TTMIK Culture Ramblings – Speaking Korean in Korea as a Foreigner

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You don’t necessarily need to speak the local language when you visit a foreign country, but even if you can speak just a little, your experience may be much better. In Korea, many Korean people will be pleasantly surprised and nicer to you even if you only know how to say “hello” or “thank you” in Korean. In this episode of TTMIK Culture Ramblings, Stephanie and Hyojin are joined by Alex (Alex’s YouTube) to talk about what it’s like to speak Korean in Korea as a foreigner.

<About this series> Welcome to  “TTMIK Culture Ramblings”! In each episode, you will listen to a roundtable discussion, in English, between people who were born and raised in Korea and someone with a different perspective. These 100% real and unscripted laid-back conversations cover various topics related to Korea and Korean culture. If you have any topics that you’d like us to discuss, be sure to tell us in the episode’s comments section


My Weekly Korean Vocabulary!

Learning different expressions and sentences derived from a keyword is a very effective way not only to understand the word in the context but also to improve your sentence building skills, like you practiced with this lessons. Check out My Weekly Korean Vocabulary e-books with which you can learn 7 new keywords every week with 20 accompanying sample sentences followed by vocabulary note for each keyword!

Interview #9 – Alex Ristich
We, the TTMIK teachers, know many people who speak Korean well. Alex Ristich is one of the most fluent people we’ve met. We had the chance to sit down with Alex for an English + Korean interview a couple years ago so he could reveal how he became interested in learning Korean and what he’s done to improve his language skills. Check out the interview below!

TTMIK Culture Ramblings – Speaking Korean in Korea as a Foreigner
  • Leah Benjamin

    I really enjoyed this discussion. The few Koreans that I’ve come across here in America really do seem excited when I use the Korean language.

    • Hyojin

      I’m glad you enjoyed this episode 🙂

  • James

    This episode was great 🙂

  • Jean-Noël

    That’s a really enjoyable talk you had here 🙂
    Wish I could go back in Korea and be less shy about saying some words in Korean now that I have more basics than before !
    Anyway, the few times I said some stuffs in Korean, I didn’t get that much reaction. Except with friends that were encouraging me to speak 😀

    • Seokjin Jin

      Thanks for your comment. You should hang out with the friends more and more. 🙂

    • Wish I could ! Need to go back to Korea for that, and it’s damn far from the small island i live in 😉

  • kaekaed

    I want to speak Korean (well) in Korea when I next visit. It was a real eye-opener of how little Korean I knew when I last went. 감사합니다, 네 & 요기요 were the words I used the most. Unfortunately, I had been there several days before I remembered to add 요. I felt so bad that I had been rude to the taxi drivers. 요기….요 made several cab drivers laugh at my forgetfulness.
    But I was still able to communicate because many people spoke some English and liked to talk to the hyper white girl. (Also, I spent money in their shops, so they liked that too.) People would go out of their way to have a conversation with me and sometimes it was 1/2 broken English and 1/2 broken Korean (I knew other words, but not how to make a sentence)
    The best part about visiting Korea was meeting the people. I regret that because I myself am camera shy, i didn’t ask to take pictures of them (I thought it was rude). So i can’t really remember their faces that well, but I remember how they made me feel. From the tour guide who walked back with me through the palace so I wouldn’t get lost, to the woman who stopped and asked if I needed directions, to the shop owners who chatted with me (and helped me find my hotel when I got turned around) and the chatty cab drivers (whose sons all live in CA) and so many more. They are why I want my Korean to improve, and it will.

    • Seokjin Jin

      Hi. Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂 Well, compare to other countries, Korean are not likely to be taken by other people’s camera but if you ask them first then some of them will be happily to in the picture.

  • Leah Benjamin

    I wish I had a Korean friend that was local, but I never meet any Koreans at the places I go. My only Korean friend lives in another stateㅠㅠ.

  • Angelica

    Good episode! Eventhough I haven’t been in korea, I know what you are talking about, I don’t speak fluent korean but when I talk to koreans through kakaotalk in order to practice, they always tell me at the beginnig “와!! 한국말 진짜 잘하네요” and when I make mistakes they tell me “귀여워요”. Then they became interested in the reason why a colombian girl is learning korean ^_^ but I like that reactions.

  • Jake Martinez

    I can’t really tune out any languages if I understand what is being said… it’s frustrating. Most recently, I had to stop listening to k-pop while studying Korean because I couldn’t ignore the words of the songs :'(

    • Seokjin Jin

      I think it is not good to study while you are listening to music. It is bad for your concentration.

  • Julianne

    I’m moving to Seoul in July, and this talk definitely helped inspire me to keep practicing my Korean every day! 감사합나다 티티믹!

    • Seokjin Jin

      Awesome! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  • Lilia

    It is like Ask, Hyojin! episode 😀
    Really nice one 😀 Thank you!

  • Britta Greenleigh Sheldon

    this is a great!

  • Britta Greenleigh Sheldon

    every time i speak korean to a korean person, they respond back in english

  • Julia

    I wouldn’t imagine travelling in any country without knowing how to say “hello” and “thank you”, at the very least.
    But this can backfire … thanks to ttmik lessons, I knew how to say hello, thank you and some very simple all-made sentences, and after listening you guys saying “hello everyone” sooo many times, my prononciation was quite good … so when I arrived in Korea, people stared at me for a second and then started to talk a lot and very fast, I didn’t get why they were that harsh on me. Until a friend explained to me that my “hello” was convincing enough for them to believe I was fluent in korean… We could call it a success, I think.

    You guys have to stop saying “hello” at the beginning of each lesson … and I have to stop repeating it aloud in my car XD

    And it’s useless to know how to say “what is this ?” in any language until you’re good enough to understand the answer ><

  • Reem

    Whenever I speak in Korean to Koreans they always tell me that I speak Korean very well. How should I reply to that?