Home » Korean culture, arts and heritage

Meeting A Korean For The First Time

5,770 views No Comment

In Korean, the word YOU is almost never used between two people, particularly in their first meeting. If you look up you in English-Korean dictionary, you will find the word 당신/너, but to use this term to a stranger would be considered highly discourteous. You have all probably felt, upon meeting someone new, perplexed about what to call him or her. View Greeting in Korea to learn the way to greet one another.

Meeting A Korean For The First Time


In Korea, people are addressed by titles based on age and position, which are complex even for Koreans! For example, if you meet someone with whom you have a working relationship, you might call him by his title of 사장 (president, director), or 부장 (manager), but you would also attach 님 at the end of the title to indicate respect such as 사장님 or 부장님. We have seen a brief discussion in Korean Vocabulary – Occupations too. So now you may understand the reason Koreans almost always exchange business cards upon first meeting because these cards contain each person’s appropriate title.

But if you should happen to meet someone who does not have a prestigious occupation, after asking for his name, you may call him by his full name or first name plus 씨 at the end to indicate respect. For example, 김려욱, which consist of last name 김 and first name 려욱, would be called 김려욱 씨 or 려욱 씨. We have seen a brief discussion in Korean names.

If the person you are meeting is a very close personal friend or a child, in a one-to-one conversation you can use 너 (a very informal you). But even if this person is an adult far younger than yourself, you cannot use 너 unless you are very close friends.

Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.