I first came across the Korean slang 손절 while watching 알랑말랑 a not-so-great webdrama but with easy enough conversations for me to be able to follow with just the audio + Korean subtitles. Webdramas are a good chunk of my current self-studying routine and I have to say that while the storylines are often cliché as heck, they still pack enough vocabulary – and oftentimes slang as they tend to star high school or college aged characters – to be useful and interesting (as a study material!) to me.
Looking it up had me even more interested as its roots are linked to an industry I’ve previously worked in: cryptocurrency. And I sure as hell didn’t expect that to come up in my Korean studies.
손절 is made up of 손해 (damage, loss) and 절단하다 (to cut off) = cut off before loss = sell your stock/whatever before loss happens
Used by traders in financial markets, it also became popular amongst cryptocurrencies enthusiasts in Korea when they wanted to talk about cutting their losses and selling whichever coin was not performing well at the time. Korea is one of the biggest markets for cryptocurrencies, especially for Bitcoin, and the 2018 worldwide
gold rush didn’t skip Korea.
However, this slang soon came to have different uses and one that’s still used today is: to cut off someone from one’s life / to end a relationship. It can used either for friendships or romantic relationships.
A look at Pann forums brings up a lot of results for 손절 related questions:
친구 손절해야 할까?? Should I cut off this friend??
손절한 친구랑 다시 연락해볼까 Should I recontact this friend who cut me off?
친구 어떻게 손절함..?? How to cut off a friend..??
And so on! I’m sure that now that I’ve learned it, I will see it appear a lot more often in web/kdramas as is often the case with words I add to my vocabulary!
Leaving you with one example of the #1 type of friend you have to cut off, that kept popping up on Naver images while researching for this post:
Quick “how have you been” exchange then white asks “is there any way you could lend me 200,000 won?” Yikes.
Previous Korean slang posts: