On top of being one of the most sought after tourist destination in the world, South Korea has also risen to be one of the countries many come in search of school or work opportunities. Whether it’d be for a vacation or a prolonged stay, one of the few things you’d want to get a good grasp of a few basic phrases just to ease your navigation in the foreign country. Learning a few basic phrases will allow you to communicate with the locals and slowly assimilate yourself into the community.
The current global pandemic is seeing restricted leisure travel amongst countries, but that doesn’t mean we can’t research now and plan for a trip in the future once it’s safe to travel again.
To start off, here are a few greeting phrases you’d want to pick up before you pack your bags and surround yourself in all things Korean.
1. Hello: 안녕하세요 (Annyeong Haseyo)
This is the most common way to greet someone in Korean. The use of 하세요(haseyo) is used to show extra respect to the other party, which lands the greeting in a polite speech pattern. It’s a phrase you can use for almost all situations – greeting a stranger or even when introducing yourself in the classroom or office.
2. Nice To Meet You: 만나서 반갑습니다 (Mannaso Bangapseubnida)
When you’ve met somebody for the very first time, you’d want to follow up your greeting with a “nice to meet you.” In Korean, the most common way to express this would be to say 만나서 반갑습니다 (mannaso bangapseubnida). Unlike 안녕하세요(annyeong haseyo) where the greeting ends with 하세요(haseyo), this particular phrase ends with니다(nida). This suffix represents a formally polite conversational style that is used between strangers at the start of a conversation or in any formal settings.
In more casual settings, you can afford to say 반갑습이에요 (mannaso bangapseub-ieyo) or 반갑습니다(bangapseupbnida).
3. My Name Is: 제 이름은 … 입니다 (Jay Irum Eun … Imnida)
Suppose you’re introducing yourself to somebody who stands above you in the social hierarchy (somebody significantly older, your seniors or superior). In that case, you’d want to do so in a formally polite manner. In addition to 입니다 (imnida), 제 (jay) is the formal saying equivalent to “my” in English.
If you’re introducing yourself to somebody who is somewhat of an equal social standing as you (strangers who are older or of equal age or colleagues) or in a less formal setting, you can opt for the casually polite speech level. The phrase you’d want to use will then be 내 이름은 … 이예요 (nae irum eun … ieyo) or simply add the suffix 이예요(ieyo) behind your name.
4. Please Look After Me: 잘부탁드립니다 (Jalbutag Deurimnida)
The directly translated, the phrase above will mean “thank you (for doing as I asked/taking care of it). “In everyday conversation, however, the phrase is more often used as a respectful greeting when one introduces oneself. In this case, the phrase will then have a cultural nuance and will mean something along the lines of “let’s form a good relationship” or “please look after me.”
5. Goodbye: 안녕히 가세요 (Annyeonghi Gaseyo) and 안녕히 계세요 (Annyeonghi Gyeseyo)
There are two phrases you can use to bid goodbye to somebody, and they’re applicable in two different situations. If you’ve noticed, the difference between the two phrases lies in the suffixes: 가세요(gaseyo) and 계세요(gyeseyo).
가세요 (gaseyo) is the polite version of telling somebody to go. For instance, you’re a teacher and it’s the end of class. To bid your students goodbye, you’d use 안녕히 가세요 (annyeonghi gaseyo).
In the opposite scenario where you’re the person leaving whilst the other stays, you’d use the other term, 안녕히 계세요(annyeonghi gyeseyo).
The tricky part lies in the suffixes; it’s easy to mix the two since they sound quite similar. Start by being conscious and aware of the situation and which term is more applicable, and practise! Eventually, it’ll get easier.
These phrases are just a few conversational terms you’d be using in Korea. Bear in mind that Korean has 7 speech levels, and each level indicates the level of formality of a situation. In a country where societal hierarchy is observed, you wouldn’t want to subconsciously offend somebody by not using the proper verb paradigm.
If you’re looking to head to Korea, it’s highly encouraged that you enrol in Korean classes! On top of these basic greetings, you’d also learn Korean language fundamentals such as its writing script, grammar and syntax, amongst many other things. You’d be able to dish out more than just basic phrases, and hold your own conversation in Korean, with the help of experienced native Korean teachers!
We have moved our traditional Korean classes over to the digital space in order to safeguard your health and the health of others. For more information, don’t hesitate to give us a call!