I'm going over to Korea to study in a few months. I'm going to be staying in Busan but I heard that they have a local dialect (satoori).

I'm just a beginner. I'm going to be attending a language school but I will mingle with the locals and that would probably affect my Korean. Should I worry about not learning 'standard' Korean? Will this hurt me later down the road when I look for work in Seoul?

2 Answers 2


No, you don't have to worry about the Busan dialect. Korea is a relatively small country and its dialects are not too difficult to understand.

The Busan dialect is just a little different from standard Korean as it is tonal and people in Busan can't pronounce some vowels, notably 'oe' and 'wa', and the consonant 'ㅆ', to name a few. For example, they pronounce 쌀 (rice) as 살 (human or animal flesh) as it is difficult (almost impossible) for them to pronounce ㅆ.

Many Busan people, especially young people, can speak standard Korean. The most important thing is asking them to speak as much standard Korean as possible and slow down when they speak as it sounds like they are signing when they speak fast. If they speak their dialect slowly, it won't be that difficult for you to understand them.

It will be very helpful to try to watch news programs and TV shows as much as possible.

The linked Wikipedia article on Gyongsang dialect has some information about characteristics of the Gyungsang (where Busan is located) dialect.


Honestly, I think you may end up with the best of both worlds.

When I lived in Korea, I mainly lived in Seoul and Kangwon-Do (춘천, 원주). But I always wished that I had been able to pick up on more of the southern dialects. By going to Pusan, you have a chance to do this. Since you are going to a language school, you should be fine in learning 표준어 (standard speech). But you also get the flavor of learning some dialect.

I should also add that Pusan is of course a rather large city. Not everyone there is even from Pusan (or 경상도 in general). You should get a decent mixture of dialect there. It is a little bit like if you lived in Atlanta, Georgia in the US. Not everyone there speaks like a southerner.

My guess is that you will be just fine learning Korean in Pusan, then looking for a job in Seoul. Lean more heavily on what you learn in the language school for formal settings, but have fun with learning the 사투리 as well.

If you are interested, you can look up a man by the name of Robert Holley (Korean name 하일). He is an American who has learned the Pusan dialect, yet still manages to be very successful nationwide. (I heard him on the radio once and thought he was native Pusan)

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