Mind Your Korean Tidbits

Since we couldn’t cram everything we’ve learned into our regular MYK series, we decided to share with you some interesting insights from class in this special MYK Tidbits entry.


1) 사이다 (saida = soda)

While the rest of us know soda as any sweet drink containing carbonated water and flavouring, the Koreans typically refer soda to either 7-Up or Sprite.

Apparently, if you order 사이다 at a restaurant in Korea you’ll automatically be served Sprite…or 7-Up, whichever they have. Is that true?

2) 이 분이 (i-booni) vs. 이 사람이 (i-sarami)

Both words have the same meaning, which is “this person” yet they are different in the sense that the former is a more respectful and polite way to refer to the person, while the latter is the casual form of reference.

For instance, you can go: 이 사람이 친구예요 (i-sarami chin-goo-ye-yo = This person is a friend).
While the more polite form can be reserved for someone you respect, thus you say: 이 분이 선생님이에요 (i-booni seon-saeng-nim-i-e-yo = This person is a Teacher).

3) 감사합니다 (kam-sa-ham-ni-da), 고맙습니다 (go-map-seum-ni-da), 고마워요 (go-ma-wo-yo)

All three words mean “thank you” but again, the degree of politeness is different for each word.

감사합니다 is your best (and safest) bet because it’s the most polite form of thank you. You will definitely not step on anyone’s toes or violate any etiquette sensitivities when you thank someone this way.

고맙습니다 is a semi-formal way to thank someone.

고마워요 is a casual form of thanking someone and is allowed among friends.

4) Here are some adjectives we know:

멋있어요 (meo-shi-sseo-yo) = nice/ great; can be used to describe things or people. For example: 권상우 씨 멋있어요! (Kwon Sang oo sshi meo-shi-seo-yo = Kwon Sang-woo is great/ hot/ fantastic etc.)

However, it should not be confused with 맛있어요 (ma-shi-sseo-yo) = delicious. For example: 이 사과가 맛있어요! (i-sa-gwa-ga ma-shi-sseo-yo! = This apple is delicious!).

예뻐요 (ye-ppeo-yo = pretty/ beautiful). Such as, 집이 참 예뻐요 (jibi cham ye-ppeo-yo = The house is very beautiful).

귀여워요 (ki-yeo-wo-yo = cute). As in 토끼가 귀여워요 (to-kki-ga ki-yeo-wo-yo = The rabbit is cute).

5) 커피 vs. 코피

Be careful when you order coffee, or you might end up with a bloodied nose!

Coffee in Korean is 커피 (keo-pi or more specifically, khaw-pi), while 코피 (ko-pi) is actually made up of two words: = ko = nose & = pi = blood.

Thus if you were to go: 코피 주세요 (ko-pi ju-se-yo = nose blood, please), that might earn you a punch in the nose :-P. You’ve been warned ;-).

6) Useful phrases/ words

i) 수고 하셨습니다 (soo-go ha-syeot-seum-ni-da = Thank for your trouble / kind labour)

ii) 잘 했어요! (jal hae-sseo-yo = Good job!)

iii) 알겠어요 (al-ge-sseo-yo = I understand)

iv) 모르겠어요 (mo-reu-ge-sseo-yo = I don’t understand/ I have no idea)

v) 알아요 (a-ra-yo = I know)

vi) 몰라요 (mol-la-yo = I don’t know)

vii) 쉬워요 (shwi-wo-yo = Easy)

viii) 어려워요 (eo-ryeo-wo-yo = Difficult)

ix) 맞아요 (ma-ja-yo = Correct)

x) 틀려요 (teul-lyeo-yo = To be wrong/ Incorrect)

Note: The festive season has somewhat disrupted the momentum of our Mind Your Korean series. We will be back with the usual weekly updates next week. What can we say? Living in Malaysia, with its melting pot of people, has its benefits?! ;-). Holiday, holiday, holiday :-P.

Mind Your Korean series:
MYK 1: I’m sorry (미안합니다) – You’re welcome (아니에요)
MYK 2: The one where 선생님 beats Liz to the punch line
MYK 3: The tale of the uncooperative tissue paper
MYK 4: From learning the alphabets to self-introduction
MYK 5: Simple conversations in Korean
MYK 6: 하나, 둘, 셋, 넷…come on and count in Korean!
MYK Quiz 1: The Match Up
MYK Quiz 1: Answers and winner announcement
MYK 7: Location, location, location
MYK 8: 일, 이, 삼, 사…come on and count in Sino-Korean!

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