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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Apology Accepted: The best way to Say Sorry in Korean

You’re working late… once more.

Your Korean (soon-to-be-ex) girlfriend has been ready in a espresso store for 2 hours. And, judging by the appears of these emojis, she’s fuming mad.

Once you lastly arrive, you determine to lighten the temper and shock her by coming as much as her from behind and cupping her eyes, teasingly asking “Guess who?”… and poking her within the eye, as an alternative.

In moments like this, you’ll be very glad to know how one can correctly express regret in Korean.

Right here’s one other potential situation:

Yesterday, your Korean boss gave a C-level presentation with a PowerPoint Presentation you picked from skinny air. You had been so hungover from the evening earlier than and had been in such a rush that you simply made a multitude of issues. You virtually received all the things incorrect.

Like his identify.

You bought the fiscal 12 months incorrect, some decimals and commas on the numbers received misplaced and, by the tip of the presentation, you made it appear to be the corporate has been underwater for years and negated all of the laborious work accomplished by everybody within the firm.

So at the moment, you may have the respect of being known as to your boss’ workplace. (I’m guessing a promotion isn’t on the plate.)

An apology is certainly so as.

In case you haven’t caught on but, saying “Sorry!” in Korean would be the crux of this put up.

And also you’d higher do it proper otherwise you’ll be out of a job and a romantic associate very quickly. And no one would be the least bit sorry for you.

So, let’s grovel away, then?

The two Primary Methods to Say “Sorry” in Korean

By this time, you already know that there are ranges of politeness in Korean. There’s the formal or further well mannered language that you simply use for elders, and there’s a informal tone that’s the language of shut pals.

There are two fundamental stems for apologizing in Korean, as nicely.

One is 미안 (mi-ahn), and the opposite is 죄송 (joe-song). They each imply “Sorry,” although the latter is taken into account extra formal.

Let’s have a look at every, and a few of their variations, in nearer element.

미안 (mi-ahn)

Variations: 미안, 미안해, 미안해요, 미안합니다

미안 (mi-ahn)

You’ll be able to merely say 미안. However it wouldn’t imply a lot.

It’s probably the most casual means of apologizing in Korean. It’s not that severe and has nearly a playful tone to it, typically even accompanied by a smirk. You employ this when addressing kids or individuals youthful than you, and when the boo-boo you’ve made is absolutely not that severe. Virtually a token apology, I’d say.

미안해 (mi-ah-nae)

You merely add (hae) to the 미안 stem.

We’re nonetheless within the informal territory with 미안해. You employ it when saying sorry to your folks. So it’s in all probability the commonest apology thrown round.

Additionally, that is typically the apology utilized in boyfriend-girlfriend relationships. Though within the situation, you’ve created above, your “Sorry” is likely to be extra acceptable when accompanied by romantic gestures of “reparations” like flowers and candies, and many others. (I imply, you probably did poke her eye.)

미안해요 (mi-ah-nae-yo)

You merely add 해요 (hae-yo) to the 미안 stem.

With 미안해요, we’re now getting into the formal class. The tone is extra severe. You employ 미안해요 for people who find themselves slightly bit older than you and individuals who rank greater than you at work or in society.

미안합니다 (mi-ah-nam-ni-da)

Lastly, once you add 합니다 (ham-ni-da) to 미안, you may have 미안합니다, which is probably the most formal type of apology of the 미안 stem.

If you’d like, you possibly can add 정말 (jeong-mal) in the beginning of the section and find yourself with 정말 미안합니다 (jeong-mal mi-ah-nam-ni-da). 정말 is the Korean equal of the English phrase “very” or “actually.” Including it serves as an intensifier and can let the aggrieved get together know that you simply’re actually sorry for the damage emotions you’ve induced.

Okay, let’s transfer on to the second stem.

죄송 (Joe-song)

Variations: 죄송해요, 죄송합니다

With 죄송, we’re getting much more formal with the apology.

죄송해요 (Joe-song-hae-yo)

죄송해요 can be used with elders—like once you’re apologizing to oldsters or grandparents and people who find themselves clearly above you in age, rank, or social standing. Your boss, within the situation above, ought to no less than get this apology.

죄송합니다 (Joe-song-ham-ni-da)

죄송합니다 is a really formal means of claiming “Sorry.” You understand that once you see endings like 합니다, it means the scenario requires well mannered and formal language.

