# Lesson 130: Big Korean Numbers

Big Korean Numbers

Vocabulary

Nouns:
수단 = means, way, measure
복리 = compound interest
경고 = warning, caution
면적 = area, surface area
주행 = the running of a car
주행거리 = mileage on a cars
위성 = satellite (or a moon of a planet)
은하 = galaxy
은하수 = milky way galaxy
우주 = space, the universe
우주인 = astronaut
모래 = sand
모래시계 = hourglass
모래알 = a grain of sand
거리계 = some sort of distance measurer
대기업 = large companies
소득공제 = tax deduction
해안가 = area around the waterfront

Verbs:
공제하다 = to deduct
침입하다 = to trespass, to invade, to break in

억 = one hundred million
조 = one trillion
대략 = roughly

Introduction

In Lesson 10, you first learned how to use numbers in Korean. That information was crucial in your ability to count different things in Korean like things, events, minutes, hours, days, months, cars and many other things.

When numbers get bigger, they get more complicated. These complicated numbers weren’t integral to your early understanding of Korean, but they are important. In this lesson, I would like to introduce larger Korean numbers. Let’s get started.

Large Korean Numbers

In Lesson 10, you learned that there are two sets of numbers: Pure Korean numbers and Sino-Korean (Chinese) numbers. In this lesson, we are going to be talking about large numbers – that is, numbers over 10,000. In this lesson, we don’t need to bother with Pure Korean numbers because, for practical purposes, they aren’t used much over sixty or seventy.

Large Sino-Korean numbers are confusing. For English speakers, most of this confusion stems from the fact that “10,000” has its own word in Korean. Let me explain.

There is a word for “1” in Korean and English. It is “일” and “one” respectively.
There is a word for “10” in Korean and English. It is “십” and “ten” respectively.
There is a word for “100” in Korean and English. It “백” and “one hundred” respectively.
There is a word for “1,000” in Korean and English. It is “천” and “one thousand” respectively.

There is a word for “10,000” in Korean (“만”), but there is not a separate word for this in English. We just use the previous denomination “thousand” with “ten” to say “ten thousand.”

When writing out Sino-Korean numbers, everything under 10,000 is contained in one word. For example:

Note that I will be spelling out numbers using words in this lesson. With big numbers, numerals would most likely be used in real life. However, I am spelling out these number-words for you so you can understand how to say them.

1 = 일
12 = 십이
123 = 백이십삼
1,234 = 천이백삼십사

In English, we count in units of thousands until we reach one million. For example:

1,000 = one thousand
2,000 = two thousand
45,000 = forty five thousand
134,000 = one hundred thirty four thousand
999,000 = nine hundred ninety nine thousand

In Korean, they count thousands only until they reach 10,000. For example:

1,000 = 천
2,000 = 이천
9,000 = 구천
9,999  = 구천구백구십구

Once they reach 10,000, the word “만” is used.

10,000 = 만

Spacing between large numerals is done in units of 10,000. Now that we are going to a number larger than 9999, the word “만” should be placed before the rest of the numbers in a separate word. A simple way to think of it is that a space comes after four Arabic numbers. For example:

12,345 = 만 이천삼백사십오

Just like we count thousands, Korean people count “ten-thousands.” This is very hard for English speakers to wrap their heads around. For example:

120,000 = 십이만 – literally means “twelve ten-thousands.”
190,000 = 십구만 – literally means “nineteen ten-thousands.”

Whatever digits come after the 10,000 unit (that is, after the word “만” in the word), there should be a space followed by the remaining part of the number, if necessary. For example:

123,456 = 십이만 삼천사백오십육

We can continue to count “ten-thousands” all the way to “nine-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety-nine ten-thousands.” For example:

1,234,567 = 백이십삼만 사천오백육십칠
Notice that the first word is “one-hundred-twenty-three ten-thousands”

12,345,678 = 천이백삼십사만 오천육백칠십팔
Notice that the first word is “one-thousand-two-hundred-thirty-four ten-thousands”

53,565,453 = 오천삼백오십육만 오천사백오십삼
Notice that the first word is “five-thousand-three-hundred-fifty-six ten-thousands”

99,999,999 = 구천구백구십구만 구천구백구십구
Notice that the first word is “nine-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety-nine ten-thousands”

Remember, spacing in numerals is done in units of 10,000. Now that we have reached “nine-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety-nine ten-thousands,” we create another space in our word.

The number ‘억” is used to refer to “ten-thousand ten-thousands.” Ten-thousand ten-thousands is just a difficult way of saying “100,000,000” (one hundred million). For example:

100,000,000 = 일억

Just a quick note.

10 is referred to as “십
100 is referred to as
“백
1,000 is referred to as
“천”
10,000 is referred to as “만”

However,

100,000,000 is referred to as “일억.” The numbers above do not have “” included in their pronunciation. However, when talking about “one” , you should say “일억.”

Let’s make more complicated numbers using 억:

123,456,789 = 일억 이천삼백사십오만 육천칠백팔십구
143,549,523 = 일억 사천삼백오십사만 구천오백이십삼

The price of apartments in Korea are usually over one 억. This is a YouTube video of me explaining what you would see on a common real estate advertisement in Korea, and the word 억 comes up a few times.

