Learning how to say sorry in Korean is not just about memorizing phrases, but also understanding the cultural nuances and etiquette behind apologizing in Korea. Koreans place a significant emphasis on respect and humility, which is reflected in their language, body gestures, and facial expressions when apologizing. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different ways to apologize in Korean, from formal to informal expressions, and delve into the cultural aspects that you need to be mindful of while seeking forgiveness. So, let’s begin our journey to mastering the art of apologizing in Korean!

Woman shrugging
✅ AI Essay Writer ✅ AI Detector ✅ Plagchecker ✅ Paraphraser
✅ Summarizer ✅ Citation Generator

Understanding the Importance of Apologizing in Korean Culture

Before delving into the various phrases, it’s essential to grasp the significance of apologizing in Korean culture. Apologizing is not merely admitting your mistake; it’s a gesture of acknowledging the impact of your actions on others and expressing sincere remorse. Koreans are taught from a young age to apologize even for minor mistakes, and as they grow older, the value of humility becomes more crucial in their interactions.

Cultural Considerations when Apologizing in Korean

Apologizing in Korea goes beyond words; it involves body language and cultural sensitivities. When seeking forgiveness, it’s essential to be aware of the following cultural aspects:

Bow Your Head: In Korean culture, bowing is a sign of respect and sincerity. When apologizing, a slight bow is expected, especially in more formal situations.

Avoid Eye Contact: Unlike in some other cultures where eye contact shows sincerity, in Korea, direct eye contact during an apology may be considered rude. It’s customary to look down at the floor instead.

Levels of Formality: Korean language has various levels of formality, and the way you apologize depends on the person you are talking to and the situation. Using the appropriate level of politeness is crucial to show respect.

Formal Ways to Say Sorry in Korean

  1. 죄송합니다. (joe song ham ni da.) – I am sorry. (Formal) This phrase is one of the most commonly used ways to apologize formally in Korean. It can be used in various situations, such as riding subways, shopping in stores, or dining in restaurants.
  2. 죄송해요. (joe song hae yo.) – I am sorry. (A bit less formal) This expression is still formal but slightly less formal than 죄송합니다. It can be used when talking to someone like a professor or someone older than you.
  3. 미안합니다. (mi an ham ni da.) – Sorry (Formal) 미안합니다 conveys a sense of discomfort and deep regret after doing something wrong. It is a polite way to apologize formally.
  4. 잘못했습니다. (jal mot haet seum ni da.) – It is my fault. (Formal) If you want to take full responsibility for your actions and apologize formally, this phrase is a suitable choice.
  5. 실례합니다. (sillye ham ni da.) – Excuse me. / I am sorry for interrupting. (Formal) This expression is used when you want to apologize for interrupting someone or seeking their attention politely.
  6. 진심으로 사과드립니다. (jinsimeuro sagwadeurimnida.) – I would like to apologize sincerely. (Formal) When you feel an apology needs to be more heartfelt and genuine, this phrase conveys sincerity and remorse.

Informal Ways to Say Sorry in Korean

  1. 미안해 (mi an hae) – Sorry (Informal)When apologizing to friends, family, or someone of the same age, 미안해 is the most commonly used informal way to say sorry in Korean.
  2. 미안해요. (mi an hae yo.) – Sorry (Informal)Similar to 미안해, this phrase is informal but slightly more polite. It can be used in casual conversations with friends or significant others.
  3. 미안 (mi an) – Sorry (Informal)미안 is an abbreviated form of 미안해 or 미안해요 and has the same meaning. It is commonly used in text messages or casual conversations.
  4. 저기요 (jeogiyo) – Excuse me, or Sorry for interrupting (less formal)저기요 can be used to address anyone in a friendly but less formal manner, especially when seeking attention or asking for assistance.
  5. 저기 (jeogi) – Excuse me or Sorry for interrupting (informal)This form is even more casual and can be used among close friends or family members.

Other Ways to Apologize in Korean

Apart from the commonly used phrases mentioned above, you can expand your apology vocabulary with the following expressions:

  1. 다시는 안 그럴게요. (Dasineun an geureolgeyo.) – I won’t do it again.
  2. 그걸 의미한 게 아니에요. (Geugeol uimihan ge ani eyo) – I didn’t mean that.
  3. 용서해 주길 바라요. (Yongseohae jugil barayo.) – I hope you forgive me.
  4. 내 책임이에요. (Nae chaegimieyo.) – I take full responsibility.
  5. 사과하고 싶어요. (Sagwahago sipeoyo.) – I would like to apologize.

How to Respond when Someone Apologizes in Korean

When someone apologizes to you, you may respond using the following phrases to acknowledge their apology:

  1. 괜찮습니다. (Gwaenchanseumnida.) – It’s okay.
  2. 아니요, 괜찮습니다. (Aniyo, gwaenchanseumnida.) – It’s okay, never mind.
  3. 용서해 줄게요. (Yongseohae julgeyo.) – I will forgive you.
  4. 알았어요. 이번 한 번만 용서해 줄게요. (Arasseoyo. Ibeon han beonman yongseohae julgeyo.) – Alright. I will forgive you this time.
  5. 알겠습니다. 이번 한 번만 용서해 주겠습니다. (Algetseumnida. Ibeon han beonman yongseohae jugeseumnida.) – Understood. I/we will forgive you this time.


Apologizing in Korean is not just a matter of saying words; it involves understanding and respecting the cultural values attached to the act of seeking forgiveness. By learning the various ways to say sorry in Korean and the appropriate levels of formality, you can navigate different situations with grace and sincerity. Remember, sincerity and humility go a long way in fostering understanding and maintaining meaningful relationships in Korean culture. So, don’t hesitate to master the art of apologizing in Korean and embrace the cultural nuances that come with it. Happy learning!


How do I apologize in the Korean language?

To apologize in the Korean language, you can use various phrases depending on the level of formality and the situation. Some common ways to say sorry in Korean are:

  • 죄송합니다. (joe song ham ni da.) – I am sorry. (Formal)
  • 미안합니다. (mi an ham ni da.) – Sorry. (Formal)
  • 미안해 (mi an hae) – Sorry. (Informal)
  • 미안해요. (mi an hae yo.) – Sorry. (Informal)

What are the different ways to say sorry in Korean?

There are several ways to apologize in Korean, ranging from formal to informal expressions. Some examples include:

  • 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)
  • 미안해 (mi an hae) – Sorry. (Informal)
  • 저기요 (jeogiyo) – Excuse me, or Sorry for interrupting (less formal)

Are there formal and informal ways of apologizing in Korean?

Yes, in Korean, there are different levels of formality when apologizing. Formal ways are used when talking to strangers, elders, or in professional settings, while informal ways are used with friends, family, or people of the same age. It’s essential to use the appropriate level of politeness based on the person and the context.

Should I consider Korean culture when apologizing?

Absolutely, understanding Korean culture is crucial when apologizing in the Korean language. Koreans value respect, humility, and sincerity in apologies. Therefore, you should be mindful of body gestures like bowing and avoiding direct eye contact. Additionally, using the right level of formality is essential to show respect and avoid misunderstandings.

Responding with sincerity and understanding can help foster positive relationships and communication in Korean culture.


Opt out or Contact us anytime. See our Privacy Notice

Follow us on Reddit for more insights and updates.

Comments (0)

Welcome to A*Help comments!

We’re all about debate and discussion at A*Help.

We value the diverse opinions of users, so you may find points of view that you don’t agree with. And that’s cool. However, there are certain things we’re not OK with: attempts to manipulate our data in any way, for example, or the posting of discriminative, offensive, hateful, or disparaging material.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Register | Lost your password?