Shopping in a Korean Bookstore - Useful Phrases and Korean Language Tips

Shopping in a Korean Bookstore - Useful Phrases and Korean Language Tips

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How to Shop In a Korean Bookstore

In the center of Korean Town, New York City, there is a Korean bookstore called 고려 서적 (Koryo Books).  Since the 1970s, this place has provided Koreans with a variety of books and media items such as dramas, movies, music, CDs etc.  Due to the limited capacity, many customers often find that the materials they are looking for are not in stock, thereby, the store offers an option to place an order on site and pick it up in a few days.  Those who are interested in Korean culture will find this small bookstore a good resource for their learning.  Having said that, I would like to introduce a few expressions you all can utilize when shopping in a Korean bookstore.

Let’s begin with a hypothetical situation that you are in the bookstore with a specific item in mind.

Dialog 1
English (You): Do you have a Korean dictionary?
Korean (You): 한국어 사전 있어요?
English (Clerk): Yes, I do.
Korean (Clerk): 네, 있어요.
1) When asking if someone has an item (Noun),  N 있어요?  is the sentence to useSee more examples are below:
  •  시계 있어요?  Do you have a watch?
  • 있어요? Do you have a book?

2)      In the above conversation, the clerk confirms the availability of the item by saying , 있어요

Can you guess how the clerk would respond if the item is not available?


The answer is 아니요, 없어요, which means No, I do not have.

  • , 있어요 -  Yes, I do have an item in question
  • 아니요, 없어요 - No, I do not have an item in question

You are interested in purchasing the Korean dictionary you chose and want to ask about the price:

Dialog 2
English (You): How much is this?
Korean (You): 이거는 얼마예요?
English (Clerk): That is 2000 won.
Korean (Clerk): 그거는 이천원 입니다.

1)      Did you notice words ‘이거’ and ‘그거’  used to point at the dictionary? Grammatically, ‘이거’ is correct to use when the item is closer to the speaker, which was done by you in the conversation above.  And ‘그거’ is adequate to employ when the item is closer to the listener, which the clerk did.

2)      얼마예요? is most commonly used to inquire about prices.  This can be interchangeable with 얼마입니까? in the same degree of politeness.

3)       ‘  is the Korean monetary unit and pronounced as Won.  You can simply put a number value before 원 to form the pricing.  For example,

  • 3000 won is 삼천원
  • 4000 won is 사천원

 Now, you begin to wonder if the bookstore has a DVD for your favorite Korean drama called Full House.  We will assume that the store does not have it and the clerk explains that you can place an order and pick it up in 3 days.  This may sound complicated but the following phrases can be quite useful especially at 고려서적 (Koryo Books).

Dialog 3
English (You): Do you have a DVD for Full House?
Korean (You): 풀 하우스 드라마 DVD 있어요?
English (Clerk): No, I don’t.  You can order it at the store and pick it up in 3 days.
Korean (Clerk): 아니요, 없어요.  서점에서 주문하고 3일후 찾아 가세요.
English (You):  I will do that.
Korean (You): 주문해 주세요.

1) Two sentences - 서점에서 주문하다 & 3일후에 찾아가다 - are combined. Let me break it down for you.

  • In the first sentence,서점에서 means at the bookstore.  The particle ‘에서’ is used to indicate the place where the action of the verb takes place.  You can add the name of a place in front of the particle, for instance, 병원에서 at the hospital and 교회에서  at the church.  Further, 주문하고 is the action of placing an order and the basic form of the verb is 주문하다.
  • In the second sentence, 3일후 implies in 3 days and 찾아 가다 is the action of picking up the DVD.  Please keep in mind that the action verb 찾아 가다 is modified to a more polite form 찾아 가세요 considering the situation that the clerk is explaining to the customer.
  • To link two separate sentences, a connector ‘하고’ is inserted in between two verbs. Let me show more examples.  The formula is Verb 1 하고 Verb 2:
    • 주문하다 (to place an order) + 찾아 가다 (to pick up an item) = 주문하고 찾아가다 (placing an order and picking up an item)
    • 노래하다 (to sing) + 춤추다 (to dance) = 노래하고 춤추다 (singing and dancing)
    • 숙제하다 ( to do homework) + 빨래하다 (to do laundry) = 숙제하고 빨래하다 (doing homework and doing laundry)

Finally, you are determined to buy the Korean dictionary at 2000 won and also pay for the DVD at 2000 won (I made up the price of the DVD)

Dialog 4
English (You): How much is it all together?
Korean (You): 모두 얼마예요?
English (Clerk): It is 4000 won
Korean (Clerk): 사천원 입니다.


1)모두 얼마예요? is frequently used to ask a total price of a multiple products you purchase. One more, 모두 얼마입니까?, is an alternative term that delivers the same level of politeness.

Did you pay the bill already? Then you may say 감사합니다, meaning Thank You, and exit the bookstore.

Thank you for reading this article about how to shop in a store. We hope that you continue to learn the Korean language either through other resources on our website, taking a class for learning Korean, or just continuing to study yourself.  Stay tuned for further articles on Korean!


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