A Step-by-Step Guide to Korean Email Etiquette to Impress Your Reader

Writing an email in Korean the first time feels like taking the training wheels off.

You have to get the grammar right, while understanding Korean cultural norms.

No need to worry! This guide will show you exactly how to write an email in Korean.

It covers both formal and casual levels of speech with a handy template at the end.

I learned email etiquette at my first job like most Koreans.

Lingua Asia Korean Email Etiquette to Wow Your Reader

Quick Notes

  • Writing a Korean email can be intimidating at first.
  • There are many unwritten rules, including ways to write casual and business emails.
  • Even though Korean business culture is a bit formal, you might encounter some interesting email addresses.
  • It’s not uncommon to see ones like “skyblue23”, or “duckdream84”. Donโ€™t read too much into them. They donโ€™t usually mean what you think they do.
  • Emoticons like ^^ or ๐Ÿ™‚ are sometimes used in emails.
Korean email

Korean email etiquette means writing according to social norms including proper introductions and acknowledgement of the recipient’s position and title.

Lingua Asia_Seoul_Yeouido_Statue of King Sejong_2021

More about Living in South Korea as an Expat

Useful terms

  • ๋ณด๋‚ด๋Š” ์‚ฌ๋žŒ or ๋ฐœ์‹ ์ž – Sender
  • ๋ฐ›๋Š” ์‚ฌ๋žŒ or ์ˆ˜์‹ ์ž โ€“ Receiver/Recipient
  • ์ฐธ์กฐ – CC
  • ์ˆจ์€ ์ฐธ์กฐ – BCC
  • ์ œ๋ชฉ – Subject
  • ํŒŒ์ผ์ฒจ๋ถ€ – Email attachment
  • ๋ฏธ๋ฆฌ๋ณด๊ธฐ – Preview
  • ํšŒ์‹  – Reply
  • ์ „๋‹ฌ – Forward
  • ๋ณด๋‚ด๊ธฐ – Send
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Step 1. Relax

The recipient will know you arenโ€™t Korean (your name will give it away), so youโ€™ll get a lot of leeway.

Weโ€™ll cover the entire email writing process, but donโ€™t feel bad if you miss something. Theyโ€™ll understand.

Step 2. Who are they to you

Whatโ€™s your relationship to the person?

A business, client, or work relationship requires more formality.

A friend, significant other or family member will allow for a more casual tone. (Koreans donโ€™t really email each other unless itโ€™s for work. They use KakaoTalk messenger for personal use.)

More about Korean Texting Etiquette

This is important to figure out in the very beginning, because it will decide which level of speech to use in the entire email.

Step 3. Be upfront

Koreans tend to screen emails by subject.

So itโ€™s important to state your company name and purpose in the subject.

Make sure to format it properly, so it looks important and gets read.

[Your Company Name] Purpose of Email์˜ ๊ฑด

Step 4. Titles matter

Addressing Korean names in an email must be done correctly. Find out the recipientโ€™s title and write ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š” (annyeonghaseyo or hello) in the first line of email.

Recipientโ€™s Name + Title๋‹˜ ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”,

If youโ€™re not sure of the title, use ๋‹ด๋‹น์ž instead.

๋‹ด๋‹น์ž (damdangja) means person in charge, but is used to substitute a specific title in Korean.

Recipientโ€™s Name ๋‹ด๋‹น์ž๋‹˜ ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”,

If you want to skip mentioning the recipientโ€™s name, especially in the first email, you can simply say ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”, in the beginning.


Step 5. Start with the end

Unlike emails in English, Korean emails start out by introducing the sender.

This is true even if you know the person.

Your Company Name + Your Name์ž…๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

Your Company Name + Your Team + Your Name์ž…๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

Step 6. Whatโ€™s the point?

Mention your intention for writing the email next.

Purpose of Email์„ ์œ„ํ•ด ๋ฉ”์ผ ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. (Iโ€™m emailing to ____.)

Purpose of Email ์š”์ฒญ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. (Iโ€™d like to request _____.)

Purpose of Email ํ™•์ธ ๋ถ€ํƒ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. (Please check ___.)

Step 7. Attachments

Like in English, itโ€™s important to mention if youโ€™ve attached a file.

