One of Korea’s biggest attractions are its traditional markets. In Seoul, tourists can pick up almost anything in the large Namdaemun market, or they can visit the 24 hour Dongdaemun clothes market if they are interested in fashion.
Even if you aren’t interested in buying anything, these markets have a great atmosphere and are well worth a visit. One thing that you will notice about these markets, and also the many street food sellers that you can encounter in Korea, is the lack of price tags. If you want to buy anything, you will need to know how to say ‘how much’ in Korean.
‘How Much’ in Korean
One of the most useful words to learn when studying Korean; the word ‘how much’ is 얼마 (eolma). This word is the basis of phrases such as ‘How much is it?’
Two other really useful words to learn are 이거 (igeo), which means ‘this’ in Korean; and 값이 (gapsi) which means ‘price’ in Korean.
Formal ‘How Much’ in Korean
1. 얼마입니까? (eolmaimnikka)
Formal Korean is often used in presentations and interviews, as well as in public announcements. Although you probably wouldn’t use this expression often in the street markets of Seoul, it could be useful if you want to speak more formally.
이것의 항공 우편료는 얼마입니까? (igeosui hanggong upyeollyoneun eolmaimnikka)
How much is it by airmail?
시간당 주차료는 얼마입니까? (sigandang jucharyoneun eolmaimnikka)
How much is the hourly parking fee?
Standard ‘How Much’ in Korean
1. 얼마예요? (eolmayeyo)
The standard way of saying ‘how much’ in Korean is one of the most useful expressions that you will learn during your Korean studies. You can use this expression with people you don’t know well, so it is perfect for use with street vendors or salespeople. You will hear this from time to time, especially in Suwon, but it is best to stick with 얼마예요.
그거 임대료가 얼마예요? (geugeo imdaeryoga eolmayeyo)
How much does it rent for?
Informal ‘How Much’ in Korean
1. 얼마야? (eolmaya)
Informal Korean is used when talking to somebody who you are close to, and who is usually younger than you. This expression could be used when asking your boyfriend or girlfriend how much something is.
이거 사는데 얼마 썼어? (igeo saneunde eolma sseosseo)
How much did you spend on all this?
A Word of Caution About Romanization
Romanization is a useful tool for the complete beginner, but if you want to improve your Korean fast, then it is best to learn Hangeul. Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, allows you to learn new words while walking down the street or riding the subway, improves your pronunciation, and helps you identify similar parts of words, which makes memorization easier. You can learn how to read Hangeul in less than two hours on this very site. Now, that is what I call ‘time well spent’.
Now that you know how to say ‘how much’ in Korean, it is time to hit the streets and learn about Korean culture by visiting some traditional markets. Have fun shopping!