Sorry In Korean: 10 Remarkable Ways To Apologize

how to say sorry in korean apologize in korean

Being respectful is one of the most important things you should consider if you want to learn how to say sorry in Korean 죄송합니다 (jeosonghamnida). Saying sorry in the Korean language is one of the basic words that you need to know because it can be used in different situations.

Apologizing or saying sorry is a way of acknowledging your mistake and being humble. It also signifies being polite and respectful of other people’s feelings. We were taught to say sorry even for a small mistake when we were young. Back then, it was maybe easier. But as one becomes older with distinct ideas and opinions, apologizing is more challenging due to pride.

But how far can pride take you? Let’s be prepared to avoid pride or award moments and learn the best phrases to apologize in Korean.

What Are The Different Ways To Say Sorry In Korean?

If you want to learn Korean, you should also understand their culture. Aside from words, body gestures and facial expressions are very important in Korean culture when you want to say I’m sorry. For example, Koreans need to bow their heads when apologizing slightly. Also, unlike in other cultures, eye contact is considered rude in Korean culture. So, when you apologize in Korean, you should avoid eye contact and look to the floor instead. Remember, you have to be sensitive to their culture to avoid misunderstandings.

It’s easy to say sorry in English. But, if you are planning to visit Korea, there are different ways to ask for an apology and say sorry in the Korean language. Just like saying Thank You 감사합니다 (gam sa ham ni da), saying sorry in Korean considers levels of formality. So, asking for an apology depends on the situation and the person you are talking to. If you want to know the Korean way to say sorry, here is a list of Korean words and phrases that you must learn from formal to informal.

  • 죄송합니다. (joe song ham ni da.) – I am sorry. (Formal)
  •  죄송해요. (joe song hae yo.) – I am sorry. (A bit less formal)
  •  미안합니다. (mi an ham ni da.) – Sorry. (Formal)
  •  잘못했습니다. (jal mot haet seum ni da.) – It is my fault. (Formal)
  •  실례합니다. (sillye ham ni da.) – Excuse me. / I am sorry for interrupting. (Formal)
  •  진심으로 사과드립니다. (jinsimeuro sagwadeurimnida.) – I would like to apologize sincerely. (Formal)
  •  용서해 주세요. (yongseohae juseyo.) – Please forgive me. (Formal)
  •  미안해 (mi an hae) – Sorry (Informal)
  •  미안 (mi an) – Sorry (Informal)
  •  저기요 (jeogiyo) – Excuse me. or Sorry for interrupting (less formal)
  •  저기 (jeogi) – Excuse me or Sorry for interrupting (informal)

6 Formal Ways To Say I’m Sorry In Korean

As mentioned above, being respectful and polite is really important in Korean culture. There are different ways to express your apology in the Korean language, but the most important way you should learn is the formal way of apologizing. This can go a long way, and it will avoid misunderstanding. So here are some formal ways to say sorry in Korean.

Sorry in Korean formal

1. 죄송합니다. (joe song ham ni da.)

English Translation: I am sorry. (Formal)

죄송합니다 (joe song ham ni da.) is one of the most important phrases that you need to know, as it is most commonly used as a formal way to apologize. 

You will use it a lot when you travel across Korea, starting from riding subways, shopping in local stores, walking in the streets, and dining in restaurants. You can say 죄송합니다. (joe song ham ni da) in most situations, as it sounds polite and respectful.

As a foreigner, you should always use the polite form of saying sorry in Korean. You could never go wrong with that because it signifies respecting their culture.

Sorry in Korean less formal sorry synonym

2. 죄송해요. (joe song hae yo.)

English Translation: I am sorry. (A bit less formal)

The phrase 죄송해요 (joe song hae yo) has the same meaning as 죄송합니다 (joe song ham ni da.)

The only difference is that 죄송해요(joesonghaeyo.) is less formal than 죄송합니다 (joe song ham ni da) although it is still formal!

This phrase can be used when talking to professionals like your professor or someone older than you.

Sorry in Korean other formal

3. 미안합니다 (mi an ham ni da.)

English Translation: Sorry (Formal)

미안합니다 (mi an ham ni da) is another way to say sorry in the Korean language. You will hear much of this among the locals when you visit Korea or watch their series and movies. The feeling that the term tries to convey is discomfort after doing something you deeply regret. 

The term 미안합니다 (mi an ham ni da) is Sino-Korean (it comes from a Chinese character), just like 죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida). However, although it is still polite, it is less formal than saying 죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida). 

Remember that a Korean word becomes a higher formal level when you add 합니다 (ham-ni-da). 

Sorry In Korean It is my fault

4. 잘못했습니다. (jal mot haet seum ni da.)