์ฒจ๋ถ€ํŒŒ์ผ ํ™•์ธ ๋ถ€ํƒ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. (Please find the attached file.)

Step 8. Be polite

If you want to be extra courteous, you can add the following in your email.

๋ฌธ์˜์‚ฌํ•ญ ์žˆ์œผ์‹œ๋ฉด ์–ธ์ œ๋“ ์ง€ ์—ฐ๋ฝ ๋ถ€ํƒ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. (Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.)

Step 9. End on a positive note

Koreans are very concerned with health and weather, so itโ€™s a good idea to mention them at the end.

For example,

์Œ€์Œ€ํ•œ ๋‚ ์”จ์— ๊ฐ๊ธฐ ์กฐ์‹ฌํ•˜์„ธ์š”. (Donโ€™t catch a cold in the chilly weather.)

๋ฏธ์„ธ๋จผ์ง€ ์กฐ์‹ฌํ•˜์„ธ์š”. (Watch out for fine dust.)

์ฆ๊ฑฐ์šด ์ฃผ๋ง ๋ณด๋‚ด์„ธ์š”. (Have a nice weekend.)

์˜ค๋Š˜๋„ ์ข‹์€ ํ•˜๋ฃจ ๋ณด๋‚ด์„ธ์š”. (Have a nice day.)

์ฆ๊ฑฐ์šด ์ ์‹ฌ์‹œ๊ฐ„ ๋˜์„ธ์š”. (Enjoy your lunch.)

Step 10. Be thankful

Make sure to thank the recipient.

A simple ๊ฐ์‚ฌํ•ฉ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. (Thank you. or Sincerely,) will do.


Step 11. Sign off right

There are two ways to end your email: ๋“œ๋ฆผ and ์˜ฌ๋ฆผ.

๋“œ๋ฆผ means โ€œgivingโ€ as in “from”.

Itโ€™s a bit more casual, but suitable for most interactions.

์˜ฌ๋ฆผ means โ€œpresentingโ€ as in “from”, but in a polite way.

Itโ€™s more formal and is best used for addressing older people in a higher position.

๋“œ๋ฆผ: For colleagues, clients, acquaintances

์˜ฌ๋ฆผ: For bosses, president, parents, grandparents, teachers

Your Name ๋“œ๋ฆผ

Korean Email Template

Recipientโ€™s Name + Title๋‹˜ ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”,

Your Company Name + Your Name์ž…๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

Purpose of Email์„ ์œ„ํ•ด ๋ฉ”์ผ ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

์ฒจ๋ถ€ํŒŒ์ผ ํ™•์ธ ๋ถ€ํƒ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

๋ฌธ์˜์‚ฌํ•ญ ์žˆ์œผ์‹œ๋ฉด ์–ธ์ œ๋“ ์ง€ ์—ฐ๋ฝ ๋ถ€ํƒ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

์˜ค๋Š˜๋„ ์ข‹์€ ํ•˜๋ฃจ ๋ณด๋‚ด์„ธ์š”.


Your Name ๋“œ๋ฆผ


Which email host do Koreans use?

Naver, Daum, and Gmail are the most common for personal use in that order.

A few years ago, Gmail wasn’t an option on most government website forms.

Now it’s slowly gaining popularity.

Most companies use their own email host.

Which emoticons do Koreans use in emails?

Koreans use emoticons to make formal emails a bit softer.

^^ is a common smiley face symbol in Korea. But, it’s not used in business emails, because it looks unprofessional.

For business emails, you can use “:)” once. This is only in cases where you have some rapport with the recipient.

For example, a long term client or coworker who you’re on friendly terms with would be fine.

More about Getting a Job in South Korea

However, it’s not advisable to use emoticons in emails to your boss or managers. Decorum is very important in the Korean business environment.

How to address Korean names in an email?

If you’re on friendly terms and use ๋ฐ˜๋ง in person, writing their name is fine.

For everyone else, use name + title + ๋‹˜.

How to sign an email in Korean?

