The Hallyu wave has spread worldwide, people are keen to visit South Korea and find their Oppa or Noona to live their K-Drama fantasy precisely as shown in the shows. After the 2020 lockdown and the sudden surge in K-drama ratings, fans are intrigued by the language. The word 'Saranghae', a finger heart gesture to show your love interest is on every K-fan's lips.
If you are planning to visit South Korea soon, you must gear up yourself with a few common phrases that people often use.
안녕하세요 – An-nyeong-ha-se-yo. – Hello
Although simple, this statement is essential to include because it is the most commonly used phrase in Korea. For the non-Korean speaker, there are dozens of alternatives to adjust for various contexts and respect levels. The secret is to slur the syllables together and speak them quickly. Everyone will understand if you do this.
감사합니다 – Kam-sa-ham-ni-da. – Thank you
This is perhaps the most crucial phrase to learn while travelling in Korea. Use it in the same way you would in English. Don't understand what the smiling halmeoni (grandmother) on the metro next to you is saying? It's most likely praise, grin and thank them.
Also read: 5 tips to help improve your vocabulary
잠시만요 – Jam-shi-man-yo. – Excuse me./Just a moment
Use the phrase "little time stop" to draw people's attention, ask them to move out of the way, or tell them to wait. For example, if you're trying to exit an elevator but no one is moving, for example. This remark can be used to gracefully navigate your way through a crowd.
최성합니다/미안합니다 – Chway-seong-ham-ni-da./Mi-an-ham-ni-da. – I'm sorry
In Korean, there are two methods to express regret. The first is an "I'm sorry I ran into you" apology, but the second is more of an "I'm truly sorry I forgot about your birthday, please forgive me".
어디예요 – Eo-di-ye-yo...? – Where is the...?
Unless you're a hermit, you'll almost certainly employ this phrase at some point, if only to locate the hwajangsil (bathroom). You can also use it to find a specific item in the grocery, the nearby subway stop, or a decent noraebang (karaoke room).
사랑해 – Sa-rang-hae – I love you
This is an informal way of saying "I love you," It is widely used amongst close friends or lovers, making it one of the most prevalent expressions in Korean dramas. If someone in Korean says "I love you," you can respond with "Na-do sa-rang-hae," which means "I love you, too." Simply phrase it with a rising tone (Sa-rang-hae?) to turn it into an inquiry (Do you adore me?).
화이팅 – Hwa-it-ting – You can do it!
While the word is derived from the English word "fighting," it is more of a cheer used by Koreans to express encouragement and passion. It can also be used in athletics to encourage someone if they had a bad day or wish a pal luck on a blind date.
얼마예요 – Eol-ma-ye-yo? – How much is it?
Travelling and shopping in South Korea the mandatory things to do. A must-know for any shopping trip, this expression is pretty much all you need since most vendors have calculators on hand to help out with the numbers.
모두 제일 좋다 (modu jeil johda) with your Korean language skills.