How To Say Hello In Korean

  • Donovan Nagel
    Written byDonovan Nagel
    Donovan NagelTeacher, translator, polyglot
    ๐ŸŽ“ B.A., Theology, Australian College of Theology, NSW
    ๐ŸŽ“ M.A., Applied Linguistics, University of New England, NSW

    Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator. Founder of The Mezzofanti Guild and Talk In Arabic.
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How To Say Hello In Korean

How do you say hello in Korean?

As youโ€™d expect, the first word or expression youโ€™ll cover in just about every Korean course or book is the term for hello or hi.

Before I get into Korean greetings, there are two things to remember in Korean culture when saying hi to people:

  • Age and status are everything in Korean culture.
  • Remember to bow while saying hi to a person (itโ€™s not always essential but if in doubt, just do it anyway as a courtesy).

As youโ€™re about to see, the choice of which greeting to use depends heavily on who youโ€™re speaking to, their age and status and your relationship to them.

Hello in Korean ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท

Below are the most common ways to say hello in Korean.

Annyeonghaseyo

Korean: ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”

Usage: Standard and most common way to say hello.

Youโ€™ll hear this one everywhere you go: ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” (Annyeonghaseyo).

์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” (Annyeonghaseyo) is the standard Korean greeting. Itโ€™s your go-to for saying hello in pretty much any context and the first word youโ€™ll attempt to pronounce in any Korean course (a mouthful at first!).

Letโ€™s break down ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”.

Itโ€™s a combination of ์•ˆ๋…• (Annyeong), which means peace, and -ํ•˜์„ธ์š” (haseyo), which is the verb โ€˜to doโ€™ (ํ•˜๋‹ค). So, putting them together, and youโ€™re literally asking, โ€œare you doing/at peace?โ€œ.

If someone says ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” to you, responding is simple.

Just use ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” right back.

Annyeong

Korean: ์•ˆ๋…•

Usage: Casual, informal way to say hello.

Moving on to the more casual option, you have ์•ˆ๋…• (Annyeong).

This is a term that youโ€™ll often hear among friends, peers, or when addressing someone younger than you.

์•ˆ๋…• is just the base of ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” (Annyeonghaseyo) without the formal suffix -ํ•˜์„ธ์š” (haseyo). Just like ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”, ์•ˆ๋…• carries the meaning of peace and wellbeing.

However, in this form, itโ€™s used in a less formal contexts, for example:

  • An adult greeting a child
  • Greeting a younger sibling
  • A teacher greeting a student
  • A boss greeting an employee (theyโ€™re more likely to use ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”, however)

Responding to ์•ˆ๋…• is the same as ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”.

Just like ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”, you can mirror the greeting by simply responding with ์•ˆ๋…• (or ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” if the person is older or of higher status).

Using ์•ˆ๋…• inappropriately can be seen as disrespectful or rude, so be mindful of who youโ€™re speaking to.

Annyeonghasimnikka

Korean: ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์‹ญ๋‹ˆ๊นŒ

Usage: Formal way to say hello.

์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์‹ญ๋‹ˆ๊นŒ (Annyeonghasimnikka) is for high respect and formality.

This is the most formal way to say hello in Korean, and itโ€™s typically used when addressing superiors, elderly people, or in other formal situations.

์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์‹ญ๋‹ˆ๊นŒ is again from the base word ์•ˆ๋…• (Annyeong), but with the addition of the formal suffix -ํ•˜์‹ญ๋‹ˆ๊นŒ (hasimnikka).

This suffix is a highly respectful form of the verb ํ•˜๋‹ค (โ€˜to doโ€™). The meaning is essentially identical to ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” but with an honorific form of the verb.

Responding is the same as above. Youโ€™ll repeat the greeting (but itโ€™s likely to be a less honorific form unless itโ€™s too high status people saying hi to each other).

์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์‹ญ๋‹ˆ๊นŒ is less commonly used in everyday conversations compared to ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” and ์•ˆ๋…•, but itโ€™s important to understand and utilize it in appropriate situations.

If you are meeting your boss, an elderly person or grandparent, or attending a formal event, use it.

Yeoboseyo

Korean: ์—ฌ๋ณด์„ธ์š”

Usage: Hello when picking up and answering the phone.

Phone calls are different. ๐Ÿ“ž

The phrase youโ€™ll want to remember for answering the phone is ์—ฌ๋ณด์„ธ์š” (Yeoboseyo).

