Liz’s Practical Guide to Living in Korea

Hey ya’ll. Not sure when ya’ll entered my vocabulary, but I’m gonna go with it.

I’ve had some blog ideas bouncing around in my head all month, but I keep forgetting to write them… or putting them off. They’re a little heavy, and require more thought than I generally put into these things. I am nonetheless disappointed in myself for my lack of content. So here’s a thing!

Pt. 1 – EZ Korean

(If you are Liz. This is how I do it.)

Warning: This is purely life experience + googling on the fly.

1. Anyong-haseyo – 안녕하세요
Okay, this is as basic as it gets. It means hello, which you probably know if you have ever seen Arrested Development. My linguist husband has told me that the “haseyo” part is an honorific. Basically, it is more formal than you would be with friends. “Hello” vs “Sup.” You can say Anyong to your friends, but should probably throw on a haseyo for a cashier.

2. Kam-sam-nida  감사합니다
You’ll hear this one a lot. It just means thank you. Koreans say thank you a lot, and you will also say thank you a lot because you will feel so bad for not knowing Korean that any time someone can understand what you are saying you will be crazy grateful. Fun sidenote: When I first got here I thought the phrase was ham-sam-nida. Nick thought that was funny, and I think ham is delicious. Also, my favorite butchering of this phrase was an American guy who told me “Thank you, samnida!”

3. Chogi/Chogi-yo/Chogi-yogi (No Korean because idk how to spell that and my googling is leading me nowhere)
Okay, this one means either “here” or “there” or possibly both. People say it a lot, so I’m including it. I think if you want to get someone’s attention you can shout this one. Or if you want your cab driver to pull over in a specific place. Which leads me to:

4. Un-ju-shoo-pah
This is what you say if you want to get to my apartment, because we don’t know what our address is and most cab drivers know where this building is.
(It’s behind the tree. It seems to be owned by an older lady, who sells random things like candy and cigarettes and trash bags)

5. Ajumma 아줌마
This means middle-aged woman, according to Wikipedia, but everyone seems to use it as a term for old Korean ladies. It’s something of a trope, although the term could technically be applied to any woman who looks older. Here’s a picture I found from Travel-Stained, amazingly titled “Ajumma Horde”:
hat seems pretty accurate, but around Songtan you will often see these women pushing carts around and sorting through the garbage for various reasons. (It might be a job? Maybe they’re scavenging? They can make money from recycling somehow, like we do in the US). Often, ajummas are really pushy and cranky. Older Koreans in general are like this, because there is a big gap in sensibilities from their generation to the younger Koreans. God forbid you wear a tank top around an old Korean man or woman. They will scowl at you and then push you out of the subway so they can be the first one to the rhinestone visor sale. Mostly when I think of an ajumma, I envision them pushing someone out of a subway.

6. KA! 가!
This is a good one for getting creepy homeless men to back the fuck off. I have never used it, because my instinct is usually to run away and hide behind my friend Wendy.

7. Hi… Sorry.
This is the phrase I use most often. It is helpful for when Korean store employees try to help you buy things. I usually make a really uncomfortable face, and pretend to be interested in whatever product is closest to me.

8. Ne  네
“Yes.” Ne is pretty all-encompassing. It is a very common response to just about anything. We have a lot of English words for “yes” – sure, okay, yup, yeah, alright, etc. There have got to be more Korean words, but if they are talking to you, you obvious American, you’re gonna hear ne. Maybe they don’t have more words. I’m just a blogger, I don’t know.

9. APA! 아빠

You will never know Korean as well as this baby.

10. Mumble-mumble-seyo
This is one of my favorite phrases, that I often use when I am leaving stores or restaurants. Koreans will often say something like “Anyang-eh-kei-seyo” when you’re heading out. In situations like that, where I have no idea what they’re saying, I usually just mumble something and add an “eyo” at the end. It works alright.




You guys, I just made a click-bait article. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s