Eat Your Kimchi

DICKS – Greetings and Set Phrases

Greetings and Set Phrases thumb eyk

We’ve got pretty big DICKS this week; we are going to teach you some basic greetings. In Korean “hello” or “good night” is not always as simple as it seems. How you say goodbye depends on the situation, and how politely you say it depends on who you’re talking to. There are different levels of politeness in Korean, and thus different ways to say hi, bye, and thanks, but today we are going to teach you formal phrases that you say to older people or your superior at work. Here are some set phrases you can use, depending on the situation:


– 안녕하세요.
– 안녕하세요! 처음 뵙겠습니다. (Hi, nice to meet you for the first time)
– 만나서 반갑습니다. (Hi, Nice to meet you!)

When you pickup the phone


When you eat

– 잘 먹겠습니다. (before eating)
– 잘 먹었습니다. (after eating)

During New Years

– 새해 복 많이 받으세요.
– 올해에도 건강하세요

Goodbyes are different in Korean and depend a lot on the situation. Generally, you can always use “안녕히 가세요” or “(조심히) 들어가세요” but if you’re with a group, there are more natural phrases to use.

When you are leaving first

– 안녕히 계세요.
– 먼저 갈께요
– 먼저 들어가겠습니다.
– 먼저 들어가보겠습니다.

“먼저 갈게,” which literally means, “I have to leave first,” is kind of a weird phrase for foreigners, but it is very natural say this after hanging out with group of people. Exchange students or language program students should note this: you should definitely say something to teachers or classmates when you leave.

While discussing this, we also realized these leaving phrases have a kind of apologetic feeling to them. So here are some thoughts of mine on why that might be. Culturally, to show respect, older people than you always come first, so it feels rude when are the first to go, leaving behind a person who is older than you. But even when you are with friends I think people got used to saying something when you leave first, and the custom stuck.

Also in Korea there are lots of group activities and group gatherings. It’s intense. People expect you to be there and do whatever you are doing together until the end. But why feel apologetic? It’s a group time, and leaving might make you feel like you are missing out on some special group bonding experience. These aren’t hard and fast rules. This is only my theory.

“들어가세요”/ “들어가” which means “Go inside,” or “Please go inside.” We say in situations when, in English, you’d say “goodbye.” It is polite to walk up to your front door and say good bye whenever someone is leaving in any culture, right?  Koreans say bye as if the other person is doing a huge favor, as if it’s a sacrifice for you to come to the front door and say good bye. That feeling is part of what we mean when we say “No need to come out, go inside.” It’s also a bit different if you’re at work.

When you are leaving work first

– 먼저 들어가겠습니다.
– 먼저 들어가보겠습니다.
– 먼저 퇴근하겠습니다.
– 먼저 들어가겠습니다. 내일 뵙겠습니다. / 먼저 들어갈께요. 내일 뵈요. (See you tomorrow)

When you are leaving but coming back

Person A : 다녀오겠습니다. (when you leave)
Person B : 다녀오세요

Person A : 다녀왔습니다. (when you come back)

At the very end of the day

– 수고하셨습니다
– 수고 많으셨습니다
– 고생하셨습니다
– 고생 많으셨습니다.

These are incredibly useful verbs to know in Korean. They mean something along the lines of “to make an effort” or to “to take the trouble,” but we use it as a way to say “thanks for your hard work!” at the end of the work day. There are two different ways to use it: 수고하세요 and 수고하셨습니다. Their uses are totally different.

When you leave a store/coffee shop/restaurant

– 수고하세요

When a customer enters your store/restaurant

– 어서오세요