As far as I know, one of them means "a short while ago", the other "in a short time". Sometimes they are used interchangeably. I'm looking for an explanation of the two words, how they differ, and a few suitable example sentences.

I keep confusing the two. A mnemonic might help, too.

5 Answers 5


'방금' and '금방' have same hanja behind: 方今 vs 今方. Although, '방금' is more often used for past, and '금방' is more widely used for the future, they both can mean short time preceding, or following the current moment (often interchangeable).

(Interestingly, 今 means 'now', and 方 means 'direction', hence in the word 방금, the direction is left of now, and in 금방 it is pointing towards the right which is often associated with future.)

  • 2
    Your explanation with the Hanja is very interesting. Your last sentence seems to say the exact opposite though which makes it confusing. Did you mix up left and right in there? 方今 방금 (direction <- now) 今方 금방 (now -> direction)
    – 파울울
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 7:13

방금 should be used with the past tense or just a short while ago.

방금 뭐 했냐? (친구들이랑 with friends)

방금 뭐 하셨어요? (polite manner)

However, 방금 뭐 해요 doesn't make sense to a native Korean. 방금 뭐 했어? 방금 뭐 했어요? does make sense.

금방 (soon, shortly) should be used within the future sentence. For example,

금방 갈게. I will be there in a second.

I am not a right person to teach Korean in English, but I can point it out which parts are wrong and help you to understand.

  • Since I am not a native speaker, I want to ask if 방금 뭐 했나? "makes sense" to native Koreans.
    – user237
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 23:31
  • @SuperCoolHandsomeGelBoy Short answer: No. 방금 뭐 했나? doesn't make sense. If you want to speak "what did you do?" or "what are you just doing?", then, (방금) 뭐했니? 뭐했어? 뭐했냐? (very close friends only) or 뭐해? 뭐하냐? 뭐하니? does make sense.
    – Karl
    Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 15:10
  • 1
    As Korean language native speaker, I can understand if someone say "방금 뭐 했나?", and I'm pretty sure almost every native speaker do understand what you are trying to say.
    – wonhee
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 20:50
  • @woohee I think Karl means native speakers would not use the ending 나 usually, it doesn't mean it is wrong. What do you think?
    – user237
    Commented Oct 20, 2016 at 1:52
  • True. I'm sure that we understand what people trying to say as @wonhee comment, but another pretty sure that no Korean speaks like that.
    – Karl
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 16:55

They can both mean a time right before or right after the speaking moment, however the following meaning is usually adopted by native speakers.

방금: To describe a short time not long before the speaking time. Similar to the word 아까.

Ex: 방금 뭐 했어? -> What were you just doing?

금방: To describe a very short time not long after the speaking time. Future tense is thus usually used. Similar to the word 바로, but 바로 is immediate and without delay.

Ex: 금방 갈게요. -> I will go (in a second).

  • Thanks. One thing I noticed is that 방금 can be used with 전에. So I try to remember the combination "방금 전에", whereas "금방 전에" doesn't make any sense.
    – 파울울
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 4:50
  • Upvoted for noting that they're identical in adverbial usages by definition. 금방 for the slight past tense and 방금 for the slight future tense are seemingly getting a bit dated, but are still valid: “그녀는 약속 장소에 금방 도착했다.,” “한 개 남은 이마저 방금이라도 빠질 듯이 흔들흔들한다..” Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 5:56

If you check those words, they have same Chinese characters and pretty much have same meaning as described in the other answer. One thing can be different though will be "금방" can be also used as @Super Cool Handsome Gel Boy mentioned as

금방: To describe a very short time not long after the speaking time. Future tense is thus usually used. Similar to the word 바로, but 바로 is immediate and without delay.

Ex: 금방 갈게요. -> I will go (in a second).

If you say 금방 갈께요 then it means you'll be there in a second or you'll be leaving for that destination (whether home or school or wherever) shortly.

  • Thank you for your answer and welcome to the site. I have edited your post for grammar; please have a look at it and feel free to change it back if it doesn't match what you wanted to say.
    – user17915
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 22:09

방금 = noun, adverb : short time before

금방 = adverb : short time before, after short time

철수는 방금(noun)까지 (=방금(adverb)=금방(adverb)) 여기에 있었어.

Chulsoo was here a short time before.

철수가 금방 갈꺼야

Chulsoo will go in a short time.

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