Today, October 9, both North and South Korea are celebrating the Korean Alphabet Day. Called Hangul Day in South Korea and Choson gul Day in North Korea, it is a commemorative day marking the invention and proclamation of Hangul, the Korean language’s alphabet. Hangul was created by 15th Century monarch Sejong the Great.
Nowadays, however, Koreans aren’t the only ones who know how to read and write in hangul. That’s because with the popularity of hallyu or the Korean wave/culture, many international fans–including Filipinos–are actively learning Korean to be able to understand the shows they watch better, or communicate more easily with their Kpop idols. (Read: Relieve Your Stress With These 3 Korean Entertainment Shows)
Some also study the language and alphabet if they want to travel to South Korea to experience the country’s vibrant culture and cool weather. And if you’re one of these people who want to travel to Korea after the pandemic, read on to learn some basic phrases you can use when you’re finally there! This is My Pope Philippines’s way to celebrate Hangul Day alongside millions of Koreans who love their language!
Basic travel questions and phrase
These are some Korean phrases you can use to greet others, or ask for directions and help.
- Annyeonghaseyo (Hangul: 안녕하세요)
This is the formal way of saying hello. Formality is a big deal in the Korean language, especially if you’re talking to older people–similar to how we Filipinos use po and opo when addressing elders.
- Dowajuseyo / Dowajushigesseoyo? (Hangul: 도와주세요 / 도와주시겠어요?)
(Help me / Can you help me?)
You use any of these two Korean phrases to ask for help. The first one, dowajuseyo, means “Help me”, while the second one is “Can you help me?”.
[place] eodi isseoyo? (Hangul: [곳] 어디 있어요?)
(Where is [place]?)
If you want to ask about a certain place or spot, use this phrase. The sentence translates to “Where is [place]?”. It is to be noted that when saying it in Korean, you first mention the place then the question. The Korean sentence structure is different from English structures in that it’s sort of reverse–just like in this sentence where you would mention the place first in Korean, but mention it last in English.
You can also use “[place] kkaji etteohke gayo?” (Hangul: [곳] 까지 어떻게 가요?) if you want to ask for directions on how to get to a place.
Gileul ilheosseoyo, dowajushigesseoyo? (Hangul: 길을 잃었어요, 도와주시겠어요?)
(I’m lost, can you help me?)
Got lost going back to your hotel? Say this phrase to a friendly-looking face on the street to ask for help. This means, “I’m lost, can you help me?” (Read: WATCH: DOT Gives Tips for Safe Travels in Breathtaking Video Ad)
[place] (eu)ro gayo. / [place] kkaji deryeoda jul su issnayo? (Hangul: [곳] (으)로 가요. / [곳] 까지 데려다 줄 수 있나요?)
(I’m going to [place] / Can you take me to [place]?)
To tell the bus or taxi driver to take you to a certain place, tell them either of these two Korean phrases. The first translates to “I’m going to [place]”, while the second says, “Can you take me to [place]?”.
- Kamsahamnida (Hangul: 감사합니다)
Of course, after asking for help, it’s just appropriate to say thank you to them. Tell them kamsahamnida, the polite/formal way of saying thank you, after they helped you with directions or an emergency.
When dining in restaurants or ordering food
Here are some Korean phrases you can ask and say in restaurants when you’re going on a food trip.
Chucheonhaejushillaeyo? (Hangul: 추천해주실래요?)
(Can you recommend me something?)
Want a recommendation from the restaurant staff themselves? Ask them for one using this phrase that’s quite a mouthful! It translates to “Can you recommend me something?” in English.
Eoddeon ge jeil manhi pallibnikka? (Hangul: 어떤 게 제일 많이 팔립니까?)
(What is your best seller?)
A best-seller is always the way to go when ordering abroad. So to ask the server which are their best seller dishes, practice this phrase before your flight! (Read: Slow Tourism is the New Normal of Traveling – Here’s What it Means)
I yorieui jaeryoneun mwoyeyo? (Hangul: 이 요리의 재료는 뭐예요?)
(What are the ingredients in this dish?)
It’s not easy to get sick when in a foreign country–your insurance isn’t honored, your personal doctor isn’t available, and of course, you’re thousands of miles away from home. So if you have food allergies, it’s always handy to know how to ask if any of the food a restaurant has is safe for you to eat. Best put this phrase, which means “What are the ingredients in this dish?”, saved in your phone’s notes app.