The Best Korean Phrases to Know

Image credited to Joaquin Uy

One of the best parts of traveling to South Korea for school, business, or pleasure is that you are not required to speak Korean. In fact, it is quite easy to get by in South Korea with a limited vocabulary.

Speaking English

Many Koreans speak English quite well. In fact, many foreigners living in South Korea are there teaching English. English to Koreans is like Spanish to Americans. More and more people are learning English. However, it is always nice to pick up another language. Here are few basic words and phrases you might find come in handy during your trip to Korea.

Image credited to Joaquin Uy

Image credited to Joaquin Uy

1. Hello!

  • Annyeonghaseyo (ON-young-HA-say-yo).
  • Korean Script: 안녕하세요.
  • Translation: Hello!

This is the formal way to say hello. If you are among friends, however, it is common to say “Annyeong” (ON-young). If you are speaking to someone older than you, you must use “Annyeonghaseyo.”

2. Thank you!

  • Gamsahabnida (COM-sah-mi-DUH).
  • Korean Script: 감사합니다.
  • Translation: Thank you very much!

You can simply say “Gamsahabnida,” but to show respect, you have to emphasize the middle and end of the word. So when saying it, you have to say gamsaaaaaahabnidaaaaa. You may think you are sounding condescending, but in all reality, you are better expressing your gratitude.

3. Give me water.

  • Mul jooseyo (MÜL jü-SAY-YO) ( ______ jooseyo).
  • Korean Script: 물주세요.
  • Translation: Give me water (Give me _________).

You may find this disrespectful to say to waiters or people working in retail, as you probably feel like you are demanding from them without saying “please.” “Please” is rarely used in Korean day-to-day life, so it is not a big deal to demand something just so long as you say “Gamsahabnida” after!

4. How much for this?

  • Olmahyeyo (OL-MA-ye-YO).
  • Korean Script: 얼마예요.
  • Translation: How much for this?

This phrase can be counterproductive, because if you ask how much for something, they will tell you in Korean. It’s a smart idea, though, to ask how much and carry around a calculator with you. This way they can type the price into it for you. Also, it’s not a bad idea to learn a few basic numbers for these situations.

5. Excuse me (formal).

  • Sillyehabnida (she-LAY-ah-me-DUH).
  • Korean Script: 실례합니다.
  • Translation: Excuse me (formal).

South Korea is a crowded place. So when you’re trying to navigate through the mess of people, saying this will hopefully give you some wiggle room to get by.

6. Where is the bathroom?

  • Eodi e hwojangsil? (oh-dee e ha-WONG-SHE).
  • Koran Script: 어디 에 훠장실.
  • Translation: Where is the bathrom?

It’s pretty self explanatory as to why this is a must-know phrase. However, sometimes, just saying “toilet” will do the trick.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Take the time to learn the name of your school, hotel, or business associates and learn how to pronounce them in Korean. This will be the best way to purchase tickets at the bus station and communicate to taxi drivers. Also, if you have a business card with the address on it, that will help you get around, too.
  • If you are in a restaurant and require service, you will use a less formal version of “Excuse me,” rather than the formal “Sillyehabnida.” Instead, shout “Yeogio!” (YO-ge-YO) at the wait staff. They don’t come to you to “check in” like wait staff does in the States. They either have buttons on the table you hit to call them, and if they don’t, you shout this phrase.

Throughout your trip, you’ll pick up many more words and phrases. Regardless of how limited your vocabulary may be it is still relatively easy to get around and communicate with those around you.

Kicking Off Summer with the Fête de la Musique

Nothing is more sacred than long vacations in France. To kick off the summer season, the French pull out all the stops on June 21, when the annual Fête de la Musique takes place in celebration of the summer solstice.

History of the Fête de la Musique

From its charming quaint villages to the Louvre in Paris, everyone is in the streets all night long for the Fête de la Musique.

In 1982, Jack Lang, Minister of Culture, conducted a study on French cultural habits. Inspired by the results indicating that one out of two French youth played a musical instrument, he decided to launch the first Fête de la Musique, an all night event in the tradition of the Saint Jean Festivals. The idea took off with free concerts around the country and is now one of France’s most popular cultural events and is also celebrated in major cities around the world.


Take a look at one of the previous years’ performances by Patrick Bruel…

This year’s 31st edition has something for every music taste in every quarter in Paris and throughout the country, from classical with the Paris Symphony Orchestra playing at the Louvre, to jazz, rap, world music and pop singers.

More from Deb Dutilh

Deb Dutilh is Relationship and Communication Maven who spent 30 years living in Paris and in Pau, France. Now living in Los Angeles, she helps clients around the world reignite their relationships and get back to talking, sharing and loving again.

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Bar Culture in Spain

Image credited to Mitch Engelking

Drinking is socially acceptable and even encouraged in Spain, although “drinking” does not bear all the same implications as it does in American society.

Casual Drinks

It is common to see men and women gathered in the early afternoon, or even in the late morning at a bar or outdoor patio sharing small glasses of wine or beer (generally a lager).

This is highly communal and casual, where the crux of the Spanish social life happens, because it’s rare to have friendly gatherings in the home. Adults will gather around the drinks while their kids run around playing fútbol or riding scooters through the plaza, and it’s not uncommon to see babies and young children sitting in the bar with their parents.

Image credited to Mitch Engelking

The Spanish Bar

In Spain, a bar or tavern (“bar” and “taberna” in Spanish) bears little resemblance to the dimly lit joints serving warm pints one would find in the UK, or the 5 o’clock, after-work spot where folks like to unwind with a stiff one.

In Spain, bars are open essentially from the morning until night, and cater to all ages of clientele. This is due to the fact that these establishments sell a limited range of alcohol, with usually only one beer on tap and numerous bottles of some sort of regional wine or cider. However, they do offer a large range of food, such as the Spanish tortilla, chocolate con churros, sandwiches, burgers, tapas, and more.

“Menu del Día”

In the mornings, an average Spanish breakfast will be a quick cup of coffee or hot chocolate and a small, sweet pastry. Then it is off to work until lunch, which is the main meal of the day known as “la comida”.

It is common for these bars and taverns to serve a “menu del día”, a cheap three-course meal consisting of bread and a mixed salad, potatoes or rice and a meat dish, and finally some sort of dessert or fruit bowl. One of the dishes will often include fish or seafood, fried or in a paella or stew. French fries are also common, as well as chicken, lamb, and pork. This is generally regarded as the most economic way to eat well in Spain, as these meals can be found easily anywhere and cost from 7€ to 15€.

Image credited ornello_pics

Image credited to ornello_pics

A Stiff Drink

Even though bars are not where people go to get drunk, you can still find a stiff drink in Spain. At night, most bars will begin to serve hard alcohol around 8 or 9pm. Common drinks are the gin and tonic, mojito, rum and coke, and sangria.

The wine and beer still flows, but there is also another uniquely Spanish drink called a kalimotxo, which is a delicious mix of 50% red wine, and 50% cola. Be advised that in a culture where even many teenage youths drink, people in Spain can hold their liquor. It is very obvious and embarrassing to be sloppy or belligerent while drinking in Spain, as well the rest of Europe.