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Korean Phrases You Should Know Before Going to Korea

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Cherry Blossom in Seoul

Cherry Blossom in Seoul

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

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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 :


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Naim H from Dhaka on August 29, 2015:

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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