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In this lesson, we’re going to show you how to say “hello” in Korean.
Learning how to say “hello” in Korean helps you make friends, greet acquaintances, and seem like an overall warm and friendly person! It’s very likely one of the words that you will use most often when visiting Korea or speaking Korean.
There are multiple ways of saying it, and not all of them are polite. Here are the three most common ways that you’ll hear this greeting:
English 한국어 (Korean) Formality Hello 안녕하십니까 (annyeonghasimnikka) Formal Hello Standard Hello 안녕 (annyeong) Informal
Remember that Korean is a hierarchical language. That means you need to use the proper formality level or you can come off as offensive for being too casual, or too formal to people you know.
Below, we’ll show you which phrase you should use and which ones to avoid. Let’s get to it!
This lesson is written using both Hangeul (the Korean Alphabet) and in romanized English. You don’t need to know Hangeul to read the words, but it will help you with pronunciation of you plan to learn Korean.
We have a free PDF guide for how to say “hello” in Korean that you can take with you on the go. Check it out below:
Get ready. This lesson is going to take you through some of the different ways to say “hello” in Korean!
The Korean word for “hello” changes based on who you are speaking with. This is because there are different ways of speaking depending on where you fall in the social hierarchy. Generally speaking, the more formal versions of the words are longer whereas the informal versions are shorter and simpler.
Sound complicated? Not to worry! We’ll simplify it for you so you can learn the most common ways to say “hello” in Korean.
We’ll also explain some other greetings you might hear so you can be prepared to start speaking with Koreans–in Korean!
“Hello” in Korean – Formal Language
1. 안녕하십니까? (annyeonghasimnikka)
This form of “hello” is often used in announcements, speeches, or on the news in Korea. It is a way of saying “hello” using formal language. You would use 안녕하십니까 (annyeonghasimnikka) when you want to show high levels of respect to the other person.
Note that this is actually a question. You may hear it said as a statement or a question. If you’re asking it as a question, you should have an upward intonation at the end of the word. When somoeone greets you using this expression, you can reply with 안녕하십니까 (annyeonghasimnikka).
Pronunciation tip: In the 4th syllable, the final consonant sound is similar to “m”, instead of “b”. When followed by an ㄴ, the ㅂ letter sounds like an ‘m’ rather than a “b.”
Associations for Formal “Hello”
Since Korean words can be challenging to remember, we often make associations to help remember Korean vocabulary and phrases. An association is a story you use to help remember a word or phrase.
Let’s use an association to help remember this phrase. Imagine a character named “Ann Young“. She is giving a speech for a formal event, and has a sneaker on her head!
“Ann Young has a sneaker?“
Associations don’t have to be exact. In this case, we want a strong and unique image to remind us of the correct way to say this greeting.
“Hello” in Korean – Standard Language
This is the standard way of saying “hello” in Korean. If you are going to learn only one way to say hello, then this is the one you should learn! Korean speakers use this version most often, and it’s a common way to start a conversation.
You can use this greeting in any situation. For example, you might use it with a convenience store clerk, a new business associate, or to your Korean teacher.
The actual meaning of the phrase has two parts. The first part is 안녕 (annyeong), which means “well-being” or “peace.” The second part is 하세요 (haseyo), which comes from the verb 하다 (hada) meaning “to do.” Put them together, and you have “to do well-being”.
It’s similar to asking “have you been doing well?”.
The 세 (se) part of the word comes from 시 (si) which is a piece of grammar often inserted into words to show more respect. The 시 (si) character is used when speaking to somebody older than you or about someone who you want to show respect it. It can also be used when asking a question to show extra politeness.
Sometimes you will see the standard word for “hello” written with a question mark after it. Since it is a question, you can reply with 네, 안녕하세요? (ne, annyeonghaseyo? | yes, hello?). You can practice the pronunciation of 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) using the video below.
Since this is the standard way to say “hello” in Korean, you can use this phrase with anyone you meet and it will be considered polite.
Note that it’s possible that people higher up in the social rank may talk to you in informal Korean. For example, an older man or woman may say “hello” to you by saying the informal version of “hello”, which is 안녕 (annyeong).
In that case, you should still reply with 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo). It shows good manners, and you will be sure to maintain harmony in all of your interactions.
Note: You wouldn’t use this phrase to say goodbye in Korean. For standard formality Korean, you’d say goodbye using a different expression.