You employ 죄송합니다 to apologize to individuals you don’t know. Let’s say in your rush to get to the espresso store the place your girlfriend’s been ready for 2 hours, you stumble upon any individual on the street. You say, 죄송합니다.

So for a Korean newbie, you’d likely want this one in your arsenal.


Korean Phrases to Specific That You’re Sorry

제 잘못이에요. (Je jal-mo-si-e-yo.) — It’s my fault.

This assertion is a humble admission of fault or mistake, so you possibly can add it to bolster your apology.

Take notice that in Korea, you say “Sorry” solely once you’ve truly made a mistake and have induced hurt or damage. It’s basically an admission of fault. Which means, the error is attributable to you.

Within the West, the phrase “Sorry” has extra diversified makes use of. For instance, “Sorry” can be utilized to specific how unhappy or sorrowful you’re at some unlucky flip of occasions—even once you clearly don’t have anything to do with it.

Let’s say a buddy didn’t make the soccer group. Anyone from the West would say, “Dude, that sucks. I’m actually sorry to listen to that.”

This doesn’t occur in Korea. You don’t use the phrase “sorry” as a result of it’s not your fault he didn’t make the group. So that you don’t use 미안해 or 미안해요.

Within the scenario of your buddy not making the soccer group, you possibly can say 안타깝네요 (an-ta-kkam-ne-yo) as an alternative. It means you’re unhappy to listen to about it… however not “sorry.”

다시는 안 그럴게. (Da-si-neun an geu-reol-ge.) — I gained’t do it once more.

Not doing it once more is, in fact, the very best proof that you simply actually are sorry for what you’ve accomplished. It proves to the opposite get together that you simply’re severely repentant of your offense.

Since saying “Sorry” doesn’t occur in a vacuum, when apologizing, there are related gestures, facial expressions and tones that it is best to do to point out regret.

Bowing when asking for forgiveness is predicted, particularly when addressing elders, strangers, and people above you. Bowing is deeply rooted in Korean tradition, they usually bow to point out respect, gratitude, and remorse. Waist bowing at a 45-degree angle is commonplace.

However, simply as you need to calibrate your apology to the diploma of offense, stage of remorse and the connection you may have with the aggrieved get together, the bow is calibrated as nicely. The factor to recollect is that the more serious the offense and the deeper your regret, the decrease you bow and the longer you keep down.

Massive bows of apology, like when Korean public officers or public personalities kneel in entrance of the cameras to point out regret for an offense, don’t occur day by day. (Though Korean dramas make it appear to be they occur each week.)

When asking for forgiveness to individuals your age, these youthful than you, your girlfriend or your circle of pals, overt acts of ritual usually are not required. A slight tilt of the pinnacle and delivering your 미안해 in a somber tone are sufficient.

제발 화내지 마세요. (Je-bal hwa-nae-ji ma-se-yo.) — Please don’t be mad at me.

Anybody who’s studying about an entire new tradition is prone to commit a social fake pas that might require an apology. In that case, you’ll want to make use of this apology.

Totally different cultures have other ways of doing issues and chances are you’ll inadvertently trigger slightly scene simply since you don’t know higher. For instance, an necessary a part of Korean etiquette is that elders set the tempo of household occasions. In a eating scenario, for instance, the oldest individual will get to take the primary chunk which indicators others to begin consuming. You scarfing down your meals earlier than grandma will get to her personal will not be a pleasant image.

Koreans are usually understanding of foreigners’ social booboos, however it is best to undoubtedly have your 죄송합니다 prepared simply in case.

The best way to Reply When Somebody Says “Sorry” to You

On the uncommon event that you end up on the alternative facet of the equation, and any individual has damage you, forgiveness is one of the best perspective ahead.

You’ll be able to say issues like the next phrases:

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

Say this in somber tones and with a glowing tear in your eye for full impact. Present the opposite person who despite the fact that you’re nonetheless damage, you’re prepared to be the larger individual and transfer previous the offense.

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

Should you’re the miffed girlfriend, Visa and Grasp Card additionally accepted.

아니에요, 괜찮습니다. (A-ni-e-yo, gwaen-chan-seum-ni-da.) — It’s okay, by no means thoughts.

Say this to the opposite individual once you need to play it cool (despite the fact that you’re, for example, actually bleeding). It rapidly absolves the opposite get together of the offense and refuses to take the error too severely. Individuals make errors and also you’d need others to forgive you on days you make yours.


Now you understand how to express regret in Korean. This isn’t a license to do belongings you’ll have to apologize for, but it surely’s a great talent to have in case you want it.

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