English Translation: It is my fault.

Acknowledging your fault can be challenging for some people, and it takes much humility and courage to do this. So, if you know that you did something wrong and you want to ask for an apology formally, you can say 잘못했습니다 (jal mot haet seum ni da).

Sorry In Korean excuse me

5. 실례합니다. (sillye ham ni da.)

English Translation:  Excuse me. / I am sorry for interrupting.

The phrase 실례합니다 (sillye ham ni da) is also a formal way to say sorry in the Korean language. Interrupting people when they have conversations or are in the middle of an action is considered rude, especially when the other person is a stranger.

If you visit Korea, there will be a time that you need to ask around. In that case, 실례합니다 (sillye ham nida) would be the correct phrase for you to use.

Sorry In Korean sincerely apologize

6. 진심으로 사과드립니다. (jinsimeuro sagwadeurimnida.)

English Translation: I would like to apologize sincerely.

Another formal and extra polite way to say sorry in Korean is 진심으로 사과드립니다. (jinsimeuro sagwadeurimnida.). If you feel incredibly sorry about doing something wrong to someone else, you can use this phrase.

The phrase is usually used in written form in letters or emails. You might come across it if you work in a Korean company.

7. 용서해 주세요. (yongseohae juseyo.)

English Translation: Please forgive me.

The phrases 용서해 주세요 (yongseohae juseyo) and 잘못했습니다(jalmothaetseumnida) have the similar meaning. 

The difference is that 잘못했습니다 (jal mot haet seum ni da) is used to apologize and indirectly request forgiveness. In contrast, 용서해 주세요 (yongseohae juseyo) is used to ask for forgiveness directly.

What Are The Informal Ways To Say I’m Sorry In Korean

Now that you have learned the different formal and polite ways of saying sorry in Korean, let’s move on to informal ways. Using informal ways of apologizing is only advisable for people comfortable enough with the language who distinguish the situations where to use each form.

Informal ways are used when talking to a close friend, family, or someone of the same age. If you are a beginner in learning Korean or a first-timer in Korea, using formal and polite words will be the safest option for you.

Korean people will usually understand that a foreigner is still learning and will forgive people if they aren’t speaking politely enough. Still, if you ever encounter a person who gets angry, you can immediately use the words you learned to say sorry in Korean.

Now, these are the words you can use with your close friends:

1. 미안해 (mi an hae)

English Translation: Sorry

If you want to say sorry to your close friends, you can say 미안해 (mi an hae). This phrase is the most commonly used informal way of saying sorry in Korean. You can use this in casual conversations with your friends or significant others.

2. 미안해요. (mi an hae yo.)

On the other hand, 미안해요 (mi an hae yo) is another least formal way to say sorry in Korean. You can also hear this term used in Korean dramas and movies. It isn’t a word to use with your professors, but it would come in handy if you ever have to apologize to your friend and you still don’t want to use only 미안해. (mi an hae)

3. 미안 (mi an)

English Translation: Sorry

You might be confused between the phrases 미안해 (mi an hae) and 미안 (mi an). These Korean phrases are used interchangeably. The phrase 미안 (mi an) is an abbreviated form of 미안해 (mi an hae) or 미안해요 (mi an hae yo). Although it is sometimes used more in text messages to save time, they have the same meaning.

4. 저기요 (jeogiyo)

English Translation: Excuse me, or Sorry for interrupting

This is another way of saying sorry in Korean. This expression has two meanings you should note to avoid misunderstandings. First, you can use it to call someone’s attention to complain about something to another person.

Be careful of using this because this might negatively affect someone, so try to think about the situation before saying 저기요 (jeogiyo).

Another way you can use it is when calling the server at a restaurant. 저기요 (jeogiyo) can be used to address anyone as it contains the ending ‘요,’ known as (존댓말(jondaetmal). It indicates that it is friendly or less formal but polite enough to use with a stranger.

For example, you can use this word if you see someone dropped its purse on the street, you pick it up, and want to give it back before the person leaves.

When speaking with friends or family, you can also use the informal form 저기 (jeogi).

There are different ways to say sorry in the Korean language. These words sound different from each other, but they only have one purpose: to ask for a sincere apology and acknowledge that you have done something wrong.

The word sorry is a big word for people. Even though it is hard to express your sincere apology sometimes, remember that apologizing doesn’t always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right.

Sometimes, it means that you value your relationship more than your ego and pride.

Other Ways To Say Sorry In Korean

If you want to learn Korean effectively, you should expand your vocabulary. For example, here are other ways to say sorry in Korean that you can use in different situations.

