Your dad told you you’re going to Korea. Your mom’s got your visa ready. Your brother hands you your passport and you’re already on the plane! But, is your “Korean” ready yet?

Asides from the basics, 안녕하세요 annyeonghaseyo (Hello), 감사합니다kamsahamnida (Thank You) and 죄송합니다 joesonghamnida (Sorry) here are ten (10) phrases and words you need to know to somehow “survive” Korea.

  1. 어디예요? eodiyeyo | Where?

I’m sure from your four (4) hour plane ride, the first thing you have to go to is the toilet. So knowing this phrase, “어디예요?” is a great way to start your trip. To use this phrase just follow this pattern:

 [PLACE] + 어디예요?

Example: 화장실 어디예요? (hwajangsil eodiyeyo) | Where is the toilet?

M 호텔 어디예요? (M hotel eodiyeyo) | Where is the M hotel?

  1. 주세요. juseyo | Please give me.

You probably might be hungry by the time you arrive at your hotel. You go in to a restaurant and point at the pictures in the menu. But, how do you say you want it? It would be best if you “know” the name of the food in Korean but, if you don’t, just point it out and say “주세요”.

[THING] + 주세요.

Example: 물 주세요. (mul juseyo) | Water, please.

비빔밥 주세요. (bibimbap juseyo) | Bibimbap, please.

  1. 이거 & 그거 igeo and keugeo| This and That.

In connection with number two (2), what if you want something but you forgot what’s it called in Korean and you feel kind of awkward just saying “juseyo”. What if you forgot what Song JoongKi ate in “DOTS”. Just kidding. You can always use, “이거요” and “그거요”, to help you out.

Example : 이거 주세요. (igeo juseyo) | This, please.

  1. 얼마에요? eolma-eyo| How much?

You already freshened up at the hotel and you’re ready to shop! First stop, Myeong-dong, Korea’s shopping district! You see all the cute socks, cosmetics and even street food, just right around every corner! I’m sure you have to ask “얼마에요?” right? Usually, we just point out the object we want to buy and say: “이것 얼마에요? | How much is this?” but, just in case, here’s the pattern:

[THING] + 얼마에요?

Example: 이거 얼마에요? (igeo eolma-eyo) | How much is this?

양말 얼마에요? (yangmal eolma-eyo) | How much for the socks?

  1. Numbers

There are two (2) kinds of Korean numbers, Sino- Korean and Native Korean. Sino-Korean is used for money, dates, phone numbers and the like. Native Korean is used to count items and age. Numbers of the Native Korean varies, depending on the usage. If you want to say you want two (2) pieces of something, you have to drop “ㄹ”- which is the “L” sound and add “개” (kke). Same goes with number three (3) and four (4), dropping “ㅅ” this time. So, instead of saying “둘개”, you say “두개”.


Example :  구 천원 (gu-cheon-won) | 9,000W

세개 주세요(se gge juseyo) | Three (items), please

다섯개 주세요 ( daseot gge juseyo) | Five (items), please

  1. 백, 천, 만 (원) baek, cheon, man (won) | Currency

In transacting, you need to know not just the value of their money but, what they’re called. When ajumma’s calculator is not working, you better get your ears ready!

100- 백원 (baek won)

500- 오백원 (o-baek won)

1,000- 천원 (cheon won)

5,000- 오천원 (o-cheon won)

10,000- 만원 (man won)

50,000- 오만원 (o-man won)

*Note that when you want to say “100”, there’s no need for “일” (il) to be present. It’s not “일백원”, it’s simply “백원”. Same goes to the other “1”s. This was my mistake and I hope you’ll learn from me.

  1. 있어요/ 없어요. isseoyo/ eopseoyo | Is there? / There isn’t?

Coming in to a store and you’re not sure if they have the shirt size you want or the color you prefer? “있어요/ 없어요”, can be handy!

[THING] + 있어요/ 없어요?

Example: 다른색 없어요? (dareun saek eopseoyo?) | Is there no other color?

XS 있어요? (XS isseoyo?) | Do you have XS?

  1. 괘찮아요. gwaenchanh-ayo | It’s okay.

Going back to number 8, what if the color of the shirt you wanted runs out of stock and the saleslady comes in and says “죄송합니다”. You reply, “괘찮아요”. Oops! Almost forgot, saying “괘찮아요” comes with a smile.

  1. 실례합니다 sillyehamnida | Excuse me.

If it’s too crowded inside the train, which only happens when you “night out” at Gangnam, you say “실례합니다” to pass by the crowd- respectfully. You can also use this when you want to ask directions to a random stranger. Say “실례합니다” followed by your question.

  1. 으로 가주세요 euro ka juseyo | Please go to.

You’re tired from all the shopping and all you want is to ride a taxi. Use “으로 가주세요” to tell the driver where you want to go.

[PLACE] 으로 가주세요.

          Actually you can simply hand out a calling card or flyer of the place you want to go to and say, “여기 가주세요”.

I hope you find these phrases and words helpful. I survived Korea with these at hand, so I wish you would too.

If you want to learn more about Korean, just visit the Korean Cultural Center (KCC) for more information.

Written by Krew Member: Max Chua


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