Basic Korean Phrases to Learn
To say that it can be quite difficult to get around Korea without knowing some basic phrases is an understatement. Although most Koreans will be more than willing to adjust to foreigners and speak a couple of English phrases or two, it’d be rude not to at least try and learn their language as you find your way through Korea.
Having said that, learning a couple of basic Korean phrases will not only help earn you some admiring looks and sounds, but it will also make your time in Korea a whole lot easier.
Below, you’ll find a survival cheat sheet of words and phrases that will come in extremely handy for travellers. These are also covered in most Korean lessons in Singapore.
1. An yeong ha se yo – Hello
Straightforward, simple and very effective. While there are many variations of this phrase, mostly depending on the situation and who you’re talking to, you can mostly get away by speaking quickly and slurring slightly.
2. Kam sa ham ni da – Thank You
Another very simple phrase, but unlike “Hello”, you can use this anywhere and everywhere.
3. Pan gap sum ni da – Nice To Meet You
Often accompanied by a handshake or a bow as a sign of respect, this phrase typically follows “Hello” when you meet a new face.
If you’re unsure of whether to do a handshake or a bow, do the latter. It’s considered the more respectful thing to do.
4. Excuse Me – Cham Shi Man Yo
This literally translates to “little time stop”. Working your way through a tight crowd? Just say this phrase.
Say this phrase when asking other people to let you through or if to get them to wait. You can also use this to get other people’s attention for whatever reason.
5. I’m Sorry – Chay seong ham ni da
Saying sorry in Korea comes about in a multitude of ways. Usually, 2 main forms take precedence. The difference between the two is depending on the severity of your mistake.
This version is typically used for less severe mistakes, or for apologies of smaller magnitude.
6. I Can’t Speak Korean Well – Han Guk Mal Jal Mot Hae Yo
Self-explanatory, although the phrase could be a bit shorter.
While your foreign face might be a dead giveaway, it’ll help to learn this phrase asap. This can help you avoid all of those awkward stutters as you try to converse.
Korean is not an easy language to learn, but there are tons of resources online that can help you. Learning Korean in Singapore or taking Korean lessons in Singapore is also a pretty good idea.
Enrolling in a Korean language school in Singapore is especially useful if you plan on staying in Korea for long, like if you plan on studying there, or want to take a long vacation.
Either way, these six phrases should help tide you over until you start learning more basic phrases once you’re actually in Korea. Get a head start by learning Korean in Singapore before you make the flight.