So, you’ve booked your trip to South Korea and are excited for all the entertainment, food, nature, and city sights that await you. 

Before you flex your passport and head off on an epic vacation, here are eight phrases to help you once you land!

Translation: Thank you
If you’re traveling to another country, thank people like your mother is watching. Respect is frequently shown through language in Korean, so it’s best to stick with this formal version while traveling. 

Translation: I am sorry
Knowing how to say I’m sorry can help you out of a jam when traveling. You’ll want to use the formal version of this expression as well, and even add a small bow for extra politeness. (You can incorporate this body movement into saying hello and thank you, too.) 

당기세요  /  미세요 
dang-gi-se-yo / mi-se-yo 
Translation: Push and pull
Yes, you could figure out whether a door wants to be pushed or pulled by simply trying it. But do not underestimate the confidence that comes with knowing this in advance.

Translation: Please give (or please may I have)
When ordering, say this phrase after the name of the item. Or if vocabulary escapes you, show a photo on your phone or point, and add 주세요. This utilitarian phrase is extremely helpful in both stores and cafes.  

Translation: Is it spicy?
Korea is home to buldak (fire chicken), tteok-bok-ki (rice cakes in chili sauce), and jjambbong (spicy seafood noodle soup), among other heat-bearing dishes. If that list of delicacies made your taste buds nervous, or spice just simply isn’t your bag, keep this phrase in your back pocket so you can ask before you bite.

잘 먹겠습니다
Translation: Bon appétit
The direct translation is “I will eat well.” (It’s Korea—you absolutely will.) But the more intangible meaning is along the lines of “Thank you for using your time and energy to cook for me, I will appreciate it with gratitude.” Generally, the phrase is used while dining with a group as a reminder of that gratitude, however you can also say it to the person who cooked your meal or if someone buys you a meal.

어떤 케이팝 그룹을 가장 좋아해요?
Eotteon keipap geurub-eul gajang joahaeyo?
Translation: Which KPOP group do you like the most?
Maybe Korea’s prolific entertainment industry inspired you to visit. Or maybe you’re just in the position of having to make small talk—but with no clue how to do it. Either way, asking about KPOP is usually a good way to start. The industry contributed an estimated 5 billion to Korea’s economy, so it’s an easy topic for many. Maybe you’ll even get some unexpected music recommendations! Being a fan of KPOP can even help you with your language lessons.

Translation: Awesome, cool, amazing, jackpot
A slang way to express joy and excitement! This word also has elements of unexpected surprise. So, save it for moments when your amazement and joy bubbles over, and you simply can’t believe your good luck.

Pack a few Korean phrases for your trip!

It can feel intimidating to use your new Korean skills—but it doesn’t have to be! Start slowly incorporating a few phrases into your interactions, and enjoy creating new connections along the way.