Adding more numerals to “억” is done just like it was done with “만.” That is, the words 천, 백 and 십 tell us how many “units of one-hundred-million” we have. For example:

1,234,567,891 = 십이억 삼천사백오십육만 칠천팔백구십일
Notice that the first word is “twelve one-hundred millions”

12,345,678,912 = 백이십삼억 사천오백육십칠만 팔천구백십이
Notice that the first word is “one-hundred-twenty-three one-hundred millions”

123,456,789,123 = 천이백삼십사억 오천육백칠십팔만 구천백이십삼
Notice that the first word is “one-thousand-two-hundred-thirty-four one-hundred millions”

999,999,999,999 = 구천구백구십구억 구천구백구십구만 구천구백구십구
Notice that the first word is “nine-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety-nine one-hundred millions”

Remember, spacing in numerals is done in units of 10,000. Now that we have reached “nine-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety-nine one-hundred-millions,” we create another space in our word.

The number ‘조” is used to refer to “ten-thousand one-hundred-millions.” Ten-thousand one-hundred-millions is just a difficult way of saying “1,000,000,000,000” (one trillion). For example:

1,000,000,000,000 = 일조

Let’s make more complicated numbers using 조:

1,234,567,891,234 = 일조 이천삼백사십오억 육천칠백팔십구만 천이백삼십사
3,543,454,632,455 = 삼조 오천사백삼십사억 오천사백육십삼만 이천사백오십오

Adding more numerals to “조” is done just like it was done with “만” and “억.” That is, the words 천, 백 and 십 tell us how many “units of one-trillion” we have. For example:

12,345,678,912,345 = 십이조 삼천사백오십육억 칠천팔백구십만 이천삼백사십오
Notice that the first word is “twelve trillions”

123,456,789,123,456 = 백이십삼조 사천오백육십칠억 팔천구백십이만 삼천사백오십육
Notice that the first word is “one-hundred-twenty-three trillions”

1,234,567,891,234,567 = 천이백삼십사조 오천육백칠십팔억 구천백이십삼만 사천오백육십칠
Notice that the first word is “one-thousand—two-hundred-thirty-four trillions”

9,999,999,999,999,999 = 구천구백구십구조 구천구백구십구억 구천구백구십구만 구천구백구십구
Notice that the first word is “nine-thousand—nine-hundred-ninety-nine trillions”

After 만, 억 and 조, the next unit is “경.” 경 represents “ten-thousand trillions.” One “경” represents “ten quadrillions.” It is rare to come across “경” in everyday life, but it follows the same pattern as 만, 억 and 조 in that 9,999 units of “ten-quadrillions” can be placed before 경 before the next unit needs to be used. For example:

999,900,000,000,000,000 = 구십구 구천구백조

You might be thinking that even “조” would be uncommon in Korean. In English, it is quite rare that we talk about things in the “trillions.” However, the Korean currency (the 원) is roughly 1000:1 with the American dollar. Therefore, when talking about currency, it can be more common than you think. For example:

Note: Officially, “” should be separated from the numeral or word when writing it down, as shown below. Most Korean people do not include the space, and therefore it can be seen as acceptable to not include it.

1,000 원 (천 원) is roughly equivalent to \$1 and can buy a can of pop
10,000 원 (만 원) is roughly equivalent to \$10 and can buy a cheap meal
100,000 원 (십만 원) is roughly equivalent to \$100 and can buy a cheap cell-phone
1,000,000 원 (백만 원) is roughly equivalent to \$1,000 and can buy a nice computer
10,000,000 원 (천만 원) is roughly equivalent to \$10,000 can buy a cheap car
100,000,000 원 (일억 원) is roughly equivalent to \$100,000 and can be a big down-payment on a house
1,000,000,000 원 (십억 원) is roughly equivalent to \$1,000,000 and can buy an apartment on the Han River in Seoul.

10,000,000,000 원 (백억 원) is roughly equivalent to \$10,000,000 and is the amount of money the top celebrities or athletes make in a year

100,000,000,000 원 (천억 원) is roughly equivalent to \$100,000,000 and might represent the revenue of a massive company

1,000,000,000,000 원 (일조 원) is roughly equivalent to \$1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars). It might be rare to talk about billions of dollars, but when talking about government debts and spending, figures often fall into the “billions of dollars.” Therefore, it is common to see “조” being used in forms of news when reporting about government spending.

Below are many other examples of using big numbers using the vocabulary from this lesson:

우주 나이는 대략 백삼십억 살이에요
= The age of the universe is roughly 13,000,000,000 years

은하수에 천억 개 넘게 해성이 있어요
= There are more than 100,000,000,000 planets in the Milky Way Galaxy

주행 거리계가 백만 킬로를 넘었어요
= The odometer just went over 1,000,000 km

캐나다 면적은 거의 천만 킬로미터요
= Canada’s land-area is almost 10,000,000 square kilometers

한 해변에 모래알 십조 개 정도가 있어요
= There are roughly 10,000,000,000,000 grains of sand on one beach

거기에 침입하면 백만 원 벌금을 내야 된다고 경고에 쓰여 있어요
= There is a warning that says there is a fine of 1,000,000 won if you trespass/break in there

그렇게 많은 돈을 투자하면 일 년에 복리로 일억 원을 벌 수 있어요
= If you invest that much money, in one year you can make 100,000,000 won from compound interest in a year

해안가에서 살고 싶은데 거기 집값은 10억 원이 넘어서 못 살 것 같아요
= I want to live on the waterfront, but the price of houses there is over 1,000,000,000 won, so guess I can’t live there

정부가 이 문제를 해결할 수 있는 수단을 찾기 위해 2억 원을 쓸 거예요
= The government will spend 200,000,000 won to find a way to solve this problem

삼성, 롯데 같은 대기업은 일 년에 십억 원 정도를 소득공제로 받을 수 있어요
= Large companies like Samsung and Lotte get tax deductions of about 1,000,000,000 won in a year

That’s it for this lesson!