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How do you reject in Korean?


In Korean culture, it is important to show respect and maintain social harmony. One of the ways to do this is by knowing how to reject politely. Whether it’s declining an invitation or turning down a request, rejecting in Korean requires a delicate balance of language and tone. In this article, we will explore the various ways to reject in Korean.

Understanding Honorifics

Korean language has a complex system of honorifics that reflects social status and age. When rejecting someone, it is important to use the appropriate level of formality. The most common honorifics used are -yo ending for polite language and -imnida for formal language.

Using Polite Language

Polite language is used when talking to someone who is younger or a friend. When rejecting, it is polite to add the word “mianhamnida” which means “I’m sorry.” For example, “Mianhamnida, naega yeoreul saenggakhaess-eoyo” translates to “I’m sorry, but I’ve already made plans.”

Using Formal Language

Formal language is used when talking to someone who is older or in a higher position. When rejecting in formal language, it is important to use the correct honorifics. For example, “Joh-eun geos ibnida, gamsahamnida” translates to “It’s a good offer, but thank you.”

Using Polite Tone

In Korean culture, tone plays an important role in communication. When rejecting politely, it is important to use a gentle and respectful tone. This can be achieved by adding phrases like “jibchagie” which means “unfortunately” or “eotteohke” which means “how.”

Using Indirect Language

Sometimes, it is better to use indirect language when rejecting in Korean. This can be achieved by using phrases like “jeonhwahal su eobs-eossda” which means “I couldn’t answer the phone” or “geuleohge malhaess-eoyo” which means “I said that before.”

Offering Alternatives

When rejecting, it is important to show consideration and offer alternatives. For example, “Jjikgo bwaeyo” means “let’s reschedule” or “heundeul-eobwado joh-a” means “it’s okay if we don’t go.”

Acknowledging Gratitude

In Korean culture, it is important to show gratitude even when rejecting. Adding phrases like “gamsahamnida” which means “thank you” or “bogoship-eossda” which means “I missed you” can show appreciation and soften the rejection.

Avoiding Direct Rejection

In some situations, it may be better to avoid direct rejection to maintain social harmony. This can be achieved by using phrases like “naega dollyeowass-eumnida” which means “I’ll think about it.”

Using Humor

Humor can be a great way to reject in Korean without causing offense. Using phrases like “geumanhae” which means “stop it” or “neomu joh-a” which means “too good for me” can add levity to the situation.

Being Firm but Polite

In some situations, it may be necessary to be firm when rejecting. However, it is important to maintain politeness and respect. Adding phrases like “jogeum deo ppeonh-a haeyo” which means “please understand me a little” can show empathy while being firm.

Knowing When to Apologize

In Korean culture, apologizing is a way to show respect and take responsibility. When rejecting, it is important to know when to apologize. Adding phrases like “jeongmal mianhamnida” which means “I’m really sorry” can show sincerity and soften the rejection.


In conclusion, rejecting in Korean requires a delicate balance of language, tone, and cultural understanding. Whether using polite or formal language, offering alternatives or avoiding direct rejection, it is important to maintain respect and harmony. By knowing how to reject politely in Korean, you can navigate social situations with grace and consideration.

How do you reject someone in Korean?

In Korean culture, it is considered more respectful to use indirect speech, especially when speaking to someone in a position of authority. The phrase “아니에요(anieyo)” which literally means “it’s not” is commonly used as a polite way to decline an invitation.

How do you express dislike in Korean?

To say “I dislike this” in Korean, you can break it down into syllables: 이-거 (i-geo), followed by 싫어해요 (sireohaeyo). The literal translation of 싫어해요 (sireohaeyo) is “dislike,” so together the phrase translates to “I dislike this” in English.

What does JAL GA mean in Korean?

When someone is departing, you can use the phrase “Jal ga” which translates to “go well”.

What is Animida in Korean?

The word “anida” in Korean means “not.” When speaking formally, it changes to “anieyo” or “animnida,” and when speaking informally, it changes to “aniya.”

How do you say no in a nice way?

Declining an invitation or offer can be done politely with phrases such as “I appreciate the offer, but unfortunately cannot accept,” “Although I am honored, I am unable to attend,” “I would love to, but unfortunately am unable to,” or “I appreciate the invitation, but my schedule is completely full.”

What is Choayo in Korean?

Choayo is a term used to express liking or agreement, similar to saying “I like it,” “I’m down,” or “good” in English. It can be used to refer to both people and things.

Considering the Context

When rejecting in Korean, it is important to consider the context of the situation. For example, if someone is offering you food or a gift, it is polite to initially refuse but then accept after the person insists. This is known as “ssibal” culture in Korea, where refusing something initially is seen as humble and polite.

Using Nonverbal Communication

In addition to language, nonverbal communication can also play a role in rejecting politely in Korean. Avoiding direct eye contact or bowing slightly can show respect while indicating disagreement. It is important to be aware of these cultural cues to effectively communicate rejection without causing offense.

Practicing Active Listening

When rejecting, it is important to actively listen to the other person’s request or invitation. This shows that you value their input and are considering their feelings. Additionally, rephrasing their request or summarizing their invitation before rejecting can show that you have understood their perspective and are respectfully declining.

Knowing When to Compromise

While rejecting may be necessary in some situations, it is also important to know when to compromise. If the request or invitation is reasonable and not too inconvenient, offering a compromise can maintain social harmony while also meeting your own needs. For example, suggesting a different time or location for a meeting can show consideration while still declining the initial offer.

Ending on a Positive Note

Finally, when rejecting in Korean, it is important to end on a positive note. Adding phrases like “geurae doedollida” which means “let’s meet again soon” or “yeogi anjeonhaeyo” which means “be safe here” can show that you value the relationship and maintain goodwill. Ending on a positive note can also leave the door open for future opportunities to connect.

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