Before going to any country I like to make sure that I at least know some key phrases in the language used in the country. Sometimes, this is out of necessity, since it is arrogant to think that everyone will speak English and that upon arriving in a new place I will be able to get by happily just speaking English.
Indeed, there have been many times where language barriers have gotten the best of me and a situation has not tuned out exactly as planned. Living in China certainly added to a number of these…
Fortunately, a language barrier is not something you have to worry about too much in North Korea. If you’re coming on a group tour, all of the guides we work within North Korea have impeccable English – even though some of them have never left the country! If your first language isn’t English and you’re joining an independent tour, then you can request to have guides who speak any of the following languages;
- German (Deutsch)
- French (Français)
- Spanish (Español)
- Italian (Italiano)
- Russian (Русский)
- Chinese (中文)
- Japanese (日本語)
- Arabic (العَرَبِيةُ)
Whilst learning Korean may not be on the top of your to-do-list, nor may it be extremely necessary, it’s always handy to have a few key phrases ready before you enter the country. The guides are highly trained and have studied English or other languages for extended periods of time, but this cannot be said for the entire Korean population – and if you’re wanting to peak to the locals or really get in on the culture, learning a bit of the language is a key way to do this.
Start with our key phrases list below!
Hello – An nyong ha shim ni ka
Nice to meet you – pan kap sum ni da
Thank you – Kam sa ham ni da
Sorry – Mi an ham ni da
Beautiful/nice – A rum dap sum ni da
Let’s go – Kap si da!
Quickly – Balli balli
Mr./Miss./Mrs (comerade) – Dongji/dongmu
Waiter – Jop dae won dong mu
Beer – Mekju
Water – Mul
Cheers – Chuk bae
See you again – Da si man nap si da
There you have it!
You may already know a bit of Korean if you’ve been to South Korea or ever studied it before. This definitely puts you one step ahead and means you’ll be able to communicate with the locals much easier! There are however some differences to watch out for. Check them out here.