In Western cultures: saying ‘I love you’ to someone immediately after meeting them is like swearing at a children’s birthday party.
It’ll probably get you this look…
In contrast: the Korean locals are romantics. It’s not unheard of for someone to drop the ‘L-Bomb’ after just 2 of 3 dates. Yes… really!
Fascinating cultural differences like this are worth bearing in mind when learning Korean.
Perhaps it’s the romantic K-Dramas on TV, the sensual food, or beautiful beaches and mountains. Maybe it’s the locals’ love of a blind date (소개팅).
Whatever the reason: Korea has caught the love bug. Forget the ‘three days rule’: you are expected to text someone right after your date if you like them!
Fun fact. Did you know Korean couples often get each other couple rings 커플링 after 100 days together!? Cute right?
Make sure to not to confuse these with buying a wedding ring 결혼반지 to avoid a longer commitment than you signed up for.
The art of saying I love you is more about how you say it, not when. Because in Korean culture, the language you use for many words and phrases depends on your relationship with the person you’re speaking to: their age, social status and how well you know them.
Got someone on your mind? Or just need to tell your latest round of Korean fried chicken and beer (chimaek 치맥) how you feel? Either way, take note of these phrases.
How to say 'love' in Korean = 사랑 (sarang) (noun)
To fall in love (verb) = 사랑에 빠지다
사랑해 (saranghae) = I love you (casual)
Spoken between lovers and friends. Best used with people you are really close with and who are the same age or younger than you!
사랑행 (saranghaeng) = I love you (cute, casual)
사랑해용 (saranghaeyong) = I love you (more polite)
Fun fact: the addedㅇunder 해 brings that extra romantic feeling. Can you see it? This is a slightly politer version. Try it out with your parents.
Female to older male = 오빠 사랑해요 (oppa saranghaeyo)
Male to older female = 누나 사랑해요 (una saranghaeyo)
사랑합니다 (sarang-hamnida) = I love you (formal)
The most formal I love you. Use this with someone older who has more social status. Perhaps your grandparents. You may hear it used during a speech or announcement.
Sensing a pattern here? From 사랑해 (saranghae) – we’ve added 요 to make it polite and 니다 to make it formal.
나도 사랑해 (nado saranghae) = I love you too!
Feeling the love?
The locals let their feelings out in Korea! Go on… try speaking this:
정말 많이 사랑해 (jeongmal mani saranghae) = I love you so much (casual)
내 사랑 (nae sarang) = my love
Getting a little complicated? Love was never supposed to be easy…
나는 다른 사람을 사랑하고 있어요 = I love someone else
Disclaimer: you’ll be saying this to all the other apps in your phone when you start using our app’s Korean courses. Just saying. 😉
If you’re a K-Drama fan... or soon to be… you’ll hear ‘saranghae’사랑해 (casual: I love you) spoken a lot during romantic dramas like Romance is a Bonus Book, Touch Your Heart and My First First Love.
If you’re a K-Pop fan. Especially if you’re part of the global fandom for boyband BTS, you’ll be making ‘I love you’ a priority. People’s obsession for BTS and other K-Pop bands is driving them to learn Korean!
Keen to tone it down a bit? That’s cool. Here are a few different options to express your affection in Korean.
Can’t keep your feelings for someone down but you’d rather not say I love you?
많이 좋아해 (mani joahae) = I like you a lot
좋아해 (joahae) = I like you (casual)
좋아해요 (joahaeyo) = I like you (polite)
좋아합니다 (joahamnida) = I like you (formal)
Say these to the friends, girlfriends, or boyfriends you make speaking in Korea! Click here to learn more useful phrases you’ll use in real life. 👀
Feeling romantic? Here are two more for the road.
만나고 싶어 (mannago sipeo) = I want to see you
너 썸 타는 사람 있어? = do you have something going on with anyone?
Can’t keep someone off your mind?
I miss you = 보고 싶어 (bogo sipeo)
I miss you so much = 너무 보고 싶어 (neomu bogo sipeo)
Woaahhh calm down. You’re doing so well on your Korean learning journey. But just in case you need to let out some anger… here you go.
Believe it or not. There’s even levels of formality for this!
싫어해 (sileohae) = I hate you (informal: friends or youngers)
싫어해요 (sileohaeyo) = I hate you (politer: older or not particularly close people)
싫어합니다 (sileohamnida) = I hate you (formal: speeches, interviews, or presentations)
So there you have it. These are the best ways to express your love or liking of someone in Korean. In different situations! We’d love to hear from you: so try these out and tweet us @Memrise to let us know how you’re getting on?
You CAN and WILL learn Korean. Start learning super useful words & phrases to speak with Korean native speakers right… wait for it… NOW. Click below.