How to Say ‘Excuse Me’ in Korean

Last Updated on May 4, 2021 by 90 Day Korean
Young Asian woman in a straw hat with a backpack, shopping bags, and a map, asking 2 other Asian women for directions

Saying ‘excuse me’ in Korean is more of an adventure than you might expect!

The phrase used depends on the situation, the speaker, and the listener. Once you consider these three factors, you will know how to say ‘excuse me’ in Korean naturally. Therefore, it is important that you listen and observe Korean life to get a feeling of how different words are used.

Here are the ways to say ‘excuse me’ in Korean. We also have a free PDF guide that you can take with you on the go. Check it out below:

Let’s get to it!

Young Asian woman in a straw hat with a backpack, shopping bags, and a map, asking 2 other Asian women for directions

How to Say EXCUSE ME in Korean | 90 Day Korean

Formal ‘Excuse Me’ in Korean

1. 실례합니다 (sillyehamnida)How to Say Excuse Me in Korean formal

This word is used when trying to get somebody’s attention and is very polite and formal. If in doubt, use 실례합니다 (sillyehamnida)because even if you are wrong, at least you aren’t being rude. You can use this word if you want to approach a stranger on the street, for example, if you need to ask for directions.

Example:

실례합니다, 혹시 화장실 어딘지 아세요? (sillyehamnida, hoksi hwajangsil eodinji aseyo)

Excuse me, do you happen to know where the bathroom is?

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Associations for Formal ‘Excuse Me’

To remember this phrase just imagine that to approach strangers in a street (or formal settings) you need your silly ham (pig) to say excuse me for you. Your pig is wearing a suit so you know it’s formal.

실례합니다

Porky Pig wearing a tuxedo

Source: cartoonnetwork.com

Standard ‘Excuse Me’ in Korean

1. 잠깐만요 (jamkkanmanyo)

2. 잠시만요 (jamsimanyo)How to Say Excuse Me in Korean standard

These two words literally mean ‘wait a moment’ but are sometimes used to mean ‘excuse me’. They should be used if you need somebody to move out of your way. For example, you might use them if you are on a subway and need people to step aside so you can get through. They are quite useful, so we recommend learning them shortly after you know basic Korean greetings

As a cultural note, you will probably notice that people often push past others without saying anything. Saying ‘excuse me’ is far less common in Korea than it is in other countries.

Nevertheless, if you want to show good manners then use one of these two words when pushing past somebody. If you need to choose, use 잠시만요 (jamsimanyo) as it sounds less rude when said to strangers.

3. 여기요 (yeogiyo)

4. 저기요 (jeogiyo)

You can shout one of these two words when trying to get somebody’s attention. An example of when to use this would be with the waiter in a restaurant.

5. Titles: 아저씨 (ajeossi) / 아줌마 (ajumma) / 이모 (imo) / 누나 (nuna) / 언니 (eonni) /사장님(sajangnim) etc.

Rather than shouting out 여기요 (yeogiyo), you might hear somebody using one of these words in order to call somebody over.

The word you use depends on the other person’s gender and age compared to you. It might feel a bit strange at first shouting ‘이모’ (imo | literally meaning ‘aunt’) across the room, but if you feel confident then give it a go.

When addressing females, guess low when judging their age as to not cause offense. These words are useful when you need to get the attention of somebody who isn’t in a restaurant, for example, a bus driver.

Example:

아저씨, 문 열어 주세요 (ajeossi, mun yeoreo juseyo)

Bus driver, can you open the door, please?

If you want to use these kinds of words, follow the usage guide below:

이모 = imo | older woman who you are close to

누나 = nuna | slightly older woman (used by males)

언니 = eonni | slightly older woman (used by females)

아줌마 = ajumma | older woman

아저씨 = ajeossi | older man

사장님 = sajangnim | boss / shop owner

Associations for Standard ‘Excuse Me’

For remembering the common phrase 여기요 (yeogiyo), just think of the cartoon character Yogi Bear in a restaurant asking for the waiter with a “yo!

여기요 (yeogiyo)

 

Informal ‘Excuse Me’ in Korean

1. 잠깐만 (jamkkanman)How to Say Excuse Me in Korean informal

2. 잠시만 (jamsiman)

These are the same as the ‘Standard’ versions, except without the ‘요 (yo)’ at the end. Make sure you’re using this with people you are close to and who are lower in the social hierarchy than you are.

Other Situations

In situations where you could potentially replace excuse me with ‘sorry’, then you can say ‘죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida).’

Sorry can be used in situations when you need to ask for a favor (such as asking for a picture to be taken) and would most likely be translated as ‘excuse me’ in these situations. Read our guide to How to Say ‘I’m Sorry’ in Korean for more details.

There are many different ways of saying ‘excuse me’. The best way to learn how to say ‘excuse me’ in Korean correctly is to listen and observe how Koreans use these words. Then try to copy them.

Now’s a great time to ‘excuse’ yourself and practice this expression.

Check out our Korean Phrases list of everything you need and level up your Korean skills!

    17 replies to "How to Say ‘Excuse Me’ in Korean"

    • Avatar for Kaye Kaye

      Hello, Good day!

      How do you address someone who is a year older than you in University? When should you use eonni/nuna to them?

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Kaye! You can call them ‘선배님’ if they’re your seniors. If they’re your classmates and older than you, you should say “name + 씨” at the beginning! ^^

    • Avatar for Princess Princess

      What if the person is younger than you of the same age how fo u say exuse me ?

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Princess! You should still say “실례합니다”. ^^

    • Avatar for mari mari

      how to say, excuse us? like 실례합니다 in plural

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Mari! You can just say ‘실례합니다’. ^^

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