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The most important vocabulary to know during your trip in South Korea

Korean is sometimes described as one of the world's most "scientific" languages. This is no doubt because it allows for a great level of precision. This must be what makes it so difficult for rookies travelling in Korea.

The Korean language

The language uses the Hangul (also known as Chosongul) alphabet, invented in the 15th century to replace the Chinese characters used previously. Later, Hangul would be forbidden for political reasons until the beginning of the 20th century. The Hangul alphabet consists of 40 symbols, and is therefore easier than the symbols of Chinese. These Chinese characters are still used by some, for example in universities and among intellectuals. A significant proportion of Korean vocabulary – approximately 60% – is borrowed from Chinese, and there are more and more borrowings from other languages such as Japanese, English and French. However, this is not the case with the Korean spoken in North Korea.

Avenue France, Seoul

Each region of the two Koreas has its own particular dialect which vary to differing extents from the official language. Korean is read from left to right and from top to bottom, with the exception of poetry which is still read as it was traditionally, from right to life or in columns.

Foreign languages in Korea

English is very widely spoken among young Koreans, who learn it from primary school age and often participate in exchange programmes with English-speaking universities. In college, students may study a further foreign language for two years: Japanese, French, German or Spanish. As Korea was a colonised by the Japanese between 1910 and 1945, many Koreans still speak Japanese.

Basic expressions / Common Words

UsaCoréen
Good morning / Good eveningAnnyong
I understand / I don't understandIhae / nan ihaega an dwaeyo
GoodbyeAnnyonghi kyeseyo
WelcomeHwan-yeong
Thank you (very much)Gamsahamnida
Excuse meSillyehamnida
No thank youGwaenchanhseubnida
Yes / NoNe / Aniyo

Commerce

UsaCoréen
How much is it?Eolmana ?
It is very cheapGeugeos-eun maeu jeolyeom
It is too expensive!Geugeos-eun neomu bissa
I like it / I don't like itNaneun salang / silh-eo
MoneyDon

Transportation

UsaCoréen
PlaneBihaengki
BoatBoteu
TrainKicha
TaxiTaeksi
BusBeoseu
I would like to rent ...Naneun imdaehago sip-eoyo...
MotorbikeOtobai
CarSeungyongcha
BikeJajeongeo

Directions

UsaCoréen
BankEunhaeng
Train stationKicha yeok
CentreDosim
HotelHoteil
HospitalByeongwon
Left / RightWen-jog / Orun-jog
North / South / East / WestBuk/nam/dong/seo

Numberssieben, acht, neun, zehn

UsaCoréen
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, tenana, tul, set, net, tasot, yosot, iglop, yodolp, ahop, yol
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixtysumul, sorun, mahun, shween, yesun
seventy, eighty, ninetyirun, yodun, ahon,
One hundredbaeg

Hours/Dates and daysDienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag, Sonntag

UsaCoréen
What time is it?Geugeos-eun myeochsi ibnikka ?
When?Eonje ?
YesterdayEoje
Today (morning/midday/evening)Oneul (achim/daenaj/jeonyeog)
TomorrowNae-il
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, SundayWol-yoil, hwayoil, suyoil, mog-yoil, geum-yoil, toyoil, il-yoil

Time to eat!

UsaCoréen
I am hungry / I am thirstyBaegopa / naneun mog maleun ibnida
It was deliciousMasisseosseumnida
What can you recommend?Mwol chucheon haeyo
I am vegeterianJeon chaeshikjuyija
It's too hotNeomu tteugeobda
I am allergicNaneun alleleugi ibnida
Sea foodHaesanmul
PeanutsTtangkong
GlutenGeullutin
WaterMul
Tee / CoffeeHongcha / Keopi
Beer / WineMaekju / podoju

Health / Emergency / Security

UsaCoréen
Where is the hospital?Eodi byeong-won ibnida
It hurts hereYeogi sangcheo
Where can I find the restrooms?Hwajangsil eun eodie issseubnikka?
Help!Dowajuseyo!
PoliceGyeongchal
DangerWiheom

Other

UsaCoréen
Have a nice day !Joh-eun halu !
Claire Perrin
Updated 26 October 2018

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