Quick Tip: Difference between 자다 and 잠들다

Quick Tip: Difference between 자다 and 잠들다

Why, hello there! Welcome to the Korean Language Quick Tip! Does the difference between the meaning of 잠을 자다 and 잠들다 confuse you? Well hopefully not anymore! The key difference is that when you say “잠을 자다” is that you voluntarily or intentionally go to sleep while 잠들다 means that you just feel asleep or dozed off without effort or unintentionally.


So let’s pretend that you were supposed to meet your friend but fell asleep and missed it. What would you text your friend?

미안해! (깜박) 잠들었어! – Sorry! I feel asleep!

Sleeping in Korea

The Korean sleeping culture is very different from what we are used to in the west. First and foremost, in Korea, people will sleep anywhere. The bus, the subway, McDonalds, coffee shops, in class (잠들다 would be a good word to know in this case), and of course at home, in bed. Anywhere! It makes sense though, since Koreans work and study hard they don’t get a lot of sleep at night. Most Koreans I know claim to sleep between 4-6 hours a night. I found it hard to believe at first but it kind of makes sense since they get those extra micro-sleeps all throughout the day.

Koreans, and I would dare say the vast majority, also believe in something called fan death. That is, if you sleep with an electric fan on in your room with no windows open, you might die. There’s a lot to this subject so I would recommend looking at the link to the wikipedia article provided. It’s just so… random.

By Kimchi Cloud