It is important in any language to learn basic greetings. However, in a conservative culture like Korean culture, it is more important to learn to greet someone correctly to avoid insulting someone unintentionally. The standard formula for saying hello in Korean, used among adults who do not know each other, is 안녕하세요 (an-nyeong-ha-se-yo). If you are talking to friends or family, there are less formal greetings. There are also words and phrases you can use to greet others depending on the context and the time of day.
Method 1 of 2: Show politeness and respect
Step 1. Say 안녕하세요 (an-nyeong-ha-se-yo) for a first meeting
If you are an adult and talking to someone you don't know, 안녕하세요 (an-nyeong-ha-se-yo) is the best choice for saying hello. This greeting is considered quite formal and it shows your respect for the person you greet.
- This greeting can also be used in any context where it is important to maintain a certain degree of formality, for example at work, even if you are speaking with someone with whom you have a friendly relationship.
- Children also use this formula to greet adults.
the 요 (yo) at the end tells you it's a polite formula. Every time you see 요 (yo), you know the word or phrase in question is polite and generally acceptable between adults to show some respect.
Step 2. Use 안녕 (an-nyeong) when talking to children
안녕 (an-nyeong) is a shorter, less formal form of the basic formula 안녕하세요 (an-nyeong-ha-se-yo). This greeting is generally used between children and members of the same family. However, it will rarely be used by adults, unless they are greeting a child.
안녕 (an-nyeong) is also often used among friends. However, for adults over 30, this formula is usually only heard in women. Men rarely use it, unless it is aimed at a child. In Korean society, it is generally seen as inappropriate for an adult male to use an expression otherwise used by children
안녕 (an-nyeong) is used to say "hello" and "goodbye". However, 안녕하세요 (an-nyeong-ha-se-yo) is only used to say "hello".
Step 3. Try other informal greetings if you are an adult male
An adult man in Korea never greets his friends by saying 안녕 (an-nyeong), as it is a phrase used by women and children. However, there are many other formulas that men can use to greet friends, a little less formal than 안녕하세요 (an-nyeong-ha-se-yo), but which still contain a certain degree of politeness. Here are a few.
- 반갑다! (ban-gap-da): it means: "it's good to see you" and it is one of the most common forms of greeting between adult men. It can also be used by adolescents and children.
- 잘 지냈어? (jal ji-ne-sseo?): similar to "how are you?" ", This formula means:" are you well? It is prevalent among adult male friends. Teens and children can use it too.
- 오랜만 이야 (o-ren-ma-ni-ya): "it's been a while", this expression is used among adult male friends who haven't seen each other for a while. Children and adolescents will also use it in the same context.
- 얼굴 보니까 좋다 (ul-gul bo-ni-gga jo-ta): "It's good to see your face" is a more familiar phrase used only among adult friends.
Step 4. Use 안녕하십니까 (an-nyeong-ha-shim-ni-ka) in a trade
안녕하십니까 (an-nyeong-ha-shim-ni-ka) is a very formal way of saying hello in Korean and is typically used by the manager of a store to show respect for his customers. It is designed to demonstrate a great deal of respect and deference.
- Even if you aren't going to hear it in every store and restaurant you go to, you are likely going to hear it in more upscale places. Airline employees are also likely to greet you with this phrase.
- You might hear it while you're in Korea, but you're probably never going to use it yourself unless you're working in customer contact in South Korea. If you use it in any other context, your interlocutors may feel embarrassed.
Step 5. Follow polite expressions with a salute
When greeting someone using a formal formula, tilt your head and bend 45 degrees at waist level while looking down. If you use a polite greeting with someone you know, lean only 15 or 30 degrees.
- The magnitude of your salvation depends on the person you meet and the context. Some people older than you or in positions of authority are greeted with a slanted salute.
- Never make eye contact with the person in front of you as you lean forward. It is considered rude.
Method 2 of 2: Use other types of greetings
Step 1. Answer the phone with 여 보세요 (yeo-bo-se-yo)
여 보세요 (yeo-bo-se-yo) is a way of saying "hello", but it is only used when answering the phone. It is inappropriate and almost rude to say it in person or in any other context.
Since this formula ends in 요 (yo), it is considered polite and appropriate, regardless of who is on the phone
Step 2. Switch to 좋은 아침 (jo-eun a-chim) in the morning
As in French, there are no specific greetings in Korean depending on the time of day. However, in the morning you can use 좋은 아침 (jo-eun a-chim) which literally means "good morning".
Even though people will understand what you are saying, this is not a very common greeting. It's best to use it with people you know pretty well, especially if one of them told you first
Step 3. Use 만나서 반갑 습니다 (man-na-se-o ban-gap-seum-ni-da)
만나서 반갑 습니다 (man-na-se-o ban-gap-seum-ni-da) more or less means "nice to meet you". If you are meeting someone in a formal or professional environment, this is the phrase to use.
- Remember to lean forward as you say it unless you've already done so.
- This formula is also appropriate when meeting someone who looks older than you or in a position of authority.
Step 4. Try 만나서 반가워요 (man-na-se-o ban-ga-wo-yo)
만나서 반가워요 (man-na-se-o ban-ga-wo-yo) is the informal version of 만나서 반갑 습니다 (man-na-se-o ban-gap-seum-ni-da) for use with people from your age and also means "nice to meet you". This expression is appropriate when meeting someone for the first time your age or younger than you.
Remember to pay attention to the context as well as the age of the person you greet. If you only meet people your age in a professional or formal setting, you will usually say 만나서 반갑 습니다 (man-na-se-o ban-gap-seum-ni-da). 만나서 반가워요 (man-na-se-o ban-ga-wo-yo) is appropriate in relaxed social settings, such as if a friend introduces you to a friend
if you are unsure of the level of politeness to use, always choose the most polite level. No one is going to blame you for being too polite or formal, but you might insult someone by using a phrase that is too informal.