Associations for Standard “Hello”
Now we already have the association of “Ann Young” so we can create a little phrase that sounds similar to 하세요 (haseyo) to remember the full phrase.
It sounds like “has say yo!” Imagine that when “Ann Young” says hello in most situations everyone quiets down and listens because she “has say, yo!”
Ann Young has say, yo!
Ann is quite influential!
“Hello” in Korean – Informal Language
1. 안녕 (annyeong)
Usually people learn standard Korean before informal Korean. The reason is, standard Korean can be used with almost all people. You would only use informal Korean with people with close friends or those who are lower than you in the social rank.
Mainly, this means you would use the informal Korean “hello” with people that are younger than you and/or who are close to you. The low level of politeness using this phrase can also be interpreted as a sign of closeness. You might use this for texting close friends.
The informal way of saying “hello” is 안녕 (annyeong). You may notice that this is the building block for the standard and formal ways of this greeting.
안녕 (annyeong) is used in a similar way to how the word ‘hi’ is used in English. Make sure to only use it with close friends or to children since it is informal.
It can also be used as an informal way of saying “bye.”
Associations for Informal “Hello”
For our example, we’ll use a person named “Ann Young“. Ann Young is a student with exemplary manners. She always greets her friends when she sees them and when they part ways.
In other words:
Ann Young always says hello and goodbye
Use this association, or feel free to come up with your own!
“Hello” in Korean – On the Telephone
1. 여보세요 (yeoboseyo)
If you’re excited about all the varieties of “hello” in Korean, we’ve got more in store for you! There is a special word for “hello” that is used when answering the telephone. This word is 여보세요 (yeoboseyo).
It’s a polite way to answer the phone, even if you don’t know who the caller is. You can use it with friends, family, and strangers. Be careful not to use this greeting in person—phone calls only!
Associations for Telephone “Hello”
This one is easy if you’re aware of one fact in Korean. A popular term for married couples to use for each other is 여보 (yeobo) which roughly translates to “honey” or “darling”.
Who do you most often spend talking on the phone with?
Your spouse! You want to hear what your 여보 (yeobo) has to say.
Remember this greeting when you want to say “hello” on the telephone.
More Ways to Say “Hello” in Korean
Once you are familiar with the informal, standard, and informal ways of saying “hello,” you may want to add in some other greetings to the mix. You can choose the version of hello based on the setting. For example, you might use one version for strangers you would interact with in public places, and another with close friends and family at home.
You might use some of these on their own, while others you may combine with an 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo).
1. 좋은 아침이에요 (joeun achimieyo)
This phrase means “good morning.” It’s not used quite the same as it is in English, but it is similar.
The actual meaning of the phrase is “It is a good morning”. In English, we’d use this as a greeting. In Korean culture, you can use it as a greeting as well, but it’s not nearly as common.
It is made up of the adjective 좋다 (jota) which means “good”, the word 아침 (achim) which means “morning”, and the verb 이다 (ida) which means “to be.”
2. 잘 잤어요? (jal jasseoyo)
This is the Korean equivalent of saying “did you sleep well?” It’s made up of the word 잘 (jal) meaning “well”, and the verb 자다 (jada) meaning “to sleep.”
The formal version of this is 안녕히 주무셨어요 (annyeonghijumusyeosseoyo)? You would say this to ask if the other person slept well.
Usually you’d use this phrase with people you don’t know well. You might also use it with people that are much older than you and you want to show respect to.
3. 오랜만이에요 (oraenmanieyo)
This phrase means “long time no see”. You could use this that you’ve met before but haven’t seen in a while. You might use this with someone that you run into on the street.
If you want to be more formal, you can also say 오랜만입니다 (oraenmanimnida).
4. 안뇽 (annyong)
If you want to practice your aegyo, then this would be on one way to do it! This is a way of pronouncing this greeting in a cute and adorably way.
Use this informal and extremely cute version of hello in Korean with those you are close to.
5. 밥 먹었어요? (bap meogeosseoyo)
This phrase translates to “have you eaten?” However, it’s a common way to say hello in Korean. Use it as a greeting with people you know well already.
You may hear this in Korean dramas and movies and be confused as to why they’re asking about eating. This is one of the cultural subtleties that makes it worthwhile to learn Korean so you can watch K-Dramas without the subtitles.
Congratulations! You now know how to say “hello” in Korean.
Since there are few ways to say it, take some time and practice to get them right. If you are unsure of which one to use, then just stick to 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)? as your go-to phrase since you can use it in all situations.