How to Tell Time in Korean

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Learning how to tell time in Korean is essential for navigating everyday situations, making plans, and understanding schedules. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the basics of telling time in Korean, including the vocabulary for hours and minutes, asking for the time, and using the 12-hour and 24-hour formats. By the end of this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to tell time confidently in Korean. 

Basic Vocabulary for Telling Time in Korean 

Before we dive into telling time in Korean, let’s learn some basic vocabulary. 

  • Hours in Korean: In Korean, the word for “hour” is “시” (shi). When telling time, the Sino-Korean number system is used to indicate the hour. 
  • Minutes in Korean: The word for “minute” is “분” (bun) in Korean. As with hours, the Sino-Korean number system is used to indicate the minutes. 

How to Tell Time in Korean: The 12-hour format 

To tell time in Korean using the 12-hour format, you’ll need to combine the words for hours and minutes with the appropriate numbers. 

  • Expressing “o’clock” in Korean: When expressing “o’clock,” simply place the Sino-Korean number for the hour followed by “시” (shi). 
  • Combining hours and minutes: To combine hours and minutes, use the Sino-Korean number for the hour, followed by “시” (shi), and then the Sino-Korean number for minutes, followed by “분” (bun). 

How to Ask for the Time in Korean 

To ask for the time in Korean, you can use the following phrases: 

  • 지금 몇 시예요? (jigeum myeot siyeyo?) – What time is it now? 
  • 몇 시에요? (myeot siyeyo?) – What’s the time? 

Practice using these phrases and listen to native speakers to become comfortable asking for the time in Korean. 

Telling Time in Korean: Half and Quarter Hours 

In Korean, “half” (반, ban) and “quarter” (사분, sabun) are used to express time more precisely. Learn how to use these terms in combination with hours and minutes to express times like “a 

quarter past six” or “half-past eight.” 

  • A quarter past: To say “a quarter past” an hour, use the Sino-Korean number for the hour, followed by “시” (shi), then “십오 분” (ship-o bun) for “fifteen minutes.” 
  • Half-past: To express “half-past,” use the Sino-Korean number for the hour, followed by “시” (shi), and then “반” (ban) for “half.” 


  • 6:15 – 여섯 시 십오 분 (yeoseot si ship-o bun) 
  • 8:30 – 여덟 시 반 (yeodeol si ban) 

Practice forming different times using these phrases to become more comfortable with telling time in Korean. 

Using the 24-hour format in Korean 

In some situations, you may need to use the 24-hour format in Korean. This format is often used for schedules, such as public transportation or official documents. To convert from the 12-hour format to the 24-hour format, simply add 12 to the hour if it is in the afternoon or evening. 


  • 2 PM – 14시 (sip-sa shi) 
  • 8 PM – 20시 (isip shi) 

Cultural Tips: Telling Time in Korean Contexts 

When telling time in Korean, be aware of the context and the people you’re speaking with. In more formal situations, you may need to use honorific language and the 24-hour format. In casual conversations, the 12-hour format is more common, and you can use informal language. Be prepared to adjust your language based on the situation. 

Practice Exercises: Telling Time in Korean 

Now that you have learned the basics of telling time in Korean, it’s time to put your skills to the test. Practice forming different times, asking for the time, and converting between 12-hour and 24-hour formats. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become with telling time in Korean. 

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs) 

Q1: How do I say “AM” and “PM” in Korean? 

A1: In Korean, “오전” (ojeon) is used for “AM” and “오후” (ohu) is used for “PM.” When telling time, you can add these terms before the hour to indicate whether it is morning or afternoon/evening. 

Q2: Is it common to use the 24-hour format in daily conversations in Korean? 

A2: In daily conversations, Koreans typically use the 12-hour format. However, the 24-hour format is commonly used in formal settings or when referring to schedules like public transportation or official documents. 

Q3: How do I say “quarter to” an hour in Korean? 

A3: To say “quarter to” an hour in Korean, you can use the Sino-Korean number for the next hour, followed by “시” (shi), and then subtract 15 minutes using “십오 분 전” (ship-o bun jeon). For example, 2:45 would be “세 시 십오 분 전” (se shi ship-o bun jeon). 

Q4: Do Koreans use analog or digital clocks more frequently? 

Both analog and digital clocks are used in Korea. Analog clocks can be found in public places like train stations, while digital clocks are more common in personal devices like smartphones and computers. 

Q5: How can I practice telling time in Korean effectively? 

A5: To practice telling time in Korean effectively, try incorporating it into your daily routine. Ask yourself what time it is in Korean throughout the day or practice forming different times using the vocabulary you’ve learned. You can also find resources like worksheets or online quizzes to test your skills. 

Q6: Are there any differences in telling time between North and South Korea? 

A6: While there may be some minor differences in vocabulary or pronunciation between North and South Korea, the basic concepts of telling time remain the same. Learning to tell time in Korean will enable you to understand and communicate time-related information in both countries. 

Wrapping Up 

In learning how to tell and ask for time in Korean, we’ve taken a crucial step in our linguistic journey. With these phrases at your disposal, you’ll be able to navigate appointments, schedules, and daily conversations more efficiently. Remember, “지금 몇 시입니까?” and “지금 몇 시야?” are your go-to phrases for asking the time in formal and informal settings, respectively. 

Take note of the Korean numbers for the hours and “분” (bun) for minutes, and you’re well-equipped to tell the time. The additions of “오전” (ojeon) for AM and “오후” (ohu) for PM help specify the time of day. 

Just like the steady ticking of a clock, language learning is an ongoing process. As you continue to immerse yourself in the language, you’ll find that these phrases and concepts become second nature to you. So, keep practicing, stay curious, and watch your Korean language skills blossom over time. 행운을 빕니다 (Haeng-un-eul bibnida) – Good luck!