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Hello in Korean: 11 Ways to Say Hi in Korean

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Published:
Jan 21, 2021

How do you say hello in Korean? Learning basic greetings in Korean is a must if you’re starting out with the language. Knowing how to say “hello” in Korean will help you not only make a good first impression but help you kick-off conversations with native Korean speakers.

So if you’re here to learn how to say hello in Korean, we’ve got you covered.

In this post, you’ll learn how to say hi in Korean as well as many other Korean greetings.

But first, let’s talk about formality in Korean.

Levels of Formality in Korean

The Korean language has seven different levels of formality. This means, depending on whom you’re speaking to, you may need to use a different level of formality. Thankfully, you’ll really only come across four of these seven levels in day-to-day interactions. What are they? 

  • Honorific speech - this is the form of Korean used in formal work situations and often in the news
  • Formal speech - this is the form of Korean used when speaking with an elder or someone you don’t know
  • Familiar speech - used to be formal and polite, often with people you know but not very well
  • Informal - this is the level of speech used with friends and family

Each of the ways to say hi in Korean in this article fit different formalities, so we’ll be sure to let you know if they lean towards being more formal or informal so you know which to use in different situations.


#1 안녕하세요 (annyeong haseyo) - “Hello” in Korean (formal)

“Hello” in Korean literally means “to do peace/well-being”. It’s used as both a question and an answer almost as though asking “Are you doing well?” and replying 네, 안녕하세요 (ne, annyeong haseyo, “yes, I’m doing well”). 

This is the most common way to say “hello” in Korean and so it’s definitely the one you should most remember from this list of Korean greetings! You can use 안녕하세요 in any situation – with your Korean tutor, with coworkers, or when you greet someone as you walk into a store or restaurant.

#2 안녕 (annyeong) - “Hi” in Korean (informal)

To make 안녕하세요 more familiar or informal, you drop the second half of the greeting so that it simply becomes 안녕 (annyeong). This version is used with people you are close to or who are younger than you. And using this phrase is a sign of closeness to the person you’re speaking to.

#3 여보세요 (yeoboseyo) - “Hi” (on the phone) in Korean

To say “hi” in Korean on the phone, you use this greeting. It can be used whether or not you know the person calling, so it’s a versatile greeting. Just don’t use it any other time than when you’re answering the phone.

#4 안녕하십니까? (annyeong hasimnikka) - “Hello” (very formal) in Korean

This is the very formal version of “hello” in Korean. It’s used in speeches or the news in Korea and if you want to show a high level of respect to someone when you meet them for the first time. This greeting, like 안녕하세요, is both a question and an answer. 

#5 좋은 아침이에요 (joeun achimieyo) - “Good morning” in Korean

To say “good morning” in Korean, you use 좋은 아침이에요 (joeun achimieyo). It’s not as common as “hello”, but you can still use it.

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#6 잘 잤어요? (jal jasseoyo) - “Did you sleep well?” in Korean

Another way to greet someone in Korean is by asking them how they slept. In Korean, this is 잘 잤어요? (jal jasseoyo?, “Did you sleep well?”).

#7 오랜만이에요 (oraenmanieyo) - “Long time no see” in Korean

Greeting someone you haven’t seen in a while? You can use this phrase to say “long time no see” in Korean. It’s 오랜만이에요 (oraenmanieyo).

#8 밥 먹었어요? (bap meogeosseoyo) - “Have you eaten?” in Korean

An important way to greet someone in both Korean (and China) is by asking them if they’ve eaten. It’s typically used with people you know well and is meant to show you care about their well-being by asking if they’ve eaten.

#9 얼굴 보니까 좋다 (eolgul bonikka jota) - “It’s good to see your face” in Korean

Want to get hip with the young adult crowd in Korean? This greeting, which literally means “it’s good to see your face” is a casual way to say hello in Korean.

#10 무슨 일이야? (museun iriya?) – “What’s up?” in Korean

This is a useful casual Korean greeting to use to ask someone “what’s up?” This would be used with friends and wouldn’t be appropriate outside of informal situations.

#11 안뇽 (annyong) - “hiiiii!” in Korean

If you want to sound cute in Korean and learn a bit of aegyo, this is a good greeting to use. Aegyo is a way of acting cute, or even childish, in Korea and is often seen as flirtatious. Aegyo is typically used by females, but there are occasions where a guy may use it. You can see lots of examples of aegyo in K-dramas. 

Choosing the Best Way to Say “Hello” in Korean

How do you know which of these eleven expressions you should use? Depending on the context and formality of the situation, certain greetings will be more appropriate than others. 

With friends and family, 밥 먹었어요? or 안녕 are likely the way to go. But in more formal situations, like work, school, or when talking to strangers, you may prefer to us 안녕하세요 or 잘 잤어요? 

How to Say Hello in Korean

Greetings aren’t just words. When you say hello, depending on where you are, you may bow to or even shake hands with the person you’re greeting. Make sure you close your eyes when you bow, it may be considered rude otherwise. 

When you are on familiar terms with someone, you can use their first name with 씨 (shi) and when you want to be more formal, you’ll attach 님 ­(nim) to the person’s title. So, “teacher” for example, would be 선생님 (seonsaengnim). 

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