In South Korea, ์—ฌ๋ณด์„ธ์š” is the standard way to answer the phone, regardless of whoโ€™s calling (you donโ€™t know whoโ€™s calling, so you canโ€™t predict an whether or not to use an honorific! ๐Ÿ˜Š).

์—ฌ๋ณด์„ธ์š” has a second usage.

When trying to get someoneโ€™s attention, especially if you donโ€™t know their name, you can use ์—ฌ๋ณด์„ธ์š”. For instance, if youโ€™re in a shop and want to ask the shopkeeper a question, you can use ์—ฌ๋ณด์„ธ์š” to catch their attention.

When youโ€™re on the receiving end of a phone call, thereโ€™s no special phrase needed to respond to ์—ฌ๋ณด์„ธ์š”.

Just start the conversation by introducing yourself or getting straight to the point of the call.

Remember, ์—ฌ๋ณด์„ธ์š” is specifically for answering phone calls or getting attention. Itโ€™s not used to say hi in person like ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” (Annyeonghaseyo) or ์•ˆ๋…• (Annyeong).

Eoseooseyo

Korean: ์–ด์„œ์˜ค์„ธ์š”

Usage: Greeting to customers walking into a restaurant or business.

Okay, so you probably wonโ€™t ever need to actually say this one yourself unless you work in a restaurant or shop.

But youโ€™ll hear it a lot! ๐Ÿ˜Š

When you walk into any Korean restaurant, youโ€™ll likely be greeted with ์–ด์„œ์˜ค์„ธ์š” (Eoseooseyo), which basically means โ€œPlease come inโ€ or โ€œWelcomeโ€.

This phrase is common in many Korean establishments. Itโ€™s a warm and welcoming expression used by shopkeepers, restaurant staff, or anyone who is welcoming you.

The word ์–ด์„œ์˜ค์„ธ์š” is a combination of ์–ด์„œ (Eoseo), which is hard to translate the nuance of (something like โ€œhurry alongโ€ or โ€œcome onโ€), and -์˜ค์„ธ์š” (oseyo), a polite way of saying please come in.

When combined, itโ€™s a polite invitation for you to enter and feel at home.

Thereโ€™s no set response required. However, a polite bow or a smile would be an appropriate acknowledgment, but ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” (Annyeonghaseyo) works too.

Ya

Korean: ์•ผ

Usage: Equivalent of hey.

์•ผ (Ya) is my favorite.

Itโ€™s a very informal and casual way to say โ€œheyโ€ or โ€œhiโ€ in Korean.

์•ผ is often used among very close friends or people of the same age. Itโ€™s the Korean equivalent of saying โ€œheyโ€ or even โ€œyoโ€ in English.

Be cautious with this greeting as it can come off as very rude if used with someone whoโ€™s not a close friend or someone older than you.

I actually used this word a lot when I was teaching if the kids were playing up and I needed to get their attention. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿซ

Thereโ€™s no expected reponse to ์•ผ.

Learning Korean slang like ์•ผ can make your conversations more natural and relaxed, but use it appropriately.

Other alternative Korean greetings

Here are a few other options for greeting people in Korean.

Korean PhraseRomanizationEnglish TranslationWhen to Use
์ž˜ ์ง€๋ƒˆ์–ด์š”?Jal jinaess-eoyo?Have you been well?Use when you havenโ€™t seen someone for a while.
๋งŒ๋‚˜์„œ ๋ฐ˜๊ฐ€์›Œ์š”Mannaseo bangawoyoNice to meet youUse when greeting someone for the first time.
์˜ค๋žœ๋งŒ์ด์—์š”Oraenman-ieyoLong time no seeUse when greeting someone after a long time.
์ข‹์€ ์•„์นจ์ด์—์š”Jo-eun achim-ieyoGood morningUsed as a morning greeting.

Korean greetings are easy but remember who youโ€™re speaking to

For the uninitiated to Korean culture, itโ€™s easy to forget the importance of who youโ€™re addressing.

Koreanโ€™s an easy language but politeness and honorifics are a learning curve for some.

If the person is higher status than you (workplace, elderly people, etc.), err on the side of caution and use ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์‹ญ๋‹ˆ๊นŒ.

For kids and people quite younger than yourself, use ์•ˆ๋…• (or ์•ผ if theyโ€™re really good friends).

If in doubt, ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” is generally safe to use with pretty much everyone, young or old, at any time of the day.

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I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
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