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Telling Time in Korean | when to use Sino & Native Korean numbers

Updated: May 2


안녕하세요 여러분! 서이 임나다. Hello Everyone, I'm Zoey! 만나서 반가워요. Nice to meet you everyone! This is my first blog here at Korean Study Junkie and I'm really excited to bring to it what I can.

I love the Korean language and the country's culture along with everything it has to offer! Hopefully, I can do justice to this amazing idea of a website and bring on useful information for our readers! Are you visiting Korea soon? Are you a beginner at learning the language? Or did curiosity get the better of you? Even better, let it be all three! Whatever your reason is for coming here, you've come to the right place.

Telling the time in Korean may be one of the first things you could learn right after you get the hang of your numbers. It's a really important aspect because it's something we use in our everyday life and being able to communicate this would be a really helpful tool in your Korean language learning.

Fun fact : Koreans from the Joseon Dynasty used waterclocks, a clock that would be triggered by rolling balls to automatically mark the hour with the sound of a bell, gong or drum when water is poured through. A wooden puppets hand would be triggered to mark the hour with a playcard as well.

시간(Time) in Korean is written using a combination of both the two number systems used by Koreans. Sino Korean and Native Korean numbers.

Native Korean numbers (하나, 둘, 셋) are used to tell the hours and Sino Korean numbers(일, 이, 삼) are used to tell minutes and seconds.

The Korean Language uses counters for numerous things, likewise, when telling time, there are counters that need to be used in order to ensure it is read correctly.

  • Counter for Hours - 시

  • Counter for Mins - 분

Now that you know the basics let's write time shall we?

Here's an illustration of how we write time in Korean. The hours (In Native) would be written following its counter and then minutes (In Sino) with its counter as well.

Time can be written either with just the numbers or the splet-out version.

Examples :

1) 12시 25분 - 열두 이십오(12:25)

2) 4시 31분 - 네 삼십일 (4:31)

3) 9시 28분 - 아홉 이십팔 (9:28)

  • A small note - Normally when there are timings such as (10:30, 4:30, 12:30) the counter for minutes (분) changes to 반. Ex.열두시

Simple right? Don't worry if it isn't, I promise you'll get the hang of it after a little practice. Just make sure to be very familiar with your numbers and you are good to go!

Now, let's move on to how we can mention the 2 different times of the day in Korean! (AM and PM).

  • AM - 오전

  • PM - 오후

A little explanation to help you remember these terms easily.

The word 오 is translated to Noon and so the terms 오전(AM) and 오후(PM) are literally translated to Before noon and After noon.


1) 12시 25분 - 오후 열두 이십오(12:25pm)

Great! Now you can tell the time in full in Korean! Let's go show off what we've learned to all our friends!ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ

Let's say you want to measure the duration of something. For example, "The movie was an hour long." or "I have lunch in an hour."

  • The measure for hours in Korean is known as

  • The measure for minutes would be the same as its counter 분.


1) 10 hours - 열시간

2) 5 hours - 다섯시간

3) 15 minutes - 십오분

4) 30 minutes - 삼십분 (반 can only be used when there's an hour along with the minutes)

Well, we learned a lot of new vocab today didn't we? Here's a little list(with extra words) to help you keep track!

  • Time - 시

  • Time measurement - also 시간

  • AM - 오전 before noon

  • PM - 오후 after noon

  • Afternoon - 낮

  • Night - 밤

  • Morning - 아침

  • Now - 시금

  • To - 까지

  • From - 부터

Wooo! That was a long lesson, wasn't it? Hopefully, it explained time in Korean well enough for you to understand. You can ask questions if you didn't in the comments and

I'll try my best to reply to them!

As always, Like, Comment and Share if you like our content and want to support all our writers! It'll mean so much to us.



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