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Say Hello in the Korean Language


Symbols for Han-gul, the Korean alphabet, in Han-gul

The Korean language is often a topic of debate among linguists as there continues to be an absence of consensus about its origin. While there is information about the language at the time the script was invented (around the 15th century) – known as Middle Korean – not much is known about it before that time. Early Middle Korean words are said to have been put together by the Chinese as long ago as 1103. Anything before Middle Korean (also known as Old Korean) has been compiled using some 10th century poems called hyangga and place names. The poems are largely written using Chinese characters while indicating Korean sounds and meanings, making them extremely hard to decipher. There is also no agreement on the connection between Korean and other languages. There is, however, frequent linking to Japanese and Chinese because of the known contact in history with these languages. The influence of both these languages is also noticeable in present day Korean (also known as Modern Korean). Much like Japanese, Korean is a heavily formal and hierarchical language. So, how you greet someone in Korean varies based on whom you’re greeting. Unlike in Arabic and Japanese though, the greetings don’t change based on the time of day. So, if you’re wondering how to say hello in Korean, here are some common greetings you might find useful.

English: Hello My name is
Korean: Annyong ha shimnikka Che irumun (your name) imnida
Pronunciation: An-YOH HASHim-ni-kah Chay-rehMUN (name) imneeDAH
Korean Script: 'Hello' in Korean characters 'My name is' in Korean

Annyeong haseyo is the most common way to formally say hello in Korean to someone you don’t know. In informal settings, this greeting can be shortened to annyeong (pronounced an-nyeong) to greet family and friends. The honorific greeting annyeong hashimnikka (pronounced an-nyeong-ha-shim-ni-ka) is used to say hello in Korean in extremely formal settings. It’s more extensively used on the news or by business owners as a sign of respect to customers. While you might not end up greeting someone this way, you are likely to hear someone politely say it to you. Korean greetings are also accompanied with a bow much like Japanese greetings. To bow correctly, bend your head and waist without making eye contact with the other person. And depending on whom you’re greeting, vary the extent to which you bow – 45 degrees while formally greeting someone and 15–30 degrees while informally greeting someone you know. Also, remember to always greet someone older than you or in a position of authority with a deep bow.

Did You Know You Were Speaking Korean?

Words in English from the Korean language:

kimchee, kimchi tae kwon do

Korean Alphabet

Explore these links for information on the Korean Alphabet:

Learning Korean

Here’s more about the Korean language:

Korean Culture

These resources give an insight into the Korean culture:

Who Can You Talk To?

There are over 81 million people who speak Korean all over the world – mainly in North and South Korea, Thailand, China, Japan, Russia, the United States of America, and Singapore. Now, you can say hello in Korean to over 81 million people!* *Source: Ethnologue: Korean – (Register for free to access.)

Say Hello to the World was created by Lorri Mon.

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