Public Transportation in Korea (Vocabulary)

Public transportation is omnipresent in Korea and is faster than driving in most cases. This post gives you an overview of public transportation-related vocabulary that you may encounter and use in South Korea.

대중교통 (大衆交通) public transportation

교통수단 (交通手段)

transportation means

노선도 (路線圖)

route map

목적지 (目的地)

one’s destination

실시간 (實時間)

real time

2[이]번 출구 (出口)

exit number 2

교통카드 (交通카드)

transportation card

Trains (Read more)

기차 (汽車)

열차 (列車)


지하철 (地下鐵)

전철 (前轍)


electric train


first/last train

Buses (Read more)




town bus (ultra-local)

지선버스 (支線버스)

branch (feeder) bus

간선버스 (幹線버스)

main line bus

광역버스 (廣域버스) regional, wide-area bus

시내/시외 버스

city/intercity bus

고속버스 (高速버스)

express bus

우등고속버스 (優等버스)

luxury express bus


night-owl bus




일반택시 (一般택시)

standard taxi

모범택시 (模範택시)

deluxe taxi

대형택시 (大形택시)

large taxi

Other Transportation Means

(자동)차 (自動車)

승용차 (乘用車)


a passenger car

자전거 (自轉車)





(교통수단)을/를 타다

to take (a means of transportation)

A에서 B으로 환승하다/갈아타도

to transfer from A to B

A에서 내리다

to get off at A

교통카드를 충전하다

to reload a transportation card

Vocabulary Notes

환승하다 vs 갈아타다

환승하다 comes from Chinese, while 갈아타다 is a native Korean verb. Both means transferring from one line or means of transportation to another.

기차 vs 열차 vs 전철

기차 (汽車) is any diesel-, electricity-, or steam-powered train that carries passengers or goods. The terms 열차 and 기차 are interchangeable. 전철 (前轍) is a 기차/열차 powered by electricity (電). While KTX is technically a type of 전철, 전철 is more commonly used to talk about trains within cities and suburbs of a metropolitan area (for example, the subways and trains within Seoul Metropolitan city). Strictly speaking, 지하철 (地下鐵) means underground train (as in subway), but people from large cities (e.g., Seoul, Busan), as well as younger people in general, tend to use the term 지하철 to talk about any type of 전철, even overground trains (지상철, or 地上鐵, a word barely used in day-to-day Korean). Therefore 지하철 may be heard more commonly in urban areas and 전철 more commonly in suburban or rural areas. Read more about the different train services in South Korea.

Sentence Examples

서울역에서 (당고개행) 4호선으로 환승하세요/갈아타세요.
Please transfer to Line 4 (bound for Danggogae) at Seoul Station.
티모니 카드에 2만원을 충전해 주세요.
Please add 20,000 won to my T-Money card.

See also