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Korean 101: Addressing People While Teaching in Korea

Posted on Mon, Jul 30, 2012 @ 08:30 AM

When teaching English in Korea, it's important to know basic phrases and names of places, but it's also important to know how to address people. As one of my last 'editions' of Korean 101, here's a list of how to address people in Korea.

Picture 1 resized 600teacher: 선생님 (sun-saeng-nim)- Academy or not, this is what the students call their teachers. It might sound weird when students call you “teacher” instead of Mr./Ms..., but it’s like calling your mom….well, mom and not by her name.

describe the imageacademy head/director: 원장님 (won-jahng-nim)- Like a principal of the school, all academies have a director or a manager. Most likely they are Korean, so you can address them by this title. 

academy teacher: 강사 (gahng-sa)- There’s a difference between school teacher and academy teacher in Korea. If you say this word when a Korean asks what your job is, they’ll know that you are an after school academy teacher.

IMG 4023 resized 600student: 학생 (hak-saeng)- Who you teach.

friend resized 600friend: 친구 (chin-goo)- Everyone needs a friend.

boyfriendboy/girlfriend: 남자친구/ 여자친구 (namja/yuhjah-chingoo)- Just like in English, add boy (남자) or girl (여자) in front of ‘friend’ to address your significant other.

foreigner resized 600foreigner (American): 외국인 (미국사람) [wae-gook-in (mee-gook-sah-rahm)]- Koreans like to address all non-Koreans as foreigners, rather than addressing them from the exact country they are from. However, if you do want to specify, say the country name before you say 사람 (sah-rahm). (ex. 미국 or America + 사람 or person)

taxidriver resized 600driver (taxi/bus): 기사님 (ghee-sah-nim)- Whatever public transportation you’re on, this is how you address the driver.

pups resized 600older brother/sister of a female: 오빠/ 언니 (oppa/ unni)- These words are used by females addressing their older siblings or peers. You’ll notice a lot of Korean girls calling their boyfriends 오빠. It’s almost irritating, since they say it in a whiny manner because they think it’s cute. Blech.

older brother/sister of a male: 형/누나 (hyung/ nuna)- Just like the previous words, these are used by males addressing their older siblings or peers.

little brother/sister: 동생 (dong-saeng)- No matter what gender, the younger ones are addressed by this.


Teach in Korea!

Aeri Park has had a multicultural history taking her from Seoul to Buenos Aires to Atlanta and back again. She graduated Emory University in 2008 and wanted to experience the culture of the place she was born. Aeri arrived in Suwon in 2010 and is now enjoying her second year teaching in Korea for Chungdahm in Pyeongchon. So far she has most enjoyed the food, fashion, and never ending list of places to explore. Follow Aeri to see where she goes!

Tags: teaching in Korea, a year in Korea, learning Korean, basic korean, places in korea

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