Episode 8
Lesson Recap

Useful Application of Learned Expressions & More Essential Korean Phrases

Key Points &
  • You learn a few honorific expressions in this episode. The honorific expression elevates the person who is being addressed or referred to.

  • 계세요, 누구세요, and 어디세요 are all honorific expressions used to someone who has not been identified.

  • 전화번호 : telephone number

  • 주소 : address

  • 성함 : name (honorific)

  • 생년월일 : date of birth (the year and the date)

  • 계세요? : Is anyone here? (honorific)

  • 누구세요? : Who is it? (honorific)

  • 여기요 : Here you go (used when handing something to someone)

  • 여보세요 : hello (the phrase to use when answering the phone )

  • 누구세요? : (on the phone, ) Who is this?

  • 어디세요? : (on the phone, ) Where are you calling from?

  • 실례지만 누구세요? : (on the phone, ) Excuse me, but who is this?

  • 실례지만 어디세요? : (on the phone, Excuse me, but where are you calling from?

  • (noun), 어떻게 되세요? : What is (noun)? (a polite and less abrupt way of asking personal information)

  • 알겠습니다 : I see; I got it


Directions: Assume the role in the situation and utilize one of the phrases learned in this episode.

1-1. Your neighbor’s mail has been delivered to your house by mistake. You knock on the neighbor’s door and try to see if anyone is home.

1-2. After your neighbor answers the door, you hand her the misdelivered mail.

2. Someone is knocking on your door, but you’re not expecting anyone.

3. You’re picking up your phone to answer.

4. You’ve answered the office phone, and the caller asks for your colleague without identifying where she’s calling from.

5. You’ve answered the office phone, and the caller asks for your colleague who is out to lunch. The caller wants your colleague to call her back, but hasn’t given you the phone number.

Episode 8

안녕하세요 여러분! 반갑습니다

Hello, This is Kay from EssentialKorean.com

In this episode, you’ll learn brand new expressions AND previously introduced expressions with additional uses.

When you learn these, you’ll probably go, Aha! I can see how those work! But if you don’t learn their specific uses, you might be missing out on the ways they are utilized or the purpose they serve in different situations.

Are you ready to learn them? Alright! Let’s get started!

As usual, I’ll ask you to imagine a situation. Today, you’ll be the exchange student from Episode 1 and 6.

Situation 1---------

A couple of weeks have passed. You’ve settled in your new home, learning the language and culture of Korea. Today, your host family is out and you are home by yourself. Then, you hear the doorbell ring; (띵동) . You’re caught off guard because you’ve never been home alone and have never had to answer the door. While you’re debating what to do, you hear a doorbell again (띵동), followed by this phrase: “세요"?

Repeat after me: 계세요?  계세요?  계세요?

Do you recall the goodbye from Episode 6, 안녕히 계세요 which means Please be in peace, used to someone who remains? The 계세요 here is the same as the 계세요 in 안녕히 계세요. It’s an honorific verb with a meaning be present’ or exist.

The corresponding English expression of 계세요 in this context would be, Is anybody here?

Ok back to the unidentified visitor who rang the doorbell and said, 계세요. Before you answer the door, you should ask who it is, right?

Do you probably remember one of the wh-word questions for who is it? from Episode 3?  If you said 누구예요?, excellent memory!

So, do you respond 누구예요? to the unidentified person?

Well, it would not be wrong, but there’s an expression more appropriate to use in this situation. It is: 누구세요?

Repeat after me: 누구세요?  누구세요?  누구세요?

누구 means who and 세요 is an honorific form with the meaning to be. So 누구세요 is asking who someone is in a polite way with the honorific verb.

The difference between 누구예요  and  누구세요 is with the speech level.

누구예요 is neutral with no hierarchy marked; whereas 누구세요 is the honorific form of 누구예요. The Korean ritual expressions for Is anybody here? and Who is it,  계세요? and 누구세요? respectively, are in the honorific form.

As reflected here, it’s better to take a conservative approach by adopting more polite and courteous speech styles towards people you do not know.

Now, let’s go back to where we left off. You’re home alone and hear a doorbell, followed by 계세요?  계세요?  계세요? ; and you’d try to find out who’s out there with, 누구세요?  누구세요  누구세요?

To your 누구세요, the person answers from behind the door, 택배요 .

