sorry in Korean
Korean

How to say ‘sorry’ in Korean: A complete guide to make the right apology

When visiting a foreign country, such as Korea, you are bound to make cultural errors. Knowing how to say “sorry” in Korean can help you overcome awkward and embarrassing situations. Using the right phrase to say ‘sorry’ is essential to deal with the situation.

In Korean, there are several ways to say “I’m sorry.” We’ve written them in the Korean alphabet and romanization below. You will be able to not only apologize but also to listen for apologies.

Formal “I’m Sorry” in Korean

In its formal form, sorry has two different words, similar to saying no in Korean. The first one, 죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida) is slightly more respectful, and it is the one we recommend learning if you only want to learn one word for “sorry.”

Remember to use body language and tone of voice to help communicate your message. Face the person to whom you are apologizing and slightly bow your head to acknowledge that you have made a mistake.

If you are a Korean language learner, you can also refer to some best books to learn Korean. These books are extremely beneficial if you want to learn Korean phrases and greetings. They will help you understand how native speakers handle a particular situation.

To help us remember these Korean phrases, we’ll make some associations. Associations are useful tools that help you recall vocabulary or phrases by using an easier-to-remember story or image. You can create your own associations and use them as inspiration to remember.

For example, you can remember the phrases with the help of Korean tongue twisters. Learning phrases this way becomes easier. In fact, the brain retains such information for a longer period of time.  

Standard “I’m Sorry” in Korean

The standard version also has two ways to say it. This is the expected level of courtesy. Both words can be used interchangeably in this context. The very first word is 죄송해요 (joesonghaeyo).

However, keep in mind that when saying sorry, as with saying thank you, people frequently use a higher level of politeness than they would normally. As a result, it is often preferable to say 죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida) rather than 죄송해요 (joesonghaeyo).

Informal “I’m Sorry” in Korean

When speaking to people your age who are close to you, use 미안해 (mianhae). It is also appropriate when speaking to young children. If you are in a relationship with a Korean, you should learn this word right away because it could save your relationship! It should be noted that 죄송해 (joesonghae) is not used.

Other ways to say “I’m Sorry” in Korean

In Korean, you can express regret by saying “I’m sorry.” However, there are some alternative expressions you should use in situations where you would say “sorry” in English.

잠시만요 jamsimanyo

This phrase means “just a moment” or “hold on a second,” It would be used to explore a crowded subway in Seoul. Rather than saying “sorry,” you would say 잠시만요 (jamsimanyo).

When you are on the phone or in the middle of a conversation and someone tries to get your attention, you can use this phrase. This will come in handy when telling the other person to hold on for a moment.

실례합니다 (sillyehamnida)

This expression means “excuse me,” as in “I apologize for interrupting.” If you are about to interrupt someone, use this. Because the word 실례 (sillye) means “discourtesy or bad manners,” the phrase translates as “I do/have bad manners.”

Use of I am sorry in a sentence

Now we will move towards some Korean examples of saying I am sorry. If you do not how to write or speak Korean, you can book your lesson plans with italki. It is a well-developed platform where you can learn Korean online from the best Korean tutors who will give you the Korean knowledge as well as the confidence required to speak it in public settings.

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You can add a few phrases to your sentence if you want to be more specific about what you are apologizing for. Here is how you should go about it.

At the end of a sentence:

/어서 죄송합니다 (a/eoseo joesonghamnida)

If you want to say I’m sorry that I am … then you can use the above structure.

For example:

늦어서 죄송합니다 (neujeoseo joesonghamnida) (I’m sorry that I am late).

At the start of a sentence:

Alternatively, you can put the word “sorry” at the start of the sentence.

죄송하지만… (joesonghajiman)

For example:

죄송하지만 못 가요 (joesonghajiman mot gayo) (I’m sorry but I can’t go).

This can also be used when asking for a favor.

 죄송한데… (joesonghande)

For example:

죄송한데 사진 좀 찍어 주시겠어요? (joesonghande sajin jom jjigeo jusigesseoyo) (I’m sorry but could you take a picture for me please?)

Some other prominent phrases to say I am sorry in Korean

Below, we are mentioning some of the common phrases to say sorry in Korean along with English translation.

  • 제 잘못이에요. (Je jal-mo-si-e-yo.) — It is my fault.
  • 다시는 안 그럴게. (Da-si-neun an geu-reol-ge.) — I won’t do it again.
  • 제발 화내지 마세요. (Je-bal hwa-nae-ji ma-se-yo.) — Please don’t be mad at me.

How to respond when someone says “Sorry” to you

If you find yourself on the other side of the equation and someone has wronged you, forgiveness is the best way to move forward.

You can use phrases like the following:

당신을 용서합니다. (Dang-si-neul yong-seo-ham-ni-da) — I forgive you

Say this quietly and with a sparkling tear in your eye for maximum effect. Demonstrate to the other person that, while you are still hurt, you are willing to be the bigger person and move past the offense.

사과를 받아들일게. (Sa-gwa-leul ba-da-deu-lil-ge.) — Apology accepted

You can use this phrase if you accept the apology someone just made. It is a good way to say that your apology has been accepted.

아니에요, 괜찮습니다. (A-ni-e-yo, gwaen-chan-seum-ni-da.) — It’s okay, never mind

When you want to keep it cool, say this to the other person. It quickly releases the other party and refuses to consider the mistake seriously. People make mistakes, and you would like others to forgive you if you made one.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to say it, you can start using “sorry” in Korean with other basic phrases like hello and goodbye. Remember that its usage differs slightly from how the word “sorry” is used in English, so listen to Koreans, begin by watching Korean movies, and try to see how the word “sorry” is naturally used in everyday Korean.

You can practice using these phrases with your family members, friends, and even in front of the mirror. Doing so will give you the confidence to speak Korean in front of people. You can also generate notes or flashcards mentioning these phrases. Keep on referring to them until you memorize them.

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