Survival Korean

South Korea
South Korean flag.

South Korean flag.

Our trip to Korea is getting closer.  We’ve got pretty good at reading individual characters in hangul, but it’s not doing us much good.  I can  see when it’s pointed out to me that 부산  is Busan, the city where Emily lives, but I can’t decode it all by myself.  Hey ho.

So now we’re busy learning Useful Phrases.  This is proving so hard that we’re keeping the list to the minimum.

Will these get us by, do you think?

Hello:  안녕하세요 – annyeonghaseyo.

Goodbye: 안녕히 가세요 – annyeonghi kaseyo

Yes:  네 -Ne (how confusing…..)

No: 아니오  – anio

Please: 그렇세요  – kureoseyo

Thank you: 감사합니다 – kamsahamnida.

Bon appetit! 잘 먹겠습니다 – jal meokkesseumnida

Thank you for the meal: 잘 먹었습니다  – jal meogeosseumnida

What have we left out?  This is the most basic list remember, just to try to remain polite.  We’ve abandoned all thoughts of real communication.  And even this little list is taxing our poor brains.  I’m sure we’ll be fine …….

Now.  Can you translate this please?

Now. Can you translate this please?

35 thoughts on “Survival Korean

  1. Well, I know for sure that I’d be saying goodbye when I met someone and hello when I was leaving them 🙂 – it looks like just one 가 separates the two words. Good luck in all that, then! But … the characters ARE very pretty, aren’t they?

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    1. Let’s also add on the fact that they actually have two goodbyes – one for the person staying, and one for the person leaving (rather like come/go and how it changes depending on who is speaking or where they are speaking from).

      Person staying: annyeonghi gaseyo (안녕히 가세요)
      Person leaving: annyeonghi kyeseyo (안녕히 계세요)

      I mumbled a mixture between the two for my first few months here!

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  2. I am certain you will have a wonderful visit. Do remember that Emily speaks English and is rather a native, of sorts. Have fun and enjoy. Last year, I had two Korean girls and a Brazilian girl in my social studies class. It was their first year in America, I think the girls had been in America for only a few weeks when classes began last August. Your Korean characters brought back that memory. This year, I have a young man from Finland and another young girl from Brazil, I am certain there are others who are struggling with language in my room. Always something to be mindful of. Have a wonderful trip and I am looking forward to your posts! Bon voyage.

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    1. The only thing is, we won’t see too much of Emily, who’ll be working, and not able to travel with us. But apparently a little willingness to try Korean out goes a long way. We’ll be fine. Thanks!

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  3. I’m sure any Koreans you say ‘kamsahamnida’ to will be surprised and pleased that a Western tourist/visitor has bothered to try and learn a few words of Korean. Go for it! And, have a fabulous time with your adventurous, globetrotting daughter.

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  4. Instead of ‘please’ (which hardly anyone uses that way) I’d learn ‘주세요’ which means ‘please give me’. They tend to change verbs to politely mean ‘please’ rather than saying ‘Rice, please’ like we would. So ‘밥 주세요’ means ‘please give me rice’, which is nice and short and easier to remember than the long ‘please’ posted in your lovely list!

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  5. I get all tense just thinking about trying to learn something like this! It seems you are doing quite well but . . . you will definitely still need to rely on the kindness of strangers. I would learn the phrase, “do you speak English/French/etc.” to try and find a common language!

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    1. Outside Europe, I don’t know how much any other European language than English will help us much. We should be fine in big cities, less so in the country. We’ll be fine!


  6. I will look forward to hearing about your trip. I have always wanted to visit Korea and even had a Korean pen pal in high school. lIt will be an awesome trip I am sure. Safe travels and God be with you.

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  7. I sympathise completely. We had similar problems in Hong Kong and found it impossible to memorise even the simplest signs, exit & entrance for example. It worked in our favour on the bus: we got on and couldn’t work out how to pay. The rest of the passengers and the driver who were very unused to seeing westerners on that particular form of transport couldn’t work out how to tell us so we travelled for free! I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous trip, we loved SE Asia and had a very friendly reception although there is a lot of English spoken in Malaysia where we were most of the time.

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