택배 means delivery in English. You recognized the word because the host family gets frequent deliveries, ranging from food items to stationery to clothing.  On a side note, the network of the delivery system in Korea is, I’d say, impressive. You can easily find quick delivery services in Korea, and they deliver fast.  Anyways, you peek out and see someone with a package. You cautiously open the door and the delivery person hands you the box, saying, 여기요.

Do you remember this phrase? Yes, in the last episode, 여기요 was introduced as a phrase you can use for getting someone’s attention, like at a restaurant. But here, as you just saw, 여기요 can also be used when handing something to someone. The corresponding English would be Here you go.

Please repeat after me: 여기요.  여기요.  여기요.

You thank the delivery man, 고맙습니다, get the package and you’re done.

Before moving on the the next situation, let’s review:

A person checks to see if anyone is home and the other is behind the door having to identify who is at the door. Repeat after each phrase:

계세요? Is there anyone?
누구세요? Who is it?

택배요 It’s a delivery.
여기요 Here you go.


Situation 2---------

Moving on. Let’s imagine another scenario where you, the exchange student new to Korea, are home alone again. Your host family has a landline phone at home, which starts to ring (띠링).  You’re very hesitant to pick up the phone because you feel your Korean is not good enough. But you remind yourself of how you intend to spend your time in Korea: Participate, be engaged, and experience the culture! This gives you no choice but to answer the phone! Yay! Way to go!

In English, you answer the phone with hello.

How about in Korean? Although we learned 안녕하세요 is a form of greeting which corresponds to hello, in the context of answering the phone, it’s not 안녕하세요…

So... how do Koreans answer the phone?  It’s 여보세요

Repeat after me: 여보세요  여보세요  여보세요

The caller starts to say something but ... all of a sudden, your mind goes blank. You quickly gather your composure and remind yourself that this call is for your host family. You just need two pieces of information: 1) who the caller is and 2) their phone number to relay to your host family.

No problem! We can try to identify the caller with the questions we just learned:


Also, you can say, 어디세요, replacing 누구 who  with 어디 which means where.  You know 어디 from one of the WH-words questions in Ep 3. In the episode, 어디예요? which means Where is it? was introduced. Now we have 어디세요? which also means where is it but with the honorific verb 세요. Hear them again:

누구세요? Who is this? - asking who the person is

어디세요? Where is this? - asking where the person is calling from or what organization the person represents.

Ok, Now…. Let’s go just one step further. How about these?

실례지만 누구세요?

실례지만 어디세요?

Again, we have a familiar word here. 실례 was introduced in the last episode as well. It means a rude or bad-mannered act. The word that follows, 지만, is a conjunctive with a meaning but. So the corresponding English for 실례지만 누구세요? and 실례지만 어디세요? would be something like, I’m sorry, but who is this? and I’m sorry but where is this? respectively. More literal meaning would be, It’s bad manners to ask, but who are you? and It’s bad manners to ask, but where are you calling from?

Now, let’s practice speaking. Repeat after me. I’ll do back buildup where we start from the last word and work backward:

누구세요? 실례지만 누구세요?

누구세요? 실례지만 누구세요?

누구세요? 실례지만 누구세요?

어디세요? 실례지만 누구세요?

어디세요? 실례지만 누구세요?

어디세요? 실례지만 누구세요?

Thus, In a phone conversation, you can find out who the caller is or where the caller is calling from with one of the 4 following expressions:

실례지만 누구세요?

어디세요? Or

실례지만 어디세요?

To one of the four questions you use, the caller identifies himself or herself. You don’t perfectly understand what the caller is saying, but it’s OK.  You write down what you hear on a piece of paper as closely as possible.

Then What? Try asking for the caller’s phone number:

전화번호  어떻게 되세요?

전화번호 means telephone number,

어떻게 means how and 되세요 means become in the honorific form.

You may be wondering how telephone number, how, and become combined can become a phrase asking for a phone number?  Well, as mentioned in previous episodes, we must first see these ritual expressions for their functions and the purpose they serve, and put aside their literal meaning.

Think of 어떻게 되세요? as a courteous expression which asks for personal information in a less intrusive, roundabout way. If you recall Episode 3 where we learned 뭐예요 to be what is it, we can use 전화번호 뭐예요 as a direct way to ask for a phone number.

어떻게 되세요 can be also used to ask for other personal information such as one’s address, name, and date of birth for official documents. For example,

Asking for one’s address, 주소, you’d say 주소 어떻게 되세요?

Asking for one’s name, 이름, or its honorific counterpart 성함, you’d say,

이름 어떻게 되세요? ; or 성함 어떻게 되세요?

