The Top Korean Phrases You Need To Know

Headed lớn South Korea? These 15 expressions can be applied in numerous circumstances and will not only help you navigate the streets, markets and social situations you may find yourself in, but will also earn you a lot of respect from the locals.

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Although straightforward, this expression is a necessary inclusion & is without doubt the most common phrase anyone in Korea will use. There are dozens of variations to tài khoản for slightly different situations và levels of respect, which can get fairly complicated for the non-Korean speaker. The trick is to say it quickly & slur the syllables together. Vì this and everyone will understand you.

Just lượt thích its English equivalent, this expression should be used whenever you find yourself suddenly introduced to a new face. In formal settings, this expression is usually accompanied by a bow and a handshake lớn show respect.

This is probably the most important expression khổng lồ learn during your Korean travels. Use it exactly as you would its English equivalent. Don’t understand what the smiling halmeoni (grandmother) sitting next to you on the subway is saying? It’s probably a compliment; smile và say thank you.

Literally meaning, “Did you eat rice?” this phrase is used to lớn show your concern for someone’s well-being. In Korea, food – in particular, rice – is central khổng lồ the culture and was not always so easy khổng lồ come by. While Korea has an abundance of food now, the phrase still remains as a greeting khổng lồ show concern for others. If someone asks you this, simply reply “Nae, meo-geo-seo-yo” (Yes, I ate), which is the expected response, even if you haven’t actually eaten anything.

Literally, “little time stop”, use this to get the attention of others, ask them khổng lồ move out of the way or tell them to lớn wait. If you’re trying khổng lồ get off an elevator, for example, but no-one’s moving. Use this phrase khổng lồ politely maneuver your way through the crowd.

There are two ways lớn be apologetic in Korean. The first is an “I’m sorry I bumped into you” sort of apology, while the latter is more of a “I’m really sorry I forgot about your birthday, please forgive me”, kind of apology.

Slap this word on the over of just about any verb stem to make a polite request. Got a sudden food craving? Bibimbap, ju-se-yo! Thirsty? Kaw-pi (coffee), ju-se-yo! In need of some loving? Bbo bbo (kiss), ju-se-yo!


Unless you’re a hermit, chances are you will definitely use this phrase at some point, at the very least to find the hwajangsil (bathroom). You can also use it khổng lồ locate an thắng lợi at the supermarket, find the nearest subway station, or khổng lồ track down a good noraebang (karaoke room).

Fascinated by the many different cultures of Asia? We have trips in Japan, Thailand, India, and more that will satisfy your thirst for knowledge.

A must-know for any shopping trip, this phrase is pretty much all you need, since most vendors have calculators on hand lớn help out with the numbers. Browsing a traditional market and want lớn bargain a bit? Use the phrase bi-ssa-yo (it’s expensive) to see if you can’t get the salesperson to go down a few hundred won.

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Similar khổng lồ “Bon appetite”, this expression literally translates lớn “Eat a lot”. Following the Korean War, food shortages were widespread across the country. Therefore, this was a polite thing khổng lồ say while serving food to others.

If dining at a Korean’s home, or being treated khổng lồ a meal by a Korean, use this phrase before eating to show appreciation lớn your host. It’s similar lớn saying “Thanks for your efforts. I’m going to have a great meal because of you”.

If you haven’t noticed by now, table manners (not lớn mention food in general) are pretty important in South Korea. Just as you said the previous phrase before the meal, use this one following the meal to lớn once again thank your host for the food.

This is the informal way of saying, “I love you” and is used between people that are close, such as lovers, making it one of the most commonly used expressions in Korean dramas. If someone says “I love you” in Korean, then you can reply with “Na-do sa-rang-hae”, which means “I love you, too”. To make it into a question (Do you love me?), simply say it with a rising intonation (Sa-rang-hae?).

When you directly translate this expression – “Please go” – it may sound a bit harsh. But it is actually very polite and means that you wish the other person a safe journey wherever he or she is going. You can use this even if don’t know the destination of the person you are saying it to.

While the word comes from the English term “fighting”, it’s more of a cheer that Koreans use khổng lồ show encouragement và enthusiasm. It can also be used in sports, to cheer up someone who is having a difficult time, or to lớn wish a friend good luck on a blind date.

Curious about culture? Our trips are designed for travellers like you, who want khổng lồ get to lớn the heart of their holiday destination, và are led by our expert Local Insiders lớn make sure you bởi just that.

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