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How do you address a Korean person?


In South Korea, addressing someone properly is very important because it reflects your respect and manners towards that individual. Understanding how to address a Korean person can be a bit challenging because it involves factors like age, social status, and gender. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on how to address a Korean person in different settings.

Addressing Elders

In Korean culture, age is highly valued and respected. Therefore, addressing an elder requires the use of honorifics. The most common honorifics are “-nim” and “-ssi”. “-nim” is used for those who are older or have higher positions than you, while “-ssi” is for those who are about the same age or lower in status than you. For example, you should address your boss as “boss-nim” and your grandfather as “grandfather-nim”. If you are unsure about which honorific to use, it is always better to err on the side of caution and use “-nim”.

Addressing Peers

When addressing someone who is the same age or younger than you, it is not necessary to use honorifics. Instead, you can simply use their name with no title attached. It’s also common to add the suffix “-ah” or “-ya” to their name as a sign of closeness or familiarity. For example, if your friend’s name is Joon, you can address him as “Joon-ah” or “Joon-ya”.

Formal Settings

In formal settings such as business meetings or interviews, it’s important to use proper titles when addressing someone. If someone has a job title like “Director”, you should address them as “Director-nim”. If they have a professional title like “Doctor”, you should address them as “Doctor-nim”. Using titles shows respect and professionalism.

Informal Settings

In informal settings such as social gatherings or outings, it’s okay to drop the honorifics and simply use the person’s name. However, if you are unsure about how to address someone, it’s always better to use honorifics than to risk offending them.

Using Names

When addressing someone by their name, it’s important to know that Koreans usually write their last name first, followed by their first name. For example, if someone’s name is Kim Joon, you should address them as “Kim Joon-ssi” or “Joon-ah”.

Gender Differences

In Korea, gender differences also play a role in how people are addressed. Women are often addressed with the honorific “-yo” at the end of their name. For example, if someone’s name is Park Soo-Young, you can address her as “Park Soo-Young-yo”. However, this honorific is not necessary in all situations and can be left out in more casual settings.

Using Titles

In addition to using honorifics with names, it’s also common to address someone by their professional or academic title. For example, if someone is a professor, you can address them as “Professor-nim”. If they have a Master’s degree, you can address them as “Master-nim”.

Avoiding Mistakes

To avoid making mistakes when addressing a Korean person, it’s important to pay attention to the context and setting. If you’re unsure about how to address someone, it’s always better to ask for clarification than to make assumptions.

Body Language

In addition to verbal language, body language is also important when addressing someone in Korea. It’s important to show respect by bowing slightly when greeting someone, especially if they are older or have a higher status.


While the guidelines above provide a general overview of how to address a Korean person, there are exceptions to these rules. For example, in some cases, people may prefer to be addressed by their first name only, or they may not use honorifics at all. It’s important to pay attention to the individual’s preferences and adjust accordingly.


Addressing a Korean person is an important part of Korean culture and shows respect and manners towards others. By following the guidelines above, you can ensure that you address someone properly and avoid any misunderstandings or offense. Remember that context and setting play a role in how to address someone, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution and ask for clarification if you’re unsure.

How do you address someone by name in Korea?

In Korean, the title “씨” [ssi] is commonly used to address someone politely, and it can be added to a person’s full name or just their first name as a marker of respect.

Is it SSI or Nim?

In Korean culture, the honorific “nim” (Hangul: 님) is the most respectful way to address someone, even above “ssi.” It is used after the addressee’s name on letters, emails, and packages, and is typically translated as “Mr.” or “Ms./Mrs.”

How do you show respect in Korean?

It is important to display respect towards those who are older than you. This includes listening to and valuing their opinions, waiting for their input, and showing deference by lowering your gaze. Additionally, when you offer or receive objects, gifts or food, it is customary to use both hands. Lastly, it is appropriate to remove your hat when indoors as a sign of respect.

How do you address a Korean as Mr?

In Korean, the term “nim” is a common honorific used to address individuals who are considered to be of equal social ranking. It can be roughly translated to “Mr.” or “Madam” in English.

Do you address Koreans by first or last name?

In Korea, the surname is listed before the first name in traditional naming conventions.

What is SSI vs Nim in Korean?

When meeting strangers in South Korea, it is common to use the term “ssi” to refer to someone of the same age and social status. However, in formal or professional settings, the more polite term “nim” is used to show respect.

It’s also important to note that the use of honorifics and titles can vary depending on the region in Korea. Some regions may have different honorifics or titles that are used more frequently than others. It’s always a good idea to do some research or ask locals about regional customs before visiting a new area.

In addition, it’s common for Koreans to use different names or nicknames with close friends and family members. These names are often based on personal characteristics or physical traits, and they can be very different from the person’s actual name. However, it’s important to remember that these nicknames should only be used in informal settings with close friends and family members.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that the use of Korean honorifics and titles can be complex and nuanced, even for native speakers of the language. It’s not uncommon for Koreans to struggle with proper usage in certain situations, especially when dealing with people of different ages or social statuses. As a non-native speaker learning the language, it’s important to approach these customs with respect and patience, and to continue learning and refining your usage over time.

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