Saturday, April 9, 2011

Korean Basic Expressions for First Time Travellers

Chatting with friendly locals. You'll find most high school kids are more likely to approach foreigners. I somehow feel that they are 'encouraged' to do so, for good practice, I suppose? They're friendly bunch, nevertheless :)

Part of the excitement traveling in foreign country to me is to learn new language. With vast information in the internet, you don't necessary need to enroll a special class when you have YouTube, phrase books or even KBS in Astro (Malaysian TV satellite subscription).


Help is on the way. We found this 'mobile travel info desk' while roaming in Insadong. As the tag indicate, yes, they speak English :)

Also, you just need to know a few essential words. I believe every travelers must learn a bit or two for these situations;
  • Greeting people and expression (thank you, sorry, excuse me)
  • Shopping: Asking for a bargain and the price. For price haggling, I'll just use my phone's calculator and show them the numbers that I want to bargain. All numbers are the same after all.
  • Direction inquiries or using public transportation.
  • Food language.

So here's some traveler's essential basic expression:

Important phrases Meaning (English)
Anyeong haseyo
Hello/G'Morning/G' Night/ G'Afternoon
Anyeoung hee geseyo Goodbye (when you're leaving)
Anyeoung hee gaseyo Goodbye (when someone is leaving)
Gamsahamida Thank you
Yeh Yes
Aniyo No
Sillyehamida Excuse Me
Mi-an-hamnida/Me-anneyo I'm sorry
[insert location] hangeeyo To....please.
Yul-mah-yeyo How much please?
Kah-ka juseyo Please lower the price
No-moo-bee-sah It's expensive
Mah-tee-tu-yo Delicious
Yung-guh-hal-jool-ahseyo Do you speak English?
Chou-nun-hangung-malchal moteyo I speak a little Korean
Moh lu get-tuyo I don't understand
Han One
Doo Two
[insert location] o-di-ye-so tayo?
Where can I get...?
I-jjok This way
Jeo-jjok (jo-jok) That way
Oeruenjjok (o-ren-jok) Right
Oenjjok (o-wen-jok) Left




Some first timers (including me) tend to get confused with Japanese and Korean language cos it sounds almost alike. But if there's one apparent difference is that Japanese has five distinctive vowels (a, e, i, o, u) which Korean tend to have more vowels. Similarities? Just like Japanese, the usage of some words in Korean language/Hangul differs from seniority and casualties among friends. Some phrase might sound "rude" to certain audience, so you might want to double check with someone who knows Korean well.

Hide This Korean Phrase Book RM24.90 (ISBN: 9789812685841). More info here

I've had about two weeks of my own "crash course" in Korean and for this I've basically...
  1. Watch YouTube with keywords "Korean" "travel" "phrase" "expression"
  2. Bought a pocket size Korean phrase book. I find this a good guide, but still not enough to explain the sound and pronunciation of phrases
  3. Watched KBS in Astro and try to immitate how Koreans speak. It's FUN!
Now that you know, let's learn Hangul! :D
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