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The day has finally come for your South Korea trip. Everything is planned out, but could there still be something missing before the puzzle is complete?
Oh no, how do you plan to communicate with the locals once you arrive?
This is where all of your Korean studying comes in handy! Even if it’s just these essential Korean survival phrases we are going to teach you now. Learn these easy phrases and you’ll not only survive your trip to Korea, you will absolutely love it!
Greetings, Pleasantries and Common Courtesies
Hello – 안녕하세요 (annyeonghaseyo)
Goodbye – 안녕히가세요 (annyeonghigaseyo)/안녕히계세요 (annyeonghigyeseyo)
The difference between the two is that the latter is usually said when the person you are saying goodbye to will stay in the place you are leaving.
Nice to meet you – 만나서 반가워요 (mannaseo bangawoyo)/반갑습니다 (bangapseumnida)
The former is slightly less formal, and so you can feel free to use it with someone who is around your age.
Thank you – 감사합니다 (gamsahamnida)
Unless you are close with the person, this is the main way to say ‘thank you’.
How are you? – 어떻게 지내세요? (eotteoke jinaeseyo?)
You may also drop the honorifics and simply use 지내요 (jinaeyo) if the person is not a complete stranger.
What have you been doing these days? – 뭐하면서 지내세요? (mwohamyeonseo jinaeseyo?)
Same applies here as above.
Are you doing well? – 잘 지내세요? (jal jinaeseyo?)
For this, too, you can use the alternative of 지내요 (jinaeyo).
I am doing good – 잘 지내요 (jal jinaeyo)
Just a moment – 잠시만요 (jamsimanyo)/잠깐만요 (jamkkanmanyo)
Please wait a moment – 잠시만 기다리세요 (jamsiman gidariseyo)/잠시만 기다려주세요 (jamsiman gidaryeojuseyo)
Excuse me – 실례합니다 (sillyehamnida)
This is typically used when you either need to pass someone walking in front of you or inside the subway, or if you need to catch someone’s attention to ask a question in public.
I’m sorry – 죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida)
Much like for ‘thank you’, unless you are super close with the person, this is the best form of ‘I’m sorry’ to use.
My name is… – 제 이름은 x예요 (je ireumeun X yeyo) /제 이름은 x입니다 (je ireumeun X imnida)
The latter one is more formal, but it is actually not used as much as the first option.
I am from… – 저는 X에서 왔어요 (jeoneun X eseo wasseoyo)/저는 x나라 사람이에요 (jeoneun X nara saramieyo)
The first option literally translates to “I came from X country” whereas the second option translates to “I am from X country”. Either one is perfectly fine to use.
Where is… – …어디에요? (eodieyo?)/어디세요? (eodiseyo?)
- Bathroom – 화장실 (hwajangsil)
- Subway station – 지하철역 (jihacheollyeok)
- Bus stop – 버스정류장 (beoseujeongnyujang)
The latter is more formal, so you may prefer using that one if you want to sound extra polite.
Do you know where is… – …어딘지 아세요? (eodinji aseyo?)
Right/Left/Straight – 오른쪽 (oreunjjok)/왼쪽 (oenjjok)/직진 (jikjin)
Please take me to… – …로 가주세요 (ro gajuseyo)
Use this when you take the taxi.
Restaurants and Shopping
Menu, please – 메뉴 주세요 (menyu juseyo)/메뉴판 주세요 (menyupan juseyo)
Typically the menu is already available at the table or on the walls, or brought to you as you sit down, when you go to a restaurant. But sometimes you may want to order some more after your first order, and for that you should ask for the menu separately.
Without X food item – X 빼세요 (X ppaeseyo)
If you have food allergies and such, it’s important to use this when ordering.
Do you have…?/Does it have…? – …있어요? (isseoyo?) 있으세요? (isseuseyo?)
This can be used to ask about specific items or dishes at a store or a restaurant, or even if you want to ask if the food has a certain ingredient in it.
Please give me – 주세요 (juseyo)
Whenever you are requesting something, you may want to add this to the sentence.
This one – 이것 (igeot)
If you don’t know the name of the item you want, you may simply point to it or touch it and use 이것 to specify it.
How much is this? – 얼마예요? (eolmayeyo?)
If you are shopping at markets or street shops, there are not always prices laid down on the items and you will have to ask and haggle for them specifically.
Please give me a discount – 깍아주세요 (kkagajuseyo)
It is getting less and less prominent to haggle in Korea, but if you go to the markets of Namdaemun and Dongdaemun, you may still get lucky enough to get a discount.
Can I pay by credit card? – 카드를 받으세요?(kadeureul badeuseyo?)
While these days most Koreans opt to use their cards when paying instead of cash, it is good especially in the very small stores and restaurants to double check if that is a payment option.
Please help! – 도와주세요! (dowajuseyo!)
It’s an emergency – 긴급상황이에요 (gingeupsanghwangieyo)
Call the police – 경찰 부르세요 (gyeongchal bureuseyo)/경찰 불러 주세요 (gyeongchal bulleo juseyo)
It hurts here – 여기 앞아요 (yeogi apayo)
Please take me to the hospital – 병원으로 가 주세요 (byeongwoneuro ga juseyo)
I need a doctor – 저는 의사가 필요해요 (jeoneun uisaga pillyohaeyo)
I don’t understand – 잘 모르겠어요 (jal moreugesseoyo)/이해가 못해요 (ihaega mothaeyo)
The first option can also be used to say that you don’t know the answer to the question you’ve been asked.
I can’t speak Korean well – 한국말을 잘 못해요 (hangungmareul jal mothaeyo)
Do you speak English? – 영어를 할 수 있어요? (yeongeoreul hal su isseoyo?)/영어를 가능하세요? (yeongeoreul ganeunghaseyo?)
Please speak slowly – 천천히 말씀해주세요 (cheoncheonhi malsseumhaejuseyo)
Can you say it again? – 다시 한번 말씀해줄 수 있으세요? (dasi hanbeon malsseumhaejul su isseuseyo?)
Now that you have these phrases in your repertoire you’re absolutely ready for whatever South Korea has to throw at you! Go out and flex those Korean muscles you’ve built up. And of course, enjoy your trip!