The Korea Herald


[Korea Quiz] Korean phone etiquette

By Korea Herald

Published : April 8, 2024 - 17:14

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Find the answer at the bottom.

Phone calls can be tricky without the benefit of facial expressions to convey tone or intent. To avoid misunderstandings in Korea, knowing about phone etiquette is key.

The greeting “yeobosaeyo” is equivalent to “hello,” and is used by both the caller and the receiver, but it is typically used only during phone conversations, not in other contexts.

However, as it has become common to identify a caller through caller ID, many Koreans now answer the phone by acknowledging the caller, with "nae” (yes) or, if speaking casually to someone younger, “uh,” followed by the caller’s name, title or other forms of address. This indicates recognition of the caller's identity through saved contact information.

When making a phone call to someone or an institution for the first time, it's advisable to start by clearly identifying yourself and stating the purpose of your call.

Once the conversation commences, especially in a business context, it is recommended to communicate information concisely and directly.

Frequent interjections by the person on the other end of the call may come across as interruptive or rude, but in Korea, using words like "nae" or "uh" is considered important to demonstrate attentive listening.

Another unique aspect of Korean phone etiquette is the indirect approach to ending calls.

Unlike in other cultures where saying "goodbye” is standard practice when hanging up the phone, Koreans may signal the end of their dialogue with more diverse expressions like “sugo haseyo” (take care), or just by elongating “nae” to subtly indicate that the call is ending.

Lastly, it's considered impolite to hang up the phone if the person on the other end is older or of a more senior standing. You should wait for them to end the call first.

If you are the same age and considered equals, it is polite to let the person who initiated the call hang up first.

Answer: (b)