The Korean language is one of the most difficult in the world to learn. According to the Foreign Language Institute, the Korean language is among the top tier of difficulty for native English speakers to learn. Other Category V languages include Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, Arabic and Japanese.
To reach an acceptable level of fluency, at least 2,200 hours of study must be dedicated to learning. Throughout these hours of study, students will be required to listen to and use the Korean language in class.
Getting Food and Beverages
Learn the names of local dishes and be able to order food and a beverages. If traveling on a dime, eat from street carts, as they offer authentic, delicious Korean cuisine at a fraction of the price as restaurants. Popular chain restaurants that are popular with foreigners are far more expensive than street carts, and they serve as tourist traps. Use the following words and phrases to communicate thirst and hunger, politely order food, pay for the meal and depart.
I’m thirsty – Mog malla
I’m hungry – Baegopa
I want to eat ______(insert menu item here)_______. Naneun _______ (name of food) ______ meoggo sip-eo.
I want to drink _______(insert name of drink here)________. Naneun ________ ( name of drink ) _______ leul masigo sip-eo
How much is it? Eolma jyo?
Thank you very much. Jeongmal gamsahabnida.
Have a nice day. Joh-eun halu doeseyo
One – Han
Two – Du
Three – Se
Four – Ne
Five – Daseos
Six – Yeoseos
Seven – Ilgob
Eight – Teodeolb
Nine – Gu
Ten – Yeol
Eleven – Yeolhan
Twelve – Yeoldu
Thirteen – Yeolse
Fourteen – Sibsa
Fifteen – Yeol daseos
Sixteen – Yeol yeoseos
Seventeen – Sibchil
Eighteen – Sibpal
Nineteen – Yeol ahob
Twenty – Seumul
Twenty one – Isib-il
Twenty two – Seumuldu
Twenty three – Seumulses
Twenty four – Isibsa
Twenty five – Isib-o
Twenty six – Seumul-yeoseos
Twenty seven – Seumul-ilgob
Twenty eight – Seumul-yeodeolb
Twenty nine – Seumul-ahob
Thirty – Samsib
Common Korean Words and Phrases
Just like English speakers, the Korean speakers have phrases and slang words that are used in everyday life. Learn these words and the meaning of conversations becomes much clearer. To memorize these words, try working with and without a study partner. Get help from native Korean speakers whenever possible, as they will be of the most help with learning accents. It is also nice to help Korean speakers learn to pronounce English words better and lessen their foreign accents.
Tip: Watch Korean movies with and without subtitles. Try to understand the plotline while identifying basic Korean words and phrases. A great learning exercise is to choose one word to listen for throughout the film and count the number of times it is said. Any of the following words will work beautifully for this exercise.
Fun – Jaemi
Angry – Hwaga
Jealous – Jiltu
Stupid – Babo
Animal – Dongmul
Donkey – Dangnagwi
Happy – Haengbog
Impressed – Gamdong
Surprised – Kkamjjag
Very – Aju – aju san-eob
The best – Choego – JE
The most – Gajang
Almost – Geoui – jio kkoma
To be beautiful – Aleumdaun e – aleum dapda
Beautiful – Aleumdaun – yechi ui PEU ui DAH
Cook – Kug
Clean – Keullin
Run – Dalligi
Jump – Jeompeu
Play – Peullei
Sing – Nolae
Pay – Jibul
Money – Don
Date – Haljja
Today – Oneul
Tomorrow – Naeil
This weekend – Ibeon jumal
How to Make a Good Impression with the Koreans
The Koreans live in a very traditional society that has just recently been touched by globalization. These people are unaccustomed to the mannerisms and behavior of foreign travelers. Remember to research Korean customs, manners and other social mores that are interwoven into this ancient society. Memorize these words and phrases. Use them religiously while traveling. Make a good impression.
Mianhamnida – Sorry
I don’t understand – Moreuges seumnida
Do you speak English? Yong-o-rul hahl-jool asim-ni-ka?
Please speak slower – Cheoncheonhi malssuemhae jeseyo
Do you speak Korean? Hangukmal hasil jul aseyo?
Please – Jwe song ha ji mahn
Pardon me or I beg your pardon – Yongseohaejusibsio
It is nice to meet you. Mahn na bwep ge dwe o seo bahn gahp soum ni da
What is your name? Song-ha-mi o-teo-ke dwe-si-ji-yo?
My name is _____. Je-i-rum-eun_____ im-ni-da.
