Learn Basic Korean: Secrets to Surviving Seoul

Learn Basic Korean: Secrets to Surviving Seoul

Learn basic Korean to survive in South Korea and its capital, Seoul; including greetings, getting around, ordering food, and more key information.
September 20 2021 Korean

Picture this. You’re strolling through the streets of Seoul – South Korea – in search of some finger-licking street food.

But wait. How do I order Korean fried chicken again, and pay for things? Your palms get sweaty as a queue of hungry locals forms behind you... and you haven’t even unpacked yet!

Relax. While this feels like a bad dream, it won’t happen in reality... if you read this blog.

We’ll help you learn basic Korean language to survive – and thrive – in South Korea. Want to learn Korean and speak it with confidence? Look no further.


Learn Basic Korean to survive Seoul

Fun fact: Seoul has twice the population density of New York city. This means the South Korean capital is overflowing with friendly locals who are just bursting to speak with you. (They are notably warm to people who make an effort to speak Korean)

Expect seas of people pouring in and out of lively street markets, skyscrapers, subway stations, Buddhist temples, 24-hour shopping malls, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Learn basic Korean words and phrases from our course to get you started...

Speaking just one word in another language forms an instant emotional connection with that person. The secret of how to learn basic Korean language? Start simple.

Hello = 안녕하세요

What’s your name? = 이름이 뭐예요?

Nice to meet you = 만나서 반가워요

I’m Rob (humble) = 저는 롭이에요


Want to discover how to speak with Korean locals like you were born there? Dive into a Memrise Korean course to discover more real-life phrases and learn basic Korean online.


Key Korean Survival Phrases:

There’s no better feeling than experiencing another culture without stress. Here are some phrases to get you there:

Excuse me (to get attention); over there  =  저기요

How do you get there? = 어떻게 가요?

Where is the bathroom? = 화장실이 어디예요?

Do you have Wifi? = 와이파이 돼요?


Hungry for more? Learn basic Korean language online on our Korean course.


Getting a taxi in Korea

Korean taxi signs

To explore Seoul to the fullest, you’ll need to travel by taxi at some point. Just one thing: make sure you get in the right one.

Look for these signs near the top of the taxi which show whether a taxi is available or not.


(빈차)  = vacant

(예약) = occupied or reserved

(휴무) in blue the day


Spot a vacant one zooming towards you in the street? Try this out:


Taxi! = 택시!




Read our blog – Korean Culture: Top 6 things to remember when learning Korean – for more cultural info that form part of the basics of learning Korean.


Ordering Korean food & paying for things

Kimchi. Bibimbap. Bulgogi. Korean Fried Chicken. Japchae noodles. Soju drink. These are just some of the reasons Korean food is arguably the most mouth-watering on the planet.

Can I have the menu, please? (polite) = 여기 메뉴판 좀 주세요

Can I have some more side dishes, please (polite) = 반찬 좀 더 주세요

How much is that? = 저것은 얼마예요?




Learn Korean with Memrise

Learn Korean with Memrise

How long does it take to learn basic Korean? Good question. This depends on how much time you put in per day and also the quality of the Korean sessions.

The good news is... Memrise's Korean course is tailor made to turn you into a confident and competent Korean speaker quickly – because we focus on real-life phrases that you’ll use in South Korea.

No time is wasted with us. We motivate you along during fun and fast sessions – available to complete at any time and from any place (chilling at home, on the way to work, waiting for your friends at a bar... you name it). Learn on your terms.

Join 60 million Memrise learners and have fun learning a language today.


See our Korean course