We have heard many different kinds of “sorry” expressions while watching K-dramas but never really understood what’s the difference. There are many ways of expressing “sorry” in Korean and it’s used quite often in daily conversations. Here are 10 ways on how to say “sorry” in Korean.
1. 죄송합니다 Jwe-song-hab-ni-da
This is the most formal way of saying sorry in Korean. You can use this way of saying sorry mostly as it is polite and respectful.
Example: 늦어서 정말 죄송합니다 김사장님.
(neuj-eo-seo jung-mal jwe-song-hab-ni-da kim-sa-jang-nim)
I’m so sorry for being late Mr.Kim. (boss)
2. 죄송해요 Jwe-song-hae-yo
A less formal way to say sorry. This phrase can be used while speaking to people older than you like your teacher or professor.
Example: 책 안 갖고 와서 죄송해요 선생님.
(chaek ahn gat-go wa-seo jwe-song-hae-yo sun-saeng-nim)
I’m sorry for not bringing my book, sir.
3. 미안합니다 Mi-ahn-hab-ni-da
This is more formal as hab-ni-da is added behind. It is used among people around he same level but you’re not so close with.
Example: 시간이 좀 급해서 미안합니다.
(si-gan-yi jom geub-hae-seo mi-ahn-hab-ni-da)
Sorry, I’m running a little late.
4. 미안해 Mi-ahn-hae
This is slightly more formal than mi-ahn but it’s also an informal way of saying sorry. It is most used among casual conversations such as with families or lovers.
Example: 자기야, 미안해 용서해줘라, 응?
(ja-gi-ya mi-ahn-hae yong-seo-hae-jwo-ra, eung)
Honey, I’m sorry~ please forgive me, pretty please?
5. 미안 Mi-ahn
Mi-ahn is the most informal way to say sorry. It is used for extremely close friends or younger siblings.
Example: 혜리야, 이따 못 만날 것 같아, 미안!
(hye-ri-ya yi-dda mot man-nal geot gat-a mi-ahn)
Hyeri, I think we can’t meet later, sorry.
6. 저기요 Jeo-gi-yo
This is a little different from sorry. The meaning of jeo-gi-yo means excuse me. It is often used in restaurants while you call for the waiter.
Example: 저기요 물 한잔 주세요.
(jeo-gi-yo mul han-jan ju-sae-yo)
Excuse me, I would like to have a glass of water.
7. 잘못했습니다 Jal-mot-haess-seub-ni-da
This is used to admit your own wrong and when you want to ask an apology formally.
Example: 제 실수입니다 잘못했습니다.
(jae sil-su-yib-ni-da jal-mot-haess-seub-ni-da)
It is my mistake, I’m sorry. (Please accept my apology)
8. 실례합니다 Sil-lae-hab-ni-da
This phrase is used to say sorry if you happen to interrupt into a conversation or maybe an event.
Example: 실례합니다 화장실은 어디있어요?
(sil-lae-hab-ni-da hwa-jang-sil-eun eo-di-yiss-eo-yo)
Sorry for interrupting, may I ask where is the restroom?
9. 용서해주세요 Yong-seo-hae-ju-sae-yo
The meaning of this phrase means to please forgiveness. Usually you will say this phrase while pleading someone to forgive you.
Example: 떄려서 죄송합니다, 용서해주세요.
(ddae-ryeo-seo jwe-song-hab-ni-da yong-seo-hae-ju-sae-yo)
I’m sorry for hitting you, please forgive me.
10. 진심으로 사과드립니다 Jin-sim-eu-ro Sa-gwa-deu-rib-ni-da
This phrase means to apologize very sincerely and deeply. It is usually used when someone feels extremely guilty.
Example: 아까 대표님을 못 알아뵈서 진심으로 사과드립니다.
(ah-gga dae-pyo-nim-eul mot al-ah-bwa-seo jin-sim-eu-ro sa-gwa-deu-rib-ni-da )
I am extremely sorry for not recognizing (CEO) just now.