Take my seat, ma’am – Nae jali , bu-in eul
Thank You – Gahm say hahm ni da
As you wish – Dangsin-i wonhaneundaelo
How are you? Ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo?
I’m fine, thank you. Gahm se hahm ni da
Fine, thanks – Jaljinaeyo
You’re welcome – Chon mahn eh yo
Excuse me – Sil le hahm ni da
Good morning – Ahn nyong ha se yo
May I get you something to drink? Naneun dangsin-ege masil geos-eul eod-eul su issseubnikka?
Would you like something to eat? Dangsin-i meogneun mueos-inga leul wonhasibnikka?
Is there something I can help you with? Naega dangsin-eul doul su-issneun il i issnayo?
How may I help you? Naega eotteohge dowa deulilkkayo?
Good bye – Ahn nyong ga se yo
Words and Phrases for Members of the Family
Family is sacred to the Koreans, and it is very common for the people there to mention their families often in conversation. Understand that there are three generations living under one roof in many households. This is a traditional custom that honors the elders of the family while helping youngsters get the guidance, wisdom and supervision they need to flourish. This practice is unusual in the Western World, but solves a lot of problems within their society.
Husband – Nam Pyeon
Wife – Anae
Mom – Eomma | Umma
Dad – Appa
Son – Ahdeu
Daughter – Dtal
Sister – Noona (for a little brother addressing an older sister)
Sister – Uhnni (for a little sister addressing an older sister)
Sister – Yuh dong sang (for an older sibling addressing a younger sister)
Brother – Ohbpa (from a sister to her older brother)
Brother – Hyung (from a little brother to an older brother)
Brother – Nam Dong Sang (from an older sibling to a younger brother)
Aunt or Close Elderly Female (mom’s side) – Ee mo
Aunt (dad’s side) – Gho mo
Uncle (mom’s side) – Ee mo boo
Uncle or Close Elderly Male (both sides) – Sam chon
Uncle (dad’s side) – Gho mo bo
Grandmother – Ajumma
Grandfather – Ajosshi
Family – Kajok
Friends – Chingu
Dear – Yeobo
Darling – Chagiya
Taking Care of Basic Needs
When traveling to Korea for any reason, it is very important to research the country, its issues and what to do in case of an emergency. Have the embassy’s phone number and address available, and make sure it is written in English and Korean so that it can be shown to taxi drivers. Get more tips like these with a travel hacking course.
While traveling in Korea, it is rather important to know how to ask for necessities, such as food, water and shelter and to ask for directions or a restroom.
I’m hungry – Bae go pa yo
I need water – Mul eul pil yolo
Where is the closest hotel? Yeogiseo gajang gakkaun hotel-ibnida
Where is the hospital? Eodi byeong-won eun?
Please help me. Jebal dowajuseyo
I need the police. Gyeongchal i pil-yohabnida
I need my embassy. Nae daesagwan i pil-yohabnida
I need a restroom. Naneun hwajangsil i pil-yohabnida
Watch out – Josim
Be careful – Juui
Danger – Wiheom
Water – Mool
Continue to learn a few new Korean words and phrases every day and take foreign language learning courses to better prepare the mind for accepting all of this new information. With a properly prepared mind and motivation, this incredibly difficult language will become easier. Become part of an online learning community in order to get feedback on learning progress.
Yes – Neh
No – Ah nee oh
What did you say? Mo ra go greo shut ji yo
I don’t understand. Jal mo dara dut ge soum ni da
I understand perfectly. Choong boon hee I hae hah go I soum ni da
Do you speak English? Yong o rul hahl jool a se yo
I don’t speak English. Yong o rul hahl jool mo rum nida
I’m injured. Naneun busang hago issseubnida
I have a headache. Dutong-i iss-eoyo
My chest hurts. Nae gaseum i apayo.
With a friend – Chin gu rang
Car – Jadongcha
Motorcycle – Moteo saikeul
While the Korean language is exceptionally difficult to learn, this foreign language skill is highly valuable in the international marketplace, as well as domestically. With fluency in this language, new career paths are opened up and the possibilities are expanded. It is very beneficial to learn a new language, whether it be Korean, Arabic or Spanish.
If traveling to Korea, it pays to learn about the customs and cultures of the country, including etiquette, communications skills, basic vocabulary, survival phrases, any travel warnings released by the government and common travel knowledge to help stay safe. Start researching today and have a great trip tomorrow.