KOREA NEWS The Ultimate List Of Korean Phrases & Words You...

The Ultimate List Of Korean Phrases & Words You Should Know In 2023


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Image credit: LJ Mears/Flickr

As the Hallyu effect has taken over the world, it’s no surprise that South Korea is on the travel radar of many. While bingeing K-dramas and K-pop may have taught you a few words like saranghe and yobo, our guide to essential Korean phrases is here to enhance your travel experience. Whether you’re greeting people, asking for directions, seeking a vegetarian menu, or offering an apology, this language guide provides a plethora of practical phrases that will not only assist you in navigating daily situations but also open doors to authentic experiences, allowing you to connect with the vibrant vibe of Korea.

It is noteworthy that Koreans use different verb conjugations to convey varying levels of respect, based on who they are speaking to. For travellers in Korea unfamiliar with the language, using either the polite or formal form of communication is generally acceptable. 

Korean for travellers: List of essential Korean phrases

Korean phrases for travel
Image credit: Craig Rohn/Flickr
  • Hello: An-nyeong-ha-se-yo

The most common way of greeting someone, is applicable at any time of the day. This can also be used as a response. 

  • Goodbye: An-nyeong-hi ga-se-yo

When someone is leaving before you. 

  • Goodbye: An-nyeong-hi gye-se-yo

If you are leaving first and want to bid farewell to the others.

  • Yes: Ye
  • No: A-ni-yo
  • I don’t know: Mol-la-yo

A casual but polite way of conveying a lack of information about a certain topic.

  • Thank you: Kam-sa-ham-ni-da

A formal way to express gratitude, particularly suitable for interactions with strangers. 

While there is no direct translation for ‘please’ in Korean, using this phrase adds politeness when ordering food or asking for directions.

Korean phrases
Image credit: zequn gui/Unsplash
  • Excuse me: Jam-shi-man-yo

When you need somebody’s attention or want them to get out of your way.

A versatile apology suitable for various situations, both formal and informal.

  • It’s ok/Never mind: Gwaen-chan-ayo

Use it to console someone or indicate everything is alright.

A general honorific to convey respect, regardless of marital status or gender. 

  • How are you: Eott-eoh-ge jina-ese-yo

A common greeting when meeting someone or entering a store.

  • Nice to meet you: manna-seo banga-woyo

A standard and less formal way of greeting someone, applicable at meetings. 

  • I’m sorry: Chway-seong-ham-ni-da

The most formal way of apologising in Korean. 

Use to ask for directions or the exact location of a place by adding the name at the end.

  • I’m lost: Gil-eul ilh-uht-suh-yo

If you are unable to find your way, use this phrase to ask for help.

  • How much is it: Eol-ma-ye-yo

Perfect for shopping in places without price tags, such as flea markets or Korean local shops. 

Korea phrases
Image credit: mathew schwartz/Unsplash
  • Yesterday: Eo-je
  • Today: Oh-neul
  • Tomorrow: Nae-il
  • Help me/I need help: Do-wa-ju-se-yo

A polite way of asking for help from a local.

  • I need a doctor: Ui-sa-ga pil-yo hae-yo
  • Police station: Gyeong-chal-seo
  • Bathroom: Hwa-jang-sil

Use this when you are looking for a toilet. Use ‘Yok-shil’ if looking for a bathhouse.

Inquire about buses. As for the bus stop, use ‘beo-seu jeon-gly-ujang’.

High-speed trains are referred to as KTX in Korea. Simply say KTX if that’s where you are headed.

  • Subway: Ji-hae-chol
  • Ticket: Pyo
  • Do you have a vegetarian menu: Chae-sig men-yu iss-eo-yo?

Use this to indicate your preference for meat- and egg-free dishes when dining out. 

(Feature image credit: LJ Mears/Flickr)

Related: The Most Beautiful Places To Visit In South Korea

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

-What are some common Korean words for beginners?
Here are some essential Korean phrases for beginners:

Hello: An-nyeong-ha-se-yo
Yes: Ye
No: A-ni-yo
Thank you: Kam-sa-ham-ni-da
Please: Ju-se-yo
Excuse me: Jam-shi-man-yo

-How do I greet someone in Korean?
To greet someone in Korean, say “An-nyeong-ha-se-yo”, which means “hello”.

-What is the polite way to say “thank you” in Korean?
Politely thank someone in Korean by saying “Kam-sa-ham-ni-da”.

-How do I ask “How are you?” in Korean?
To ask “How are you?” in Korean, say “Eott-eoh-ge jina-ese-yo”.

-How do I apologise in Korean?
When you want to apologise in Korean, say “Mi-an-hab-ni-da”.

-What are common dining phrases in Korean?
Some common dining phrases in Korean include: 

Do you have the menu in English: Yeongeoro doen menyupan innayo?
Is this very spicy: Geo mani maewoyo?
What do you recommend: Eotteon geo chucheonhasinayo?

-How do I ask for directions in Korean?
Ask for directions in Korean by saying Eo-di-ye-yo and adding the name of the place at the end.

-How do I count in Korean?
Here are the numbers 1 to 10 in Korean:

1 – Hana
2 – Dul
3 – Set
4 – Net
5 – Dausut
6 – Yeosut
7 – Ilgup
8 – Yeodul
9 – Ah-hope
10 – Yuhl

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