Korean Phone Conversation – Useful words phrases to use

Last Updated on January 24, 2023 by 90 Day Korean
A woman holding a phone to her ear, smiling while raising one hand

In this article, we will be learning about a typical Korean phone conversation. Thus far, we’ve covered all sorts of communication situations. From greetings to popular exclamations and from texting lingo to lessons on reaching conversational fluency, you’ve already been able to go over a lot. But do you yet know how to operate Korean phone calls?

A woman holding a phone to her ear, smiling while raising one hand

Although talking on the phone is one of life’s normal daily activities, it also makes many of us nervous. Add to that having the conversation in a foreign language, and it’s no wonder why many Korean learners find this to be nerve-racking too!

A phone conversation in the Korean language and with South Koreans can go a lot more smoothly when you’ve equipped yourself with some etiquette tips and example phrases to use. Below, we will go over some example conversations and situations, basic vocabulary, and give you a bit of info on etiquette. Now, let’s become masters of talking on the phone!

Vocabulary related to phone conversations in Korean

First, let’s go over some related words and useful phrases. You might have visited Korea before, or you plan to visit soon. Knowing these terms will be helpful if you need to speak to someone over the phone.

Vocabulary related to phones and phone conversations

Below are some Korean words related to phones and having a telephone conversation.

EnglishKorean
Telephone전화 (jeonhwa)
Mobile phone휴대폰 (hyudaepon), 핸드폰 (haendeupon)
Smartphone스마트폰 (seumateupon)
Button버튼 (beoteun)
Text message문자 (munja)
Message메세지 (meseji)
Video call영상 통화 (yeongsang tonghwa)
Vibration mode진동 모드 (jindong modeu)
Mute무음 모드 (mueum modeu)
Ringing mode벨소리 모드 (belsori modeu)
Local call시내 전화 (sinae jeonhwa)
Long-distance call시외 전화 (sioe jeonhwa)

Basic phrases related to phones and phone conversations

Next, here are some of the basic phrases that you might encounter when talking to someone over the phone in Korean.

EnglishKorean
Make a phone call전화하다 (jeonhwahada)
Answer a phone call전화를 받다 (jeonhwareul batda)
End a phone call전화를 끊다 (jeonhwareul kkeunta)
Have the wrong number전화를 잘못 걸다 (jeonhwareul jalmot geolda)
To call back later이따가 다시 전화
Push a button버튼을 누르다 (beoteuneul nureuda)
Send a text message문자를 보내다 (munjareul bonaeda)
Have a video call영상 통화하다 (yeongsang tonghwahada)
Leave a message메세지를 남기다 (mesejireul namgida)
Set one's cell phone on vibration mode진동 모드로 바꾸다 (jindong modeuro
Put one's phone on mute무음 모드로 바꾸다 (mueum modeuro bakkuda)

a young woman and an old lady talking over the phone

Essential Korean phrases for phone conversations

Many of these phrases are the same or similar to what you can use in other types of communication situations. However, there are also some that are exclusive to a conversation on the phone.

“Hello” in Korean

여보세요? (yeoboseyo) is the standard way of picking up the phone, much like “Hello?” in English-speaking countries. 여보세요 (yeoboseyo) is exclusively used in phone conversations in the Korean language and only when you answer the phone.

Further into the conversation on the phone, or if you are the one making the call, you can return to using 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo), which is the standard form of “Hello” in Korean.

If it’s an elderly person answering the phone, they may also simply answer with a 네? (ne). But you may want to refrain from answering your phone calls like this. At least do not do so if you are not closely bonded with the person who’s calling you.

“How may I help you?” in Korean

If you call the customer service of just about any company, 무엇을 도와드릴까요? (Mueoseul dowadeurilkkayo?) is the type of greeting you may expect to get which means “How may I help you?”. This question is typically preceded by the name of the company, as well as the name of the person answering the phone.

“Hello, this is [name] from [company]” in Korean

Next up is 안녕하세요, “회사이름”의 “이름”입니다 (annyeonghaseyo, [hoesaireum]ui [ireum]imnida). This is a sentence that you can both use on the phone yourself or have someone start a phone call with you. This is the way to introduce yourself when making business calls. It’s commonly used by receptionists of any company you may call.