Asking for DOB, 생년월일, you’d say

생년월일 어떻게 되세요?

*As reflected in Situation 1 and Situation 2, people tend to take a more conservative approach when choosing the speech level and speech style to use when talking with people whom they don’t know well and the relation is yet to be revealed.

Btw, I don’t think we’ve practiced this expression yet. This may be the longest expression introduced so far, but I know you can do it. Here’s the expression asking politely for someone’s phone number. Repeat after me. I’ll do back buildup:

되세요? 어떻게 되세요? 전화번호 어떻게 되세요?  One more time.

되세요? 어떻게 되세요? 전화번호 어떻게 되세요?  One more time.

되세요? 어떻게 되세요? 전화번호 어떻게 되세요?

Back to the phone call. Having learned the Korean number system, you’re able to write down the telephone number, one number at a time, coming from the other side of the call. 

Excellent job!

After confirming the numbers with the caller, what would you want the person to know? Yes, let them know that you got the number:

This phrase 알겠습니다 is in the formal style, conjugated from the verb 알다 which means to know or to understand. It corresponds to I see or I got it in English.

Repeat after me: 알겠습니다   알겠습니다   알겠습니다

You then hang up the phone with 고맙습니다 or 안녕히 계세요.

Anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language knows how scary it can be to talk on the phone in a new language for the first time, but you took up the challenge, and did it!  Kudos to you.

  • Let’s run through the phone call from the beginning to the end:
    Answer the phone with: 여보세요

  • Find out who the caller is:
      누구세요 /  어디세요  / 실례지만 누구세요 / or  실례지만 어디세요

  • Ask politely for the phone number: 전화번호 어떻게 되세요?

  • After getting the information you need, end the call with 알겠습니다. 고맙습니다. 안녕히 계세요.

As a side note, in Korea, the cell phone number operates as one’s official ID number. Of course there is the national ID number system, but one’s cell phone number is connected to his/her national ID number; and many official verification processes are completed with both one’s cell phone AND the national ID numbers; or just the cell phone number alone. 

This explains why the process of getting a cell phone number is strict and the documents required for getting a cell phone number are extensive in Korea.

Ok, that was a short culture note. Let’s do a comprehensive review before we move on to the next part of the episode:

  • In Situation 1, a person checks to see if anyone is home and the person behind the door has to identify who it is. Please visualize the situation and repeat after each phrase:

계세요? Is there anyone?
누구세요? Who is it?

택배요 It’s a delivery.
여기요 Here you go.


  • In Situation 2, a person answers the phone, finds out who is calling, and gets the call-back number. Again, visualize the situation and repeat after each phrase:

여보세요? Hello?
실례지만 누구세요?  or 실례지만 어디세요? Who is it? Where’re you calling from?

전화번호 어떻게 되세요? May I have your phone number?
알겠습니다 I see; or I got it.

고맙습니다. 안녕히 계세요. Thank you. Goodbye.

QUIZ - - - - -

Let’s reinforce the key lesson points in the form of a quiz.


You’re moving to a new apartment and are planning to do some renovations. Before you start the renovations though, the management office tells you that you need to submit a required form. You need to get your neighbors’ signatures that prove that they have been made aware of possible noise and inconveniences your renovations may cause. After you ring the doorbell of your neighbors’ apartments, what can you say?

If you said 계세요?, you’re correct!

Q2: You’re not expecting anyone, but you suddenly hear knocking on your door. How do you try to identify the visitor?

You’re correct if you said 누구세요?

Q3: Your neighbor came to get your signature on the form that provides your consent to the renovations he’s going to start in his unit. After signing the form, what would you say to let your neighbor know that you are now aware of the situation as you hand back the form?

Yes, you can say, 알겠습니다. 여기요.

Q4: How do you answer a phone call in Korean:

Yes, the four-syllable phrase: 여보세요

Q5: You answer the phone and the caller greets you with your name, but you don’t recognize their voice. What do you say?

Correct. You can try to identify the caller with 실례지만 누구세요? or 실례지만 어디세요?

Q6: How can you ask for someone’s phone number, less directly than 전화번호 뭐예요?

Correct again if you said 전화번호 어떻게 되세요?

Great! You’re done with the quiz.

I hope everyone can find some time to practice the previously introduced expressions from the previous episodes between now and the next episode. Ok, that’s it for this episode. Until then, take care! 고맙습니다. 안녕히 계세요!