When visiting Korea, or speaking to Korean friends, there will inevitably come a time when you want to say sorry in Korean. Learning how to apologize in Korean will enable you to say sorry when you make mistakes or do something by accident. In this lesson, you will learn how to say sorry in Korean. We will show you the informal, polite, and formal ways to say sorry in Korean so that you can apologize using the correct expression.
The Korean words in this lesson are written in both Hangul and English. If you’ve not yet learned how to read the Korean alphabet, check out our complete Korean alphabet guide to help you learn how to read in Korean.
Sorry In Korean
Here are the most common ways to say sorry in Korean.
- 미안해 [mi-an-hae]
- 미안해요 [mi-an-hae-yo]
- 미안합니다 [mi-an-ham-ni-da]
- 죄송합니다 [joe-song-ham-ni-da]
I’m Sorry In Korean – Informal
The informal way to say I’m sorry in Korean is 미안해 [mi-an-hae]. As this is the informal way to say sorry, you should only use 미안해 [mi-an-hae] with close friends or people younger than you.
I’m Sorry In Korean – Polite
The polite way to say I’m sorry in Korean is 미안해요 [mi-an-hae-yo]. As you can see, this is the same as the informal expression with the polite ending 요 [yo] attached. 미안해요 [mi-an-hae-yo] can be used in most situations to apologize and you will sound polite. However, it is much more common to use one of the following two formal ways to say sorry in Korean.
I’m Sorry In Korean – Formal
미안합니다 [mi-an-ham-ni-da] is a formal way to say sorry in Korean. It can be used when you want to sound very polite and respectful when you apologize. For example, if you were apologizing to someone older than you, a stranger, your boss at work, your teacher, etc, you can use 미안합니다 [mi-an-ham-ni-da] to say sorry in a respectful way.
죄송합니다 [joe-song-ham-ni-da] is another formal way to say sorry in Korean. 죄송합니다 [joe-song-ham-ni-da] and 미안합니다 [mi-an-ham-ni-da] are the most common ways to say sorry. Although, they are formal expressions, they are used in everyday situations to say sorry politely and respectfully. If you’re not sure which way to say sorry in a particular situation, you can safely use 미안합니다 [mi-an-ham-ni-da] or 죄송합니다 [joe-song-ham-ni-da].
Usage Of Sorry In Korean
An important thing to note about saying sorry in Korean is that it is not used in the exact same way as it is in English. In English you can use the word ‘sorry’ to apologize and to express sympathy / condolence (e.g. “I am sorry your dog died.”)
However, in Korean 미안해 [mi-an-hae], 미안해요 [mi-an-hae-yo], 미안합니다 [mi-an-ham-ni-da], and 죄송합니다 [joe-song-ham-ni-da] can only be used to apologize. They can not be used to express sympathy/condolence.
For example, if one of your Korean friends told you that their dog had died and you said 죄송합니다 [joe-song-ham-ni-da] your Korean friend would likely ask why you are apologizing. This is because it would sound like you did something which caused the dog to die. To make sure you don’t make this common Korean mistake, just remember that the above expressions can only be used to apologize in Korean.