to modern music and pop music, while an older, more formal word refers to a concert of orchestra or classical music: oeum-ag-hui (음악회). This word shows the Korean language’s other major source of linguistic influence: Chinese. Oeum-mag means “music,” but the part that is very Chinese is hui, which sounds almost exactly like the Chinese character for event or meeting from which it derives: hui (会).


Back to the topic: Convenience stores are real convenience in subways, where there are often convenience stores within stations, especially along the route to transfer between lines. Another great thing about Korean convenience stores is how many of them have heated containers for hot drinks like coffee and soy milk drinks. Koreans love for coffee means that you can get a passable Americano hot and prepackaged in no time at all.

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About the Author

Mitchell Blatt is a travel writer, editor, and columnist who has lived and worked in China for six years. He is an author of two guidebooks, Panda Guides Hong Kong and Panda Guides China. He has been published in National Interest.org, USA Today, the South China Morning Post, The Korea Times, Roads & Kingdoms, Vagabond Journey, Silkwinds and The World of Chinese, among other outlets. See examples of his published articles.