Another phrase you can introduce yourself with is 안녕하세요, 저는 “회사이름”의 “이름”이라고 합니다 (annyeonghaseyo, jeoneun [hoesaireum]ui [ireum]irago hamnida). The meaning of the sentence is quite identical, just the way of saying your name is slightly different. You may already be familiar with the -라고 하다 (rago hada) grammar pattern from our Inner Circle classes.

If you’d like to know more about Korean business etiquette, head over to our article on Korean business etiquette. You can also learn all sorts of vocabulary for business in Korean with us!

How to ask for someone over the phone in Korean

Occasionally, you may run into different situations when handling a call. Sometimes, the person answering the phone isn’t the one you’re looking for. Alternatively, you may be calling a company for a specific person, and there is a receptionist picking up the phone.

In these instances, introduce yourself by saying 이름님과 통화할 수 있을까요? ([ireum]nimgwa tonghwahal su isseulkkayo?). Then, make the above request, replacing 이름 (ireum) with the name of the person you are hoping to reach.

Depending on the situation, you may also use 씨 (ssi) instead of 님 (nim). They both translate as the title “Mr.” and “Mrs.” in other languages, but of the two, 님 (nim) is a little more formal. There are also cases, where you can drop the 씨 (ssi) and 님 (nim) altogether, such as when your friend’s phone is answered by someone else.

You may also make the request with simply name + 부탁드립니다 (butakdeurimnida), as this verb is a formal way for requesting something in many situations.

How to respond when the caller is looking for someone else in Korean

A typical response to this request is 연결해드리겠습니다 (yeongyeolhaedeurigetseumnida), which means they’ll transfer your call (aka “put you through”) to the person you’re wishing to speak to.

Of course, on the occasion that the person you are trying to reach isn’t available, the response would go along the lines of 죄송하지만 [이름]님이 잠시 자리를 비웠습니다 (joesonghajiman [ireum]nimi jamsi jarireul biwotseumnida), which means “Unfortunately, [name] isn’t available at the moment” or “Unfortunately, [name] isn’t in the office right now.”

You may then ask them to call back later with the phrase 나중에 다시 전화해 달라고 부탁해 주시겠어요? (najunge dasi jeonhwahae dallago butakae jusigesseoyo?), which means, “Can you ask them to call me back later?”.

“I am calling to make a reservation” in Korean

Once you have introduced yourself on the phone, it’s time to state the reason behind your call. One common reason you may be making phone calls in Korean is to make a reservation, most often to a restaurant for lunch or dinner. You can then say 예약하려고 전화드렸어요. (yeyakaryeogo jeonhwadeuryeosseoyo.)

예약하다 (yeyakada) means to reserve, and 전화드리다 (jeonhwadeurida) is the formal language version of the verb 전화하다 (jeonhwahada), which means to call. Although many reservations can be done online these days, it is handy to know how to converse directly with the restaurant.

“I couldn’t quite hear that, could you please repeat it?” in Korean

Especially as a non-native speaker of Korean, you may come across many situations where you couldn’t quite catch what was being said, be that on the phone or in person. In these cases, you can request for the speaker to repeat what they said with 다시 말씀해 주시겠어요? (dasi malsseumhae jusigesseoyo?).

That alone is enough, but if you wish, you can add something along the lines of not hearing it, which is 잘 안들리는데 (jal andeullineunde). Combining the two Korean phrases, you can say You can then say 잘 안들리는데 다시 말씀해 주시겠어요? (jal andeullineunde dasi malsseumhae jusigesseoyo?).

“Can you hear me?” in Korean

Alternatively, if you feel the connection is bad or the other person may otherwise not be hearing you well, you can ask them 들리시나요? (deullisinayo?). This means, “Can you hear me?”.

“What did you say?” in Korean

Of course, these same phrases can also be used in less formal and even informal settings. In those cases, you do not have to be so formal with how you frame your words. For example, the above request can be replaced by 뭐라고? (mworago?), which means, “What did you say?”.

How to ask someone to repeat what they said in Korean

Lastly, you can also casually request the other person to repeat themselves with 다시 한번 말해줄래? (dasi hanbeon malhaejullae?).

