Got a trip coming up to Korea? Anxious that the locals wouldn’t understand you? Don’t panic! We are here to teach you 8 basic Korean travel phrases that will not only help you navigate around the bustling streets of Korea and interact at social settings but it will also help you disguise as a local among the real Koreans!
Here’s a little tip before we dive right into these simple Korean phrases. You might just want to write down these words in your “Notes” application on your phone or if you love the old school way of writing on a piece of paper, just scribble these words in your little notebook. Now you won’t ever forget these 8 basic easy-peasy words!
1. 안녕하세요 (An-nyeong-ha-se-yo) – Hello.
Every conversation begins with a hello! Although the word sounds pretty basic, this phrase is mandatory for me to include. This word is beyond any doubt the most regular word you would hear people in Korea say.
If you want to sound like the Koreans, the trick is to say the word quickly. By the way, it is totally normal for the Koreans to bow when they say 안녕하세요 “Annyeong haseyo.” You can try it too while you are there!
2. 감사합니다 (Kam-sa-ham-ni-da) – Thank you.
감사합니다 “Kamsahamnida” is another basic word but it is probably going to be your most used expression while you travel in Korea. You can also slightly nod while saying it as it conveys respect to the person you are talking too.
You can say it when someone directs your way, hands your food at a restaurant or even when you don’t quite understand what the adorable smiley face grandma who’s sitting next to you in the subway is saying. Just smile and say 감사합니다 “Kamsahamnida”.
3. 어디예요 (Eo-di-ye-yo…?) – Where is the…?
Unless you are like Patrick Star from SpongeBob SquarePants who enjoys living under the rock and doing nothing, chances are you will be using this term as you move about the city.
You can use it to find the nearest bathroom, subway, restaurant, your favorite clothing store at the mall or to hunt down the best Kimchi spot! As an example, you can say is 호텔 어디예요 “Hotel Eodiyeyo”?
4. 얼마예요 (Eol-ma-ye-yo?) – How much is it?
If you are a shopaholic, 얼마예요 “Eol-ma-ye-yo” is all you need to know before you splurge all your money on the Korean goodies! Let’s say it again! 얼마예요 “Eolmayeyo”
There is no need to worry about all the numbers and price as most of local vendors already have their calculators ready in their hands to help you with the digits!
5. 깎아주세요 (Kka-kka-ju-se-yo) – Give me a discount.
First of all, don’t use this at your local grocery store or at a mall. However, if you are at the traditional local market, you can definitely try bargaining.
If you can learn to pronounce the word like a real Korean, you will not only be able to disguise as a local but you can also save your bank account.
6. 있어요 – (iss-seo-yo?) – Do you have?
This verb is probably one of the most solid and useful in the Korean language. If you want to use it as a statement simply say (there is a ___) or if you want to use it as a question (is there a ___?) i.e: 빙수 있어요 “Bingsu issseoyo?” (Do you have shaved ice?).
A predictable situation would be, you in a grocery store looking for a Coke but you can’t find it. In this case, you just say 콜라 있어요 “Coke issseoyo?”
7. 주세요 (ju-seh-yo.) – Please give.
Use 주세요 “jusehyo” as a sign of politeness when you are requesting someone to pass you an object. You can say “juhsehyo” just by its own or you can say it after you have addressed what you want.
A typical situation would be you wanting to ask for the menu at a Korean restaurant because often times, you might find that the menu is not placed on the table. To ask for the menu, simply raise your hands and say 메뉴 주세요 “mehnyu jusehyo”.
8. 사랑해 (Sa-rang-hae.) – I love you.
If you watch a lot of Korean dramas, you probably have already figured that 사랑해 “Saranghae” is the most frequent expression used by the actors. 사랑해 “Saranghae” is an informal way people express their love to their loved ones.
If someone happens to tell you they love you in Korean, you can reply with 나도 사랑해 “Na-do sa-rang-hae” which simply means “I love you too.” If you want to know if someone loves you, you simply ask the question by raising the intonation of your voice. 사랑해? (Sa-rang-hae?)
Lastly, if you meet someone you happen to love so much in Korea, don’t hesitate to tell them 사랑해 “Saranghae”.
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