In English, you can answer the questions, “Are you Korean?” and “Aren’t you Korean?” in the same way. You can just say “No.”
But in Korean, you have to pay attention to whether the question is worded in the positive or negative. If it’s negative, your answer will be the opposite of what you’re used to in English. That’s because the Korean words “네 [ne] /아니요 [aniyo]” contain the meaning “What you said is correct/incorrect.”
In other words, if the question is negative, you use the Korean word “네” for yes to agree with the negativeness, and “아니요” for no to disagree with the negativeness.
Yes and no questions in the positive form are exactly the same as in English.
If a negative question is asked, the reply is the opposite of English.
I totally understand this grammar point is somewhat confusing for you guys.
So, let me give you a simple tip!
If any questions are asked, it’s perfectly fine for you to skip the words “네/아니요” and just say the following sentences. In other words, there is no need to say 네/아니요 when answering questions in Korean language.
- Jiseon Park. Negative Yes/No Question-Answer Sequences in Conversation: Grammar, Action, and Sequence Organization. PhD diss. UCLA. 2008.
- Korean.arts.ubc.ca. Answering Negative Questions. 2015. Available at: http://www.korean.arts.ubc.ca/b_tb/tb_06/L6-2-7.htm. Accessed August 27, 2015.