Please hold on a moment” in Korean

When you call somewhere, requesting to make an appointment or to speak to a specific person, you may be asked to wait for a while as they check for availability. The speaker will tell you 잠시만 기다려주세요. (jamsiman gidaryeojuseyo.). In the same way, you may also need to ask someone to hold on, for example, while you check your calendar for a free day.

The above phrase is a great way to express the request in a polite way. In addition, simply 잠시만요 (jamsimanyo) works, as well. Alternatively, you may also use 잠깐만요 (jamkkanmanyo). However, this is slightly more of an informal language.

Goodbye” in Korean

A possibly peculiar aspect of Korean phone conversations is that you may not often hear them say “goodbye” when ending the call. However, during a more formal setting, you may hear someone wish you “goodbye” with the phrase 잘가요 (jalgayo). Officially this means “go well.”

It’s me, what are you doing?” in Korean

Moving onto phone conversations with your friends, saying, “It’s me, what are you doing?” or 나야, 뭐해? (naya, mwohae?) in Korean, is one popular way you can start speaking when your friend picks up the phone. 나 (na), means “me,” and 야 (ya) is simply something affectionate and casual to add to words when speaking with close friends.

Besides yourself, you can also add it to your friends’ names or however you choose to call them. One example of this is the Korean word of endearment, 자기 (jagi), which often gets extended to 자기야 (jagiya).

뭐해? (mwohae?), on the other hand, is a casual way to ask someone what they’re doing. More polite versions of the phrase are 뭐해요? (mwohaeyo?) and 뭐하세요? (mwohaseyo?). However, you are unlikely to use either one during a phone call.

In informal situations, though, it’s a common way to call up a friend, whether it’s to just chat, to ask for something, or when suggesting to go out. If you think simply saying 나야 (naya) isn’t enough for the person you’re calling to recognize you, you can always say 나 “이름” (na “ireum”) instead. In this case, just replace 이름 (ireum) with your name.

Did you call?” in Korean

Sometimes you’ll try to call someone, or someone will try to call you, but the call doesn’t get answered. Moments later, the call is returned, and when knowing it’s a good friend who made the call, the casual question 전화했었어? (jeonhwahaesseosseo?), meaning “Did you call?” can be raised. You can also make it more polite and ask 전화했었어요? (jeonhwahaesseosseoyo?).

However, in many polite situations, as well as formal ones, this may be seen as a slightly rude way to return a call.

Sample phone conversation dialogues in Korean

Here are some dialogue examples you can memorize and learn from when preparing to have your own phone calls in Korean.

#1. Receiving a call from a friend

To start, here’s a sample dialogue between two friends.

A: 여보세요?

(yeoboseyo?)

B: 오, 나야! 뭐해, 지인아?

(o, naya! mwohae, jiina?)

A: 폰 좀 보고 있어.

(pon jom bogo isseo.)

B: 아 그래? 영화 보러 갈래?

(a geurae? yeonghwa boreo gallae?)

A: 응, 가자! 뭐 볼까?

(eung, gaja! mwo bolkka?)

English translation

A: Hello?

B: Oh, it’s me! What are you doing, Jiin?

A: Looking at my phone.

B: Ah, really? Wanna go watch a movie?

A: Yeah, let’s go! What shall we watch?

#2. Making a reservation at a restaurant

If you plan to dine in at a restaurant, it’s best to secure a reservation. Here’s a sample conversation on how to do that.

A: 안녕하세요. X레스토랑입니다. 무엇을 도와드릴까요?

(annyeonghaseyo. Xreseutorangimnida. mueoseul dowadeurilkkayo?)

B: 안녕하세요. 브런치 예약하려고 전화드렸어요. 이번주 일요일 자리 있읍니까?

(annyeonghaseyo. beureonchi yeyakaryeogo jeonhwadeuryeosseoyo. ibeonju illyoil jari isseumnikka?)

A: 잠시만 기다려주세요, 확인해볼게요. 네, 자리 있어요. 몇시로 예약하시지요?

(jamsiman gidaryeojuseyo, hwaginhaebolgeyo. ne, jari isseoyo. myeotsiro yeyakasijiyo?)