  1. To your superior or boss: Your name + ์˜ฌ๋ฆผ or Your name + ๋“œ๋ฆผ
  2. To your colleague: Your name + ๋“œ๋ฆผ
  3. To your subordinates: Your name + ์”€ or Your name + ๊ฐ€
  4. To a company or organization: Your company name + Title + Name + ์˜ฌ๋ฆผ or ๋“œ๋ฆผ [For example, OO ์ฃผ์‹ํšŒ์‚ฌ ์‚ฌ์žฅ OOO ์˜ฌ๋ฆผ]

How to address an email to a professor or teacher in Korean?

The best way to address a professor in Korean is to use name + ๊ต์ˆ˜๋‹˜.

If you’re writing in English, you can use Professor/Dr.+ last name.

More about teaching in Korea

How to address an email to a Korean businessman/businesswoman?

The best way to address a businessman/businesswoman in Korean is to use name + title + ๋‹˜.

If you’re writing in English, you can use Mr./Mrs.+ last name.

How to say “you are expecting an email reply” in Korean?

The most polite way is to write, ์ด๋ฉ”์ผ๋กœ ํšŒ์‹  ๋ถ€ํƒ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

How do you say “I will send you an email” in Korean?

The ideal way is to write, ์ด๋ฉ”์ผ ๋ณด๋‚ด๋“œ๋ฆฌ๊ฒ ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

How to say “attached in email” in Korean?

The most polite way is to write, ์ฒจ๋ถ€ํŒŒ์ผ ํ™•์ธ ๋ถ€ํƒ๋“œ๋ฆฝ๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

How long does it take for a Korean email to reach America?

Korean internet speed is fast, so it’ll take about the same amount of time as it does within the U.S.

How to email the North Korean leader?

While the dear leader may not have a personal email address, you can try to contact him through the official North Korean government website. This site is actually blocked in South Korea.

Did we miss anything?

Korean email etiquette is easy if you understand the formula.

Always stick to it for the best results, unless youโ€™re very comfortable with Korean.

I spent a lot of time during my first job out of university learning email etiquette.

Itโ€™s very important if you want to get ahead in Korea.

Feel free to ask questions below about anything we missed.

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11 thoughts on “A Step-by-Step Guide to Korean Email Etiquette to Impress Your Reader”

    • Hi Hayley,

      You can write the full name before the title in most cases. If you’re on very friendly terms, you can opt for just the surname or the first name plus title.

  1. That was very helpful! But I have one more question. Can I use this formula when writing an email to a university faculty to inquire about some further information regarding their Master degree course? And is there a way to address the general faculty and staff when the given email address of the department doesnโ€™t reveal any name in particular?

    • Hi Sina,
      I’m glad to hear it!
      If you’re directly emailing the professor, you can use “NAME ๊ต์ˆ˜๋‹˜”.
      If you address a department staff member without a name, you can either omit that part and start with “์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”,” or “๋‹ด๋‹น์ž๋‹˜ ์•ˆ๋…•ํ•˜์„ธ์š”,”.
      Let me know if you have any more questions.

  2. Minjung, hello

    I am hoping that — as a fellow journalist and communicator — you will be able to help my grandson, who is a very good ex-Watford U19 footballer, who want to play in Asia.

    Leo Lawless’s most favoured countries — because their style of football and commitment to technically good football — is South Korean and Japan.

    He is unusual in being both a goal-scorer and and creator of goals of many goals (known in the profession as Assists).He is currently playing in France

    He has learnt so much from what you have written about composing emails. But he has run into a brick wall: several clubs do not publish their email addresses on their websites.

    He doesn’t need personal emails of coaches. Just those that go into the clubs management.

    Without them, all the well-crafted emails in the world are wasted, and potentially both clubs and the likes of Leo are losing out on great opportunities.

    Did you know where such club-by-club email lists are available? You help would be gratefully received.

    With kind regards (and please don’t get aught out in the rain)

    John Lawless

    • Hello John,
      Thank you for asking!
      I couldnโ€™t find club-by-club email lists, but K League website seems to be a good place to start.
      I think your grandson can contact K League 1 clubs first (the aforementioned website has links to each club at the top). Most of them publish their phone numbers or social media accounts at the bottom, not email addresses.
      Ones with emails I found are: Ulsan Hyundai Football Club (uhfc@uhfc.co.kr), Incheon United (incheonutd@incheonutd.com) and Gangwon FC (gangwonfc@gangwon-fc.com).
      Best of luck to you and your grandson Leo!


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