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Korean Phrases You Should Know Before Going to Korea

Updated on March 17, 2014
Cherry Blossom in Seoul
Cherry Blossom in Seoul | Source

About Korean Language

Korean is the official language of both North and South Korea. There are about 80 million Korean speakers in the world. In South Korea, the language is referred to as “Hahn goo guh” while in North Korea, the language is most often called “joh suhn mahl”. Generally, Korean language can be spoken in 3 forms : formal polite, informal polite and casual forms, depending on the situation.

English Proficiency in South Korea

Not many Koreans speak fluent English. Though the younger generations are catching up fast on learning English, many of them are still struggling to speak due to lack of English language immersion in their country. To make the matter worse, they speak Korean English with Korean accent, adding extra syllable to original English. For example, to pronounce the work "cheese", they pronounce it as "chee - sir". For the word "toliet", they will pronounce it as "toilet - the" emphasizing on the "t" sound.

Considering travellers' basic needs in Korea such as :

- how to get from one place to another

- asking for direction to go to toilet

- basic greetings to have simple chat with the locals

I have listed down the basic and commonly used sentences you will need when travelling to Korea.

Basic Essentials For non-Korean speaking Travellers

ahn hyuhng hah seh yo
Good Morning / Day / Night
ahn hyuhng Hashim-neeka
ahn nyuhng hee gah seh yo
ah nee yo
Joh ssum nee dah
boo tah kahm nee dah
Thank you
gahm sah hahm nee dah
You're welcome
chuhn mah neh yo
hwah jahng seel
Where is the toilet ?
hwah jahng seel uh-dee eet-ssum-nee-kkah
doh wah joo sehyo
Where is ......... ?
......... uh-dee eet-ssum-nee kkah ?
male toilet
namseong hwa jahng seel
Excuse me
shee lay hamnida
I'm sorry
Mian Hamnida
How much ?
Ol-ma Ee-yo
My name is .........
Choe Huhn ....... imnida

Korean Swear Word

Some people believe the faster way to learn a language is to pick up the wear words. Well, just don't get into trouble with them :

Famous Korean Girl Group
Famous Korean Girl Group


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    • Naim Hasan profile image

      Naim H 

      5 years ago from Dhaka

      hi, how have you been? i am a fan of korean drama/films and i have been watching them for the last 5 years, i have watched recent korean popular drams like the heir, rosy lovers, good doctors, high society etc. i like korean way of telling stories. I knew some of the phrases you mentioned here, but never knew the actual spelling lol. Great hub indeed. Gamsamnedaaah!!


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