KoreanPronunciationEnglish Translation
다시는 안 그럴게.Dasineun an geureolgeyo.I won’t do it again.
그걸 의미한 게 아니에요.
Geugeol uimihan ge ani eyoI didn’t mean that.
용서해 주길 바라요.Yongseohae jugil barayo.I hope you forgive me.
내 책임이에요.Nae chaegimieyo.I take full responsibility.
사과하고 싶어요.Sagwahago sipeoyo.I would like to apologize.
진심으로 사과드립니다.Jinsimeuro sagwadeurimnida.I sincerely apologize.
이 실수를 다시 하지 않도록 명심할게요.I silsureul dasi haji antorok myeongsimhalgeyo.I’ll make sure not to make this mistake again.
제가 그걸 하지 말았어야 했어요.Jega geugeol haji marasseoya haesseoyo.I shouldn’t have done it.
못되게 군 것 사과할게요.Motdoege gun geot sagwahalgeyo.I apologize for being mean to you.
돈을 늦게 돌려줘서 미안해요.Doneul neutge dolryeojwoseo mianhaeyo.Sorry for giving your money back late.
늦어서 미안해요.Neujeoseo mianhaeyo.Sorry I’m late.
제발 화내지 마세요.Jebal hwanaeji maseyo.Please don’t be mad at me.
이기적으로 굴어서 미안해요.Igijeogeuro gureoseo mianhaeyo.I’m sorry for being selfish.
 어머, 괜찮으세요? 너무 죄송합니다.Eomeo, gwaenchaneuseyo? neomu joesonghamnida.Oh no, are you okay? I am so sorry.
Sorry in Korean How to respond

Let’s Practice Saying Sorry!

How To Respond When Someone Apologizes in Korea?

Forgiveness does not mean trust can snap right back in; however, it is the first step in healing that can benefit you and the other person who hurt you. Therefore, upon learning how to say sorry in Korean, you should also learn how to respond when someone asks for an apology.

1. 괜찮습니다. (gwaenchanseumnida.)

English Translation: It’s okay.

The most common response for an apology is 괜찮습니다. (gwaenchanseumnida). When you are saying it to someone, make sure to use a calming tone to imply that you are okay with what happened. This may be used when someone accidentally bumps you in the streets or steps into your foot.

2. 아니요, 괜찮습니다. (aniyo, gwaenchanseumnida.)

English Translation: It’s okay, never mind.

The expression 아니요, 괜찮습니다. (aniyo, gwaenchanseumnida.) is like saying, “Don’t mind it.” This will make an impression that what happened does not bother you at all.

3. 용서해 줄게요. (yongseohae julgeyo.)

English Translation: I will forgive you.

If you want to express your forgiveness to someone who did something wrong to you, 용서해 줄게요 (yongseohae julgeyo) is the perfect phrase that you can politely use. But, of course, you also have to make sure you plan to settle your past argument not to happen again. 제가 (jega), which means “I,” and 당신을 (dangsineul), which means “you”, are always omitted when saying 용서해 줄게요.

4. 알았어요. 이번 한 번만 용서해 줄게요. (arasseoyo. ibeon han beonman yongseohae julgeyo.)

English Translation: Alright. I will forgive you this time.

The expression 알았어요. 이번 한 번만 용서해 줄게요. (arasseoyo. ibeon han beonman yongseohae julgeyo.) has almost the same meaning as the previous one. The only difference is you are letting the other person know that it is his/her last chance, and if it happens again, there will be a huge chance that he/she may not be forgiven. Since this is a bit formal way, if you want to speak informally, drop out the last 요 (yo) in every sentence. 알았어. 이번 한 번만 용서해 줄게. (arasseo. ibeon han beonman yongseohae julge.)

5. 알겠습니다. 이번 한 번만 용서해 주겠습니다. (algetseumnida. ibeon han beonman yongseohae jugeseumnida.)

English Translation: Understood. I/we will forgive you this time.

This expression is commonly used by employers or company owners for their employees who did something wrong. It sounds formal and official, making the listeners feel that everything they do may affect the business or company they are working with.

learn korean with Ling

Don’t Say Sorry In The Future. Learn Korean Now!

Are you one of those who were influenced by Korean dramas and music that made you want to learn Korean? Well, don’t waste time because you might feel sorry when you do. Ling app can be the answer for the language learning experience you are looking for.

Aside from blog posts, the Ling app has another way to learn, not just different ways to say I’m sorry in Korean. Ling app can also open doors for you to learn different lessons in a game-like way. With the Ling app, you can have fun and learn Korean at the same time.

Korean is a beautiful language that you can invest in. It reflects their culture they truly cherish and value, so don’t miss this opportunity and start learning Korean now!

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