Culture Capsule 10

Don’t call someone older than you by their first name.

People don’t speak in the first person in Korea. We don’t often use the pronoun ‘you’ either, especially to someone older than you. While you can use the name of a younger brother/sister or a friend of the same age, you can’t use your colleague’s name, boss’s name or the name of someone you don’t know well. In the family or at school, girls can call an older brother, older male friend ‘오빠’ and boys can use ‘형’. Likewise, girls can call an older sister, older female friend ‘언니’ and boys can use ‘누나’. In the office, it’s a good idea to add ‘님’ to the last name and job title of all older people. Among colleagues, they add ‘씨’ after a man or woman’s full name.

- Write reference Korean Languge Education Center, Sogang University

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