Hi Guys, and welcome to d-5 of my countdown to my first EVER trip to Seoul. I’m very excited and while I have been preparing for many months, I wanted to share with you the final 10 days before I head out. Starting with, 5 useful phrases to know while you are in South Korea.
For this post I will be assuming that you already know how to say ‘Hello’ (안녕하세요), ‘Bye’ (잘가요), ‘Yes’ (네), ‘No’ (아니요) and ‘Thank You’ (감사합니다) (고마워요), so these are not included in my list. I will also be talking about manners and etiquette in later posts which are more focused on particular elements of your trip. So, now that I’ve explained all this to you, without further ado, here is my list of 5 useful Korean phrases to know for your first trip to Seoul.
1) 실례합니다! – ‘sil-rye-hab-ni-da’ – ‘Excuse me!’
Imagine this. You’re by yourself in the Mapo district in Seoul, you are in Seogyo-dong and you want to get to Gyeongbokgung Palace. You don’t know how to get there and your phone has died so you can’t look at a map. You need to ask someone for directions. How do you get someones attention to ask them where to go? You say “실례합니다!”
This is a polite way of attracting attention that should get who ever you want to ask know that you want to talk to them. It’s also better manners than tapping someone on the shoulder or on the arm, and is far more respectful than talking to a stranger without introducing yourself. But, by starting with 례합니다 you can then introduce yourself and ask for help.
2) ‘—에 어떻게가나요?’ – ‘—e-o-ttoh-ke-ga-na-yo?’ – ‘How can I get to —?’
‘—에가려면어떻게해야하나요?’ – ‘—e-ga-ryo-myon-o-tto-ke-hae-ya-ha-na-yo?’ – ‘How do I get to —?’
Okay. So you got the attention of a friendly ajumma (아줌마). Now to ask how to get to Hapjeong-dong. You would say “경복궁에 어떻게 가나요?” or “경복궁에 가려면 어떻게 해야하나요?” which means “How do I get to Gyeongbokgung?” or “How can I get to Gyeongbokgung?” Either of these are fine and should be clear enough for you to find out where you need to go. And, if you need to ask to go somewhere else you simply change the destination at the beginning of the question. For example, to ask how to get to Sinchon you would say “신촌에 어떻게 가나요?” If you needed to get to the closest subway station you would say “지하철에 어떻게 가나요?” (지하철 = subway station).
If you don’t know the Korean for left, right, ahead and back then it may also be useful to know that ‘left-ways’ is ‘왼쪽에’, ‘right-ways’ is ‘오른쪽에’, ‘ahead/across the street’ is ‘건너편에’ and ‘behind’ is ‘뒤쪽에’ or ‘뒷쪽에’.
3) ‘이것은얼마인가요?’ – ‘i-gos-eun-ol-ma-in-ga-yo?’ – ‘How much is it?’
‘이것은 몇원인가요?’ – ‘i-gos-eun-myod-won-in-ga-yo?’ – ‘How many won is this?’
When you finally get to Gyeongbokgung Palace and you get to the ticket office, you don’t see any signs telling you how much a ticket costs. In order to make sure you pay the correct amount you need to ask how much you need to pay. You can do this either by asking “이것은 얼마인가요?” or “이것은 몇원인가요?”.
4) ‘—-원더주세요.’ – ‘—-won-do-ju-se-yo.’ – ‘—- won more please.’
If you go to Gyeongbokgung Palace wearing Hanbok you can enter for free. However, if you need to buy a ticket an adult costs 3,000 won and a teenager costs 1,500 won. Imagine if once you asked how much a ticket costs you only had 5000 won. You pay with your note and the person in the office only gives you 1000 won back. For those of you who are maths whizzes you can probably tell that this isn’t the correct change. To ask for the remaining 1000 won you can say “1000원 더 주세요” or (chon-won do ju-se-yo). You can also use this phrase when at a restaurant, in a shop or in a market.
5) “–어를할줄아세요?” – “—o-reul-hal-jjul-a-se-yo?” – “Do you speak — ?”
And finally, in my opinion, the most useful phrase for me to know. If all else fails, you can ask if they can speak your first language. If I wanted to as if someone spoke English I would say “영어를 할 줄 아세요?” Below I have listed as many languages as possible in Korean so that you can learn what you might need to say:
영어 = English
독일어 = German
프랑스어 = French
이탈리아어 = Italian
중국어 = Chinese
일본어 = Japanese
스페인어 = Spanish
As I mentioned before I will be talking about lots of other elements of a trip to Seoul, including money, transportation, food and many other things. So if there is something you wanted to know that hasn’t been included it might be included in the next 9 days.
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