How to Say “Where are you from?” in Korean

Last Updated on September 16, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
People standing near various famous landmarks

In this lesson, we’ll teach you how to say “Where are you from?” in Korean. It is a common question you will get in Korea and it is likely one of the first questions you will hear in a conversation.

If you want to speak the language, then this is one of the first questions you should learn to ask and answer. It’s up there in importance with “hello” in Korean and “thank you” in Korean.

Read on as we’ll show you the Korean phrases used to ask this question in the Korean language!

People standing near various famous landmarks

“Where are you from” in Korean

When you want to ask someone “where are you from” in Korean, or understand the question when being asked, this is the phrase to remember:

어디에서 왔어요? (eodieseo wasseoyo?)

Where are you from? 

This is the standard form. There are also formal ways of asking, which you may want to use with people you want to show respect to.

어디에서 왔습니까? (eodieseo watseumnikka?)

Where are you from? (formal)

어디에서 오셨어요? (eodieseo osyeosseoyo?)

Where are you from? (honorific)

Literally translated, these sentences mean “Where did you come from?”. They are identical in meaning. However, as you have learned in previous lessons, you may notice there is a difference in the level of formality between the three.

The first two are higher in formality and certainly safe to use when talking with a new acquaintance. But in most situations, it is also okay to use a more neutral sentence. Just remember that this is rarely ever a question to ask informally!

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Illustration of people at their windows

Alternative ways to ask the question

The above sentence is the most common way to ask someone where they are from, but variations exist. You may hear native speakers ask the question differently than the question we’ve just talked about. You’ll find the most common of them in the next section.

“Which country are you from” in Korean

The question “Which country are you from” is often used by Koreans to ask someone where they’re from. This question can be expressed using the standard or formal version.

Below are the 2 versions you can use to ask “Which country are you from”:

어느 나라 사람이에요? (eoneu nara saramieyo?)

Which country are you from?

어느 나라 분이세요? (eoneu nara buniseyo?)

Which country are you from? (honorific)

“Where is your hometown” in Korean

Another phrase Koreans used to ask “where are you from” is “where is your hometown.” This phrase can be expressed with the standard or formal version.

Here are 2 versions you can use to ask “where is your hometown”:

고향은 어디에요? (gohyangeun eodieyo?)

Where is your hometown?

고향은 어디세요? (gohyangeun eodiseyo?)

Where is your hometown? (honorific)

“Where are you” in Korean

If you simply want to ask where someone is, there are two Korean questions you can use. You can ask the question “where are you” in Korean with 어디에요? (eodieyo?) and 어디에 있어요? (eodie isseoyo?)

“I am from” in Korean

When you’re asked where you’re from, you’ll normally answer it with “I am from.” The phrase “I am from” in Korean is expressed using the following sentence structure:

country name + 에서 왔어요 (eseo wasseoyo)

This sentence structure means:

I am from ___ = ____에서 왔어요

The word 왔어요 (wasseoyo) in the sentence above means “came.”

For example:

A: 어디에서 왔어요? (eodieseo wasseoyo?)

Where are you from?

B: 저는 러시아에서 왔어요. (jeoneun reosiaeseo wasseoyo.)

I am from Russia.

“What is your nationality” in Korean

The question “what is your nationality” isn’t commonly asked by Koreans. Instead, they ask you the question “where are you from”.

If you want to ask someone what their nationality is, you can say 국적은 어디입니까? (gukjeogeun eodiimnikka?) or 국적이 어디세요? (gukjeogi eodiseyo?). However, 국적은 어디입니까? (gukjeogeun eodiimnikka?) isn’t really used in everyday conversation.

A word of caution about Romanization

While it is possible for you to study the words in this article simply by reading their romanized versions, it will come in handy for you to be able to read Hangeul if you ever wish to come to Korea. Hangeul is the Korean alphabet, and not difficult to learn. In fact, you can learn it in about 90 minutes.

After you’re familiar with Hangeul, life in Korea will suddenly seem so much easier and the country won’t appear as foreign to you. So, if you’re serious about learning the languag, why not learn Hangeul today?

Friends sitting and talking

Sample Dialogues

A: 어느 나라 사람이세요? (eoneu nara saramiseyo?)

Which country are you from?

B: 저는 미국 사람이에요. (jeoneun miguk saramieyo.)

I am American.

 

A: 고향은 어디에요? (gohyangeun eodieyo?)

Where is your hometown?

B: 제 고향은 베트남 하노이에요. (je gohyangeun beteunam hanoieyo.)

My hometown is Hanoi, Vietnam.

 

And now you should be able to ask your new friends where they are from, understand when you are being asked this question, and also answer the question when asked. You’ll have a lot to talk about!

What questions do you have about this phrase? Let us know in the comments below!

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