How to Say Good Morning in Korean: 7 Ways to Start Your Day Courteously
After a hearty Korean breakfast of rice with 반찬 (ban-chan) side dishes accompanied by a cup of sweet 달고나 (dal-go-na) coffee, all you need to complete your morning is a greeting that will give a good first impression.
Korean greetings are an essential part of the vast world of Korean etiquette. It’s important to know which greetings are appropriate depending on the setting and the people involved.
Here’s a list of some common Korean morning greetings that you’ll want to know in order to start your day off right!
- 1. 안녕하세요 (Hello – formal)
- 2. 안녕 (Hello – informal)
- 3. 잘 잤어요? (Did you sleep well? – formal)
- 4. 잘 잤어? (Did you sleep well? – informal)
- 5. 좋은 아침이에요 (It’s a good morning – formal)
- 6. 좋은 아침 (It’s a good morning – informal)
- 7. 굿모닝 (Good morning – slang)
1. 안녕하세요 (Hello – formal)
You may already know this one! It’s the standard Korean way of saying “Hello,” but it’s also used as the most common way to greet someone in the daytime.
In fact, it’s actually more frequently used than most morning-specific greetings!
This phrase is formal due to the inclusion of 하세요, which is an imperative that orders someone to do something. 요 is a Korean honorific word that, when added to the end of a phrase or sentence, makes it more respectful in nature.
안녕 itself translates to “peace.” So, when translated more literally, 안녕하세요 essentially means you’re wishing someone to “be at peace.”
Use 안녕하세요 for your elders, those with whom you’re less familiar, your social superiors (such as your boss and workplace seniors) and other folks that deserve a degree of respect.
안녕하십니까 (ahn-nyung-ha-shim-ni-kka) is an even more formal version of this phrase—the ending 하십니까 indicates very high respect. However, this version is rather exclusive in its use, so you probably won’t have a frequent need for it. It can also be used in a sarcastic, humorous manner among friends—I myself have used it to greet someone who luxuriously overslept and ended up late to a meetup.
2. 안녕 (Hello – informal)
Simply removing 하세요 from 안녕하세요 will give you a casual and more informal version of the greeting.
안녕 is a very commonly-used greeting among friends and when addressing those who are close to or younger than you in age. I personally like it because it’s short and quick to say. And for someone like me, who yawns more than talks in the morning, that matters!
By the way, 안녕 can also be used to mean “Goodbye.” It serves a dual purpose—talk about convenient!
3. 잘 잤어요? (Did you sleep well? – formal)
Pronunciation: jal jat-ssuh-yo
This greeting takes the form of a polite question. It’s formal and appropriate for your social superiors, elders and acquaintances. It works for anyone you wish to treat with a degree of respect, even if you consider them your friend.
You can answer this question with 네 (ne, “Yes”) or 네, 잘 잤어요 (ne, jal jat-ssuh-yo, “Yes, I slept well”).
An even more formal version of this phrase is 안녕히 주무셨어요 (ahn-nyung-hi ju-mu-shyut-ssuh-yo)? The main difference is in the verb conjugation.
The 주무셨 that replaces the 잤 is a conjugation of the verb 주무시다 (ju-mu-shi-da, “to sleep”). 주무시다 is a much more formal version of the verb 자다 (ja-da, “to sleep”), which is what 잤 is conjugated from.
4. 잘 잤어? (Did you sleep well? – informal)
Pronunciation: jal jat-ssuh
Again, simply removing the honorific ending 요 will give you its more informal equivalent. Use this question for your friends and those that are close to you—essentially, the folks that you don’t have to be so formal and respectful around.
Instead of just saying it outright to someone first thing in the morning, I occasionally ask this question after a more neutral greeting, such as 안녕.
It’s not necessary, but if you prefer to start conversations with a “Hello” rather than a question, then you can do the same!
5. 좋은 아침이에요 (It’s a good morning – formal)
Pronunciation: joh-eun ah-chi-mee-eh-yo
This phrase is probably the closest equivalent to the English “Good morning.”
However, it’s not used as often as you’d expect. As mentioned earlier, the generic 안녕하세요 and 안녕 are actually the more frequently-used morning greetings.
좋은 아침이에요 is still a nice and rather joyful-sounding formal greeting, so you can certainly put it to use! It also can work as a comment on the actual status of the day—like a way of saying that the morning (the weather, for example) is quite pleasant.
6. 좋은 아침 (It’s a good morning – informal)
Pronunciation: joh-eun ah-chim
The less formal version of 좋은 아침이에요 that you can use to casually greet your buddies in the early hours.
I personally think of it as equivalent to the simple English greeting of “Morning.” Again, it can also work to comment on the morning itself.
7. 굿모닝 (Good morning – slang)
This is a Konglish (Korean-English) greeting. It’s quite literally a Korean phonetic spelling of the English “Good morning.”
Because of this, none of the words actually have a standard Korean meaning!
You probably wouldn’t use this greeting in real-life with someone (especially not to anyone who deserves a bit more respect). It’s considered to belong in the domain of slang.
However, you can find this phrase used in online spaces and text messaging. Etiquette isn’t as critical in these realms, so if you want to better fit in online or understand “hip” Internet talk, this greeting is a good one to know.
Morning greetings may seem like easily forgettable parts of your day, but they’re polite staples to everyday life.
And because Korean culture values respect so much, it’s always a good idea to know which greeting you can use for whom. You don’t want to put a damper on the early hours of someone’s day because you used the wrong phrase!
So now that you know how to wish everyone a “good morning” in Korean (and you’ve had your coffee), you’re ready to start your day!