K-Pop fans dream of visiting Korea at least once in their lifetime. It can be difficult, however, to get around without knowing some basic Korean. Here is a list of 10 Korean phrases you should know before you visit Korea!
1. “Hello (안녕하세요)”
First things first, the most basic phrase we can start off with is “Hello (안녕하세요)”, pronounced “ahn young ha say yo”. Knowing how to say hello can be useful, especially when trying to get someone’s attention in a store or a restaurant. Of course, it’s always nice to say hello to people in general. Locals will appreciate the effort for trying to greet them in Korean as well.
2. “Nice to meet you (반갑습니다)”
This phrase often follows right after “Hello” if you are meeting the person for the first time. “Nice to meet you (반갑습니다)” is pronounced “bah-n gawp soom knee dah”. Together, “Hello, nice to meet you” would make a fine introduction if you meet someone new while at the accommodation or at an event.
3. “I’m sorry (죄송합니다)”
Messing up because you’re not used to the way things work in Korea? Running into people on a jammed subway during Seoul’s traffic hours? When stuck in an unfavorable situation, remember the phrase, “I’m sorry (죄송합니다)” pronounced “jo-eh song haw-m knee dah”. A quick apology may just get you the help you need.
4. “Please give me — (주세요)”
To ask for something in the store, or to order an item off the menu, try this simplified version of requesting something. The magic phrase is “Please (주세요)” pronounced “joo say yo”. Simply by adding this phrase to the end of the item, like “Set A joo say yo” or “Ticket joo say yo”, you’d sound more polite and the locals will appreciate it!
5. “One second (잠시만요)”
This phrase, “One second (잠시만요)”, can be used in countless situations. It can be used to put someone on hold on the phone. It can be used to ask someone to wait up. It can be used to earn yourself some time to check something. It can even be used in replacement of “Excuse me” when passing through a crowded area! This useful phrase is pronounced “jaw-m she mon yo”.
6. “Thank you (감사합니다)”
“Thank you (감사합니다)”, pronounced “gah-m sa haw-m knee dah”, is an essential phrase to travel around Korea. Whenever a service is provided, try showing appreciation with this phrase. The locals will love it!
7. “Where is —? (어디예요)”
With this phrase, you’ll be able to get help even if you get lost on Korean streets! If you’re looking for a specific place and you don’t know how to get there, don’t be afraid to ask, “Where is — ?(— 어디예요?)” pronounced “uh dee yay yo”. Simply name the place you are looking for, followed by the phrase. For example, if you’re looking for Namsan Tower, you would say “Namsan Tower uh dee yay yo?”
8. “How much is —? (얼마예요)”
“How much is —? (얼마예요?)”, pronounced “uh-l ma yay yo”, works exactly like the previous phrase. If you are looking to buy something, but there is no tag showing how much it costs, simply name the item and say this phrase right after to check the price. To ask how much a plate of spicy rice cakes costs, you would say “Tteokbokki uh-l ma yay yo?”
9. “This (이거)”
When you don’t know how to read something on the menu, but you like the picture that you see, you can still point out what you want with “This (이거)”, pronounced “ego”. This would go best with “Please (주세요)”, especially at a restaurant! So “ego joo say yo” would mean “This, please.” This word can be combined with previous phrases too! For example, “How much is this?” would be “ego uh-l ma yay yo?”
10. “My Korean isn’t good (한국말 잘 못해요)”
Finally, if you ever feel like you will struggle to remember all these phrases, but someone approaches you to talk, you can simply say, “My Korean isn’t good (한국말 잘 못해요)”, pronounced “han-guk-mal jal mot-hey-yo”. Koreans will understand and either try to explain in English or get someone else who can help you!