Addressing People at the Office: Titles

In Korea titles are very important in showing respect to someone with a higher position than you. Therefore, if someone has a title and you know it, you must use it. For example, if someone is a manager, you will call them ‘manager nim’, even if they are not your manager. You will notice that that these titles have ‘nim’ at the end of them, which is used to show respect to seniors.

Other titles for superiors include:
1)  스미스 교수님                   Professor Smith
     Smith gyo-su-nim
2)  김 사장님                           Company President Kim
     Kim sa-jang-nim

1)  박 선생님 앉으세요.                                Mr. Park, please have a seat.
     Park Seon-saeng-nim an-jeu-se-yo.
2)  (A police officer addressing a well-dressed older man.)
     선생님, 저쪽으로 가십시오.                   Sir, please move over there.
     Seonsaengnim, jeojjogeuro gasipsio.

When people have no title and are of equal or lower status than you, you can use their full name + 씨(ssi). For example, if the lowest person in the office is called Yeong-Jun Kim, you would refer to them as ‘Kim Yeong-Jun ssi’. It is rude however to use ‘ssi’, if you are a junior to the person you are addressing.

The title ‘ssi’ should also be used after someone’s given name where there is equal status, but it is offensive to address anyone by ‘their surname and 씨(ssi)’, such as ‘김 씨(Kim ssi)’, so be careful! It is also not used between people in the same gender, so it is best to avoid this title at this stage!

***If there's any confusion, don't hesitate to ask me.

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