What did you say? Things your students say in Korean.

When I started at this school, I had NO IDEA what the children were saying to me. I work in a Korean playschool so the students only learn English as subject. My favourite story is of a day with the 5 year old’s just a month or two after I started. One of the boys said something to me and by the way he was acting, I knew he needed the bathroom. Unfortunately, the assistant wasn’t around so I just let him off and left the door of the classroom open. A few minutes later, he appears back with nothing on from the waist down. Turns out he needed a hand finishing in the bathroom and with no assistant, he just came back to me!

After that, I promised myself to get my Korean together so I’d actually understand what the students were saying and I did. I just listened to them and since they say the same things day in day out, I would write it phonetically, ask my co teachers and then learn how to say it properly. Here are the top phrases my students say;

  • 쉬 마려워요 (she mar yeah woh yo) – I need to pee
  • 똥 마려워요 (dong mar yeah woh yo)- I need to poo
  • 선생님………( sun saeng nim) – teacher
  • 연필 필요해요 (yun pill pil yoh hay yo)- I need a pencil
  • 지우개 주세요 (gee you gay juice a yo)- Eraser please
  • 색연필– (saeng yun pil) crayons
  • 아파요– (app pie yo) I’m sick/hurt
  • 어떻게 해요 ( oh dok a hay yo)- How do I do this.

Here are some phrases and words that you can say to the students;

  • 애들아! (yeah dra)- Guys!
  • 조용히하세요! (jo young he ha say yo)- Be quiet!
  • 어디 아파요? ( o d apa yoh) – Where are you hurt/sick?
  • 화장실 가다오세요 (hwa jang shil gat da o say yoh)- Go to the bathroom and come back.
  • 빨리! (bally) Quickly

Since we’re here to teach English, you should obviously keep the Korean to a minimum but in a a bind, these phrases may help. As ever, my Korean spelling could be atrocious so feel free to tell me any mistakes!

Shauna & Janet on the “Most useful phrases in Korean”- Part 1

It’s always useful to have a few phrases in Korean before you come to Korea. Right? That’s what we thought anyway. And by “we”, I mean Janet and I. Janet is the person behind the janetnewenham.wordpress.com blog.She’s also Irish and living in Paju so we thought we’d try a vlog over some Barry’s Tea. Since we want people to be involved, we let our Facebook followers choose the phrases we put up. Here’s what they came up with;

1. Hello– 안녕하세요. Anyeong ha sayo.

2. Thank You– 감사합니다 Gamsa ham ni da

3. Yes– 네 ney

4. No– 아니요 ah ni o

5. Where is the ___________? ________ 이 어디에 있어요? ___ o d eh is oh yo?  For example, “Where is the bathroom?’ The word for bathroom is 화장실( hwa jang shil) so the sentence becomes 화장실이 어디에 있어요?

6. How to I get to _______? _________ 어땋게 가요? o ddeok kay gay yo? For example, How do I get to Seoul is 서울 어떻게 가요?

7. I’m sorry– 미안해요. me ann ham ni da. There are a few ways to say I’m sorry. You can use this for any situation where you should apologize for something.

8.Discount Please, 갂아 주세요. Gakk ah chew say yo. This can only be used when the price isn’t set. For example at a market or somewhere.

9. Simmer down/calm down; 침착해요. Chim chak hay yo. A great one if you’re out and about and someone is bothering you or something like that.

10. How much is this? 이거 얼마예요? e go ul mah eh yo? (이거 being “this”).

11. Directions; 직진- jik jin,  Straight

오른쪽 oh ruhn chuk, Right

윈쪽 wen chuk, Left

여기 세워 주세요. yoh gi say woh Chew say yo, Stop here please

12. Really? 진짜? jiin ja? I love this word! Even these days when I can’t follow my student or whatever I just reply “진짜”?

13. One moment please, 잠깐만요. Jam can man yo, . You can use this when getting off the subway, bus or just to say “wait a minute”

It’s not very much fun just reading it here is it? No. That’s why Janet and I put together a little video of how to pronounce it and we loved it so much the memory card ran out of space. So this video is part one and we’ll post part 2 next week!

Since we’re not Korean we probably made mistakes in spellings so apologies. If you want to see us do any more videos on Korean or life in general in Korea or whatever, leave us a comment or tweet us, @iamshaunabrowne or @janetnewenham.

5 top phrases heard in Paju.

I may have lied.  The following may not be phrases so much as just words.  And they maybe heard all over Korea , but on account of the fact that I spend so much time in Paju, I’m giving the credit there.  Also, feel free to add your own in the comments at the end.  For those not in Korea, I’ve added the explanation and my own thoughts after each one.

1. 헐 (Hul)- What exactly does this mean? I have no idea.  Neither does this guy but he has a youtube video so it looks better than anything else.


Anyway, I hear this everywhere, on the street, in the classroom, on the subway, on the bus, on the t.v., everywhere.  I also like to use it myself.  Since I have no idea what it means though, I just randomly throw it out there.  For example, if the religious people corner me on the street, a good 헐 is usually enough to get them to stop talking to me.  Same goes for the shop assistants that like to follow you around.  In fact Hul is a one stop shop to get yourself out of any situation.

2. “Maybe”- I don’t know if this is a Paju thing or a Korea thing, but Koreans like to use the word “maybe” as a definite accumulation of a thought.  “Shauna, maybe we will have no school tomorrow”.  Great, so maybe I should come to school or maybe I should stay at home? Which? And when will you decide? “Teacher, maybe we go home early”. Right so should I stay should I go? So many questions.   Maybe you should just stop using the word maybe.  The incorrect use of the word cause me all kinds of confusion, “maybe we will go to lunch, maybe we finish class early, maybe we meet for coffee????? And the confusion continues…….

3. Hello. How are you? I am fine thank you and you? I don’t know who taught who how to say this but Koreans like to say it as one sentence, not stopping after the “Hello” or the “How are you?” I mean, really, who actually says “I am fine thank you and you?” when someone asks how they are? Not me.  I usually answer, “solid finest” or “grandest” or something normal.  But this whole ” I am fine thank you and you?” makes it seem like the person wants to eat my soul.

4. 우와!!!! 외국 사람!!!!!- (Wow foreigner!) I live in Paju. Though there are a lot of foreigners here, in a population of 350,000 people, 60 of us are still novelties.  So, usually I hear “Wow foreigner!” followed by ‘where you from?” To which I reply, Ireland.  After 5 seconds thinking they usually reply……”ah Iceland” to which I say “HUL” and walk away.  Although, to be honest, I’ll take Iceland over; “미국 사람” (American) or Russian????? What I really want to know is why Koreans seem to know the word Russian but don’t say any other nationality in English?????? I mean really, it’s highly possible that there are a load of Russians working in Seoul but honestly how many Russians are hanging around Geumchon????????

5.  “Oppa, Gangnam style.” In case you live under a tree……….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0

Somebody may tell me how this guy got so famous? He was there before but suddenly he’s everywhere and all anyone says is “oppa, Gangnam style” I hear this on the street, on my ipod (unfortunately), on my phone, it’s my alarm in the morning, my 5-year-olds make up their own words probably because they have no idea what Gangnam is. And people outside of Korea thik it necessary to send it to my Facebook page with the words “Shauna have you heard of this?????” No sorry, I don’t get out much in Korea. HUL…………….