Saying 'Hello'
in Korean

There are numerous ways to say Hello in Korean. Check out how and when to use each different greeting!

Whilst on tour in North Korea, as with anywhere in the world, a little language learning can go a long way.

And learning Hello in Korean is certainly no exception to this! 

Nobody expects tourists to understand any Korean before going to Korea since it’s so complex. Although, it’s always handy to have a few phrases in your back pocket to surprise your Korean guides or any locals you may interact with during your trip.

Saying Hello in Korean is a handy skill to impress any people you meet on your trip.

But actually, it's not that simple. 

Here’s a quick overview of different ways to say hello in Korean. These greetings range in formality, so take care not to use informal language with your superiors or seniors. The idea of politeness to your superiors is incredibly important in Korean and is even engrained into the language.


Hello in Korean | Formal

 An·nyong·ha·sim·ni·kka
안녕하십니까

In South Korea, you’ll rarely hear this used outside of formal environments; however, in North Korea, it’s the standard. This is what you should be using towards people you haven’t met before, people who are older than you or people who you are not particularly close to but are a similar age to you.

Northern Korean is generally spoken more formally than southern Korean.

In brief; there are two main language levels in Korean. Both are used in both countries, although in North Korea, the formal level is used day-to-day whereas in the south, the more informal level is used more often.


Hello in Korean | Standard / Informal

  An·nyong / An·nyong·ha·se·yo
안녕 / 안녕하세요

These are the standard informal ways to greet someone. Annyonghaseyo is the standard greeting in South Korea due to the general informality in the language.

Annyeong is limited to use between close friends and is a very casual way to say hello in Korean.

Annyeonghaseyo can be used, although it’s best to limit this to saying hello to Korean children since you can be sure that you are older than them.

Using this in the wrong place could risk offending someone since it almost implies that you are their superior.


Hello in Korean | Morning

 Cho·un·a·chim·im·ni·da
좋은아침입니다

Literally ‘Good Morning’ – feel free to use this when saying hello in Korean when you meet them first thing in the morning.

A more informal term would be just 좋은아침 (Cho·un·a·chim), however, this should only be used between close friends.


Hello in Korean | Greetings 

 Ma·na·so·pan·gab·sum·ni·da
만나서 반갑습니다

This greeting translates to ‘Nice to meet you’ or ‘I’m glad to meet you’.

This can be a polite way to say hello in Korean to someone you haven’t met before.

In North Korea, ‘Pangapsumnida’ is the name of a famous pop song by the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble.


Hello in North Korea | Addressing People

In North Korea, there are 6 main ways to formally address people.

Rather than using someone’s name, it can be polite to use an honorific (title) during the conversation. Here are the honorifics to choose from:

  • 동지 | Tong·ji – ‘Comrade’ – used when addressing a superior or someone who is older than you. This can also be added after the addressee’s name.
     
  • 동무 | Tong·mu – ‘Comrade’ – used when addressing someone of a lower rank than you, or who is younger than you. This can be used when talking to children to add a touch of socialism to your conversation. This can also be added after the addressee’s name.
     
  • 형 | Hyong – Used when a male addresses a senior male. Technically the term means older brother (if you are a male).
     
  • 오빠 | Oppa – Used when a female addresses a senior male. The term translates to older brother (if you are a female).
     
  • 누나 | Nuna – Used when a male addresses a senior female. The direct translation means older sister (if you are a male).
     
  • 언니 | Onni – Used when a female addresses a younger female. Technically, the term translates to younger sister (if you are a female).


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