Living in any country without knowledge of the language can be pretty tough. I have compiled a list of simple phrases that fellow English teachers in Korea should know.
Hello: 안녕하세요 (ahn-nyung-ha-seyo)- You use this phrase throughout the day. There is no separate good morning or good night. Don’t forget to bow while you say this!
Thank you: 고맙습니다/감사합니다 (go-map-seum-nida/ gam-sa-hap-nida)- It really does not matter which you choose to say because they both mean the same thing. My friend claims that he gets more acknowledge when he says the first one, but I honestly don’t think there is a difference.
What is this?: 이거뭐에요? (ee-guh-mo-ehyo?)- I tend to ask this when I’m in restaurants or in the street markets when I have no idea what something is.
How much is this?: 얼마예요? (uhl-ma-ehyo?)- Whether you’re shopping for clothes or foods in the streets, most vendors won’t put the price tag up in visible areas. In this case, say this phrase and they’ll tell you how much. Remember that if something has no price tag, it’s up for bargain!
Please give me a discount: 깎아주세요 (kka-kka-joo-seyo)- As I mentioned before, if there is no price tag on an item and the vendor tells you the price, most likely they jacked it up. In that case, say this phrase and be persistent. Add 더 (duh) at the beginning of the phrase if you want them to take off more.
Yes/no: 네/아니요 (neh/ ah-ni-yo)
Please give me… : …주세요 (…joo-seyo)- You can use this phrase in restaurants when you’re ordering or if you’re asking someone to get you something. You can add numbers behind this phrase to also say the amount.
I am hungry: 배고파요 (bae-go-pah-yo)- You might hear students saying this a lot, since they always seem to be hungry during class time. I have noticed that when I say this while I’m ordering food, they tend to give me more!
Where is…?: …어딨어요? (…uh-dees-suhyo)- Whether you are lost or looking for something/someone, this is the phrase to remember.
I’m hot/cold: 더워요/추워요 (duh-wuh-yo/ choo-wuh-yo)- Korea claims that it has all four distinct seasons, not like Georgia where it’s warm, hot, or extremely hot. If you’re really hot or cold, add 너무 (nuh-moo) before the phrase to say how you feel.
To get someone’s attention: 저기요 (juh-ghee-yo) This is a tough one to describe. Technically, it means “there.” However, when you’re in Korean restaurants or you need someone’s attention you say this phrase. They have different words for different uses of "excuse me."
I don’t know: 몰라요 (mol-la-yo)- As a Korean-American, many Koreans will come up to me and ask me for directions or something that I don’t know an answer to. In that case, I say this and they simply thank me and walk away.