How to Tell Time in Korean


지금 몇시예요?

If you think you can answer that, you don't need to waste five minutes reading this. Instead, tell us the time you bump into here and the country you are from in the comment section. If possible, do not write the numbers in figures but have them spelled out.

If you still don't know how to tell time in Korean, stay a little bit more. It's not that hard I swear. Telling time in Korean requires the familiarization of at least 12 Pure-Korean numbers and fifty-nine Sino-Korean numbers. The former is used for the hour-part and the latter is used for the minute-part.

The twelve Pure-Korean numbers are...

하나다섯여섯일곱여덟아홉열하나, and 열둘.

They are followed by  which is simply the counter for hour in Korean...

한시둘시세시네시다섯시여섯시일곱시여덟시아홉시열시열한시, and 열두시.

As you may notice, the first four numbers including eleven and twelve evolve a little in actual use. If you ask why, perhaps it's the languages' natural way to ease pronunciation.

The Sino-Korean numbers are...

, and 

I assume you already know how to read numbers beyond 10. If not, please let me know in the comment section. Similarly, we also use the counter for "minute" which is  to complete the pattern.

일분십분이십사분삼십구분오십삼분, etc.

Can we use figures instead of the spelled-out forms? Of course. In fact, that's how it is done. The above illustration is a pronunciation guide only. Now, let's merge the two parts together.

It’s  5:15. - 5 15분이에요. / pr. [다섯시 십오분]
It’s 12:36. - 12 36분이에요. / pr. [열두시 삼십육분]
It’s 8:45. - 8 45분이에요. / pr. [여덟시 사십오분]

To emphasize that it's the time "now", we can add the word "지금" at the beginning as in "지금 5 15분이에요". When the time is sharp, we simply take the minute-part out.

It’s six o’clock. - 6 시예요. / pr. [여섯시]
It’s one o’clock. - 1시에요. / pr. [ ]
It’s 10 o’clock. - 10시예요. / pr. [열시]


Lastly, when the time is "half past" something, we use  instead of 삼십.

It’s 5:30. - 5시반이에요. / pr. [다섯시반]  
It’s 2:30. - 2시반이에요. / pr. [두시반]
Its's 10:30. - 10시반이에요. / pr. [열시반]