How to Read Phone Numbers in Korean

So I was listening to a K-pop song, 암행어사 or “Justice” by C-CLOWN (disbanded on Oct 5 last year, a tragedy for fans, and by “fans” I mean me), and then Ray sang a line which went like this:

♪팔팔에하나공 (8810) 팔육에하나오 (8615)

Lyrics on ALSong app

K-pop Lyrics on ALSong app – English version

From an interview on Arirang Radio, I knew that when the group was promoting the single, fans could call that number to tell C-CLOWN members about their life problems and ask for advice.

As a dedicated Korean learner (haha, not true), I wondered to myself, isn’t “6” there supposed to be “륙” because it’s not the first number? Isn’t there a rule that says that when you read a phone number, if 6 comes as the first number, you read it “육”, but if it comes after another number, you read it “륙”? Do I remember it wrong? I should know this, it’s pretty basic.
So I checked one of basic level Korean textbooks I had: Arirang Korean Basics 1, page 149 about “Reading Phone Numbers”.

Arirang Korean 1

Arirang Korean Basics 1

It said…

In a series of numbers, “6” is pronounced [육] when it is the first syllable, [륙] when it follows a vowel or ‘ㄹ’, [뉵] when it follows ‘ㅁ’, and when it follows a ‘십/10’, the two are pronounced [심뉵].


In 86 팔육, ‘ㄹ’ comes before 6, so I guess 6 should be pronounced [륙]. So I think it’s written 육 but actually read as [륙]. Right? ← Who am I asking?

The book also mentions there are 2 ways of reading phone numbers. For example, 2345-6789 can be read as “이삼사오의 육칠팔구” (the most common way) or “이천삼백사십오 국의 육천칠백팔십구”.

According to the book, the dash (-) between numbers can be written as “의” but pronounced as [에]. And for mobile phones, people generally omit the ‘의’ and just say the numbers. And 0 in phone numbers is pronounced [공].

And as I searched the internet about how to read phone numbers in Korean, I learned that for phone numbers, Korean natives tend to read 1 as “하나”, and 2 as “둘”, just like the C-CLOWN’s song lyrics! Because in the Arirang textbook, it only mentions about 일, 이, 삼, etc. A dash can be read as [다시]. And that ‘2001’, if comes as the last 4 digits, can be read as 이천일. Wow.
Source: TOPIK Ⅱ 合格★ そして、韓国語の電話番号の読み方 (in Japanese).

Interesting. I don’t know whether I can remember all that information but there will be next time when I revisit it again.

Now I need to watch a live version of the song 암행어사. Found it.

By the way, the word 암행어사 doesn’t mean ‘justice’, Rome explained it as ‘the FBI in Joseon age’. Haha. ###

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