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 Formal Hello Standard Hello 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 the pronunciation if 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!
- 1 Formal “Hello” in Korean
- 2 Standard “Hello” in Korean
- 3 Informal “Hello” in Korean
- 4 “Hello” in Korean – On the Telephone
- 5 More Ways to Say “Hello” in Korean
- 6 How to Write “Hi” in Korean
- 7 How to Write “Hello” in Korean
- 8 How do you greet someone in Korean?
- 9 How do you say “hello, how are you” in Korean?
- 10 What is the difference between 안녕 (annyeong) and 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)?
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. You would also greet someone differently the first time you meet them compared to the greetings you would use with close friends.
Generally speaking, the more formal versions of the words are longer and used with someone you want to show respect to. The informal versions are shorter and more casual phrases used to greet friends or someone you are on close terms with.
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!
Formal “Hello” in Korean
This is the formal language version of “hello” is often used in announcements, speeches, or on the news in Korea. It is a way of saying “hello” using formal language, and can be used the first time you greet someone you don’t know. You would use 안녕하십니까 (annyeonghasimnikka) when you want to show high levels of respect to the other person.
Note that this formal way to greet someone 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 someone greets you using this expression, you can reply with 안녕하십니까 (annyeonghasimnikka).
This greeting can be used with people at any time of day. It can be similar to “good morning”, “good afternoon”, or “good evening”.
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 “Hello” in Formal Language
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.
Standard “Hello” in Korean
This is the way of saying “hello” in Korean to someone using standard language. 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 with people in any situation. For example, you might use it with a convenience store clerk, a new business associate, or your Korean teacher. It can be used with a new acquaintance you are meeting for the first time or someone you’ve known for a while.
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?).
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 more casual and informal version of “hello”, which is 안녕 (annyeong).
In that case, you should still reply with 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo). It shows good manners to greet people older than you with the more respectful version of these phrases.
Note: This is a bit different than the equivalent English greeting because 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 “Hello” in Standard Language
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.
This phrase 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! Remember this story to help you recall the correct phrases when you greet someone.
Informal “Hello” in Korean
This is the casual way to say “hello” using informal language. We recommend learning the standard Korean version of this phrase before the informal version. 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.
This means you would use the informal Korean “hello” with people that are younger than you and/or who are close to you. You may use it with someone you know for a long time if you are on close terms. It’s similar to referring to them by name instead of title.
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 or when you see them in person. If you used a more formal version of “hello”, with friends or someone you are close with, it might make them feel distant.
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 the English language. Make sure to only use this greeting with close friends or to children since it is informal language.
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
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 people you don’t know who 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).
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. You can say this to greet friends or to people older than you.
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.”
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.
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).
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 adorable way.
Use this informal and extremely cute version of hello in Korean with those you are close to.
This phrase translates to “have you eaten?” However, most of the time it’s used as 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.
How to Write “Hi” in Korean
The equivalent of “hi” in Korean would be 하이 (hi) or 안녕 (annyeong). This is a bit informal, so make sure to use it with someone younger than you or lower than you in the social hierarchy.
How to Write “Hello” in Korean
You can write this as 헬로 (hello) or 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo). These are the standard ways of staying “hello” in Korean.
If you want to write it in a more formal way, you can write 안녕하십니까 (annyeonghasimnikka).
How do you greet someone in Korean?
The most common way to greet someone is to say 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)? Handshakes are common, and Koreans will often bow to each other.
How do you say “hello, how are you” in Korean?
You can say 안녕하세요, 잘 지냈어요? (annyeonghaseyo, jal jinaesseoyo). This means “hello, how are you?”. This is a standard way of saying it. If you want a more formal way, you can say 안녕하십니까, 잘 지내셨어요? (annyeonghasimnikka, jal jinaesyeosseoyo?).
What is the difference between 안녕 (annyeong) and 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)?
안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo) is the formal and polite way to greet someone. This is the phrase that is used most often with people. 안녕 (annyeong) is the informal version that is used with people you are close with.
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.