B: 11시로 예약하고 싶어요.

(11siro yeyakago sipeoyo.)

A: 네, 그리고 몇분이시죠?

(ne, geurigo myeotbunisijyo?)

B: 4명이에요.

(4myeongieyo.)

A: 그리고 성함은 어떻게 되세요?

(geurigo seonghameun eotteoke doeseyo?)

B: 박예연입니다.

(bangnyeyeonimnida.)

A: 알겠습니다. 이번주 일요일 11시로 박예연님 이름으로 예약을 해드리겠습니다.

(algetseumnida. ibeonju illyoil 11siro bangnyeyeonnim ireumeuro yeyageul haedeurigetseumnida.)

B: 감사합니다!

(gamsahamnida!)

English translation

A: Hello. This is X Restaurant. How may I help you?

B: Hello. I am calling you about the reservation for brunch. Do you have any place left for this Sunday?

A: Please hold on a moment, I will check. Yes, we still have tables left. At what time would you like to make the reservation?

B: I’d like to reserve for 11 AM. A: Yes, and how many people are you?

B: 4.

A: And under what name?

B: Park Yeyeon.

A: Understood. I will make a reservation for Park Yeyeon, a party of 4, this Sunday at 11AM.

B: Thank you!

#3. Making an appointment at the doctor’s office

The last scenario is calling the doctor’s office to make an appointment. You can find other useful vocabularies that you can use in hospitals in our article on “Doctor” in Korean.

A: 안녕하세요. 덕터 김의 사무실입니다. 무엇을 도와드릴까요?

(annyeonghaseyo. deokteo gimui samusirimnida. mueoseul dowadeurilkkayo?)

B: 네, 안녕하세요. 예약을 하고 싶어서 전화를 드리게 되었습니다.

(ne, annyeonghaseyo. yeyageul hago sipeoseo jeonhwareul deurige doeeotseumnida.)

A: 성함이 어떻게 되십니까?

(seonghami eotteoke doesimnikka?)

B: 박예연입니다.

(bangnyeyeonimnida.)

A: 어디 아프신가요?

(eodi apeusingayo?)

B: 며칠전부터 오른쪽 다리가 아프고 있습니다.

(myeochiljeonbuteo oreunjjok dariga apeugo itseumnida.)

A: 네, 알겠습니다. 김 박사님 내일 오후에 진찰을 받으실 수 있어서 2시에 올 수 있으세요?

(ne, algetseumnida. gim baksanim naeil ohue jinchareul badeusil su isseoseo 2sie ol su isseuseyo?)

B: 혹시 좀 더 늦게 오면 되실까요?

(hoksi jom deo neutge omyeon doesilkkayo?)

A: 잠시만요. 그러면, 4시 어때세요?

(jamsimanyo. geureomyeon, 4si eottaeseyo?)

B: 네, 4시면 좋습니다.

(ne, 4simyeon joseumnida.)

A: 내일 오후 4시 박예연 성함으로 예약했습니다.

(naeil ohu 4si bangnyeyeon seonghameuro yeyakaetseumnida.)

B: 감사합니다.

(gamsahamnida.)

A: 잘가요.

(jalgayo.)

English translation

A: Hello. Doctor Kim’s office. How may I help you?

B: Yes, hello. I am calling to make an appointment.

A: What is your name?

B: Park Yeyeon.

A: And where does it hurt?

B: My right leg has been hurting for a few days.

A: Understood. Doctor Kim could see you tomorrow afternoon, could you come in at 2PM?

B: Would it be possible to come a little later?

A: Just a moment. In that case, how about 4PM?

B: Yes, 4PM I can do.

A: I have made an appointment under Park Yeyeon for 4PM tomorrow.

B: Thank you!

A: Goodbye.

Wrap Up

With this information, you should be able to get started talking on the phone in Korean. Who knows? You might need to call someone in South Korea one of these days. Remember, practice makes perfect, so although at first, it may be hard, in time, you will be the master of Korean phone conversations. Take it slow, one conversation in Korean at a time!

If you still have spare time to learn Korean, this might be the time to brush up on your knowledge of Korean numbers! Or perhaps you’d like to know more about Korean culture, then you can learn more about it in this article!

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