Goodbye in Korean
In this lesson you will learn how to say “Goodbye” in Korean. This word is probably one of the first words anyone who is trying to pick up a new language will learn. In Korean, there are a few ways in which you can say it and which phrase you want to use will depend on the situation you are in. For example, the word you use when someone else is leaving is different from the phrase you would use when you are leaving. Furthermore, the way you say it is different when you’re talking with your friends compared to when you are talking to someone you don’t really know that well. Does this sound confusing? Don’t worry! As a beginner, you really only need to know two phrases to never get it wrong. So let’s get right on it!
In Hangul: 안녕히 가세요
(= Goodbye (the other person is leaving))
In Hangul: 안녕히 계세요
(= Goodbye (you are the person leaving))
These two phrases are in the polite form, meaning you will mostly use them with:
- Who are older than you
- People of higher status
- When you don’t know which phrase to use
If you have learned how to say “hello” in Korean, you might notice that these phrases contain the word annyeong (안녕). This means “peace”, and literally, annyeonghi kaseyo (안녕히 가세요) translates to “go in peace” while annyeonghi kyeseyo (안녕히 계세요) translates to “stay in peace”. While this may sound weird, the practical meaning of these phrases is still “goodbye”.
The good thing about the polite form is that you are always safe to use it without running the risk of coming off as rude or impolite. In other words, if you are unsure about the different politeness and formality levels (which are often a bit confusing to non-Koreans, so you are not alone, don’t worry! ^^), you can always just use these two expressions and you will be fine.
Also, if you can’t remember which phrase to use in which situation, you can just say one of them while mumbling a bit. Somewhat ironically, it may even make you sound more natural since Koreans usually don’t pronounce every syllable in these words. Just remember to pronounce seyo (세요) clearly at the end and people will know what you are trying to say.
As previously described, these are the polite ways to say “goodbye” in Korean, and as such, not what you would normally use with your close friends. In those cases you can just simply say:
In Hangul: 안녕
You can use this word regardless of whether you are the person leaving or if the other person is leaving. Again, it is an informal and casual expressions so you should only use it with:
- Close friends
- People who are younger than you
Do not use it when talking to people older than you or strangers. If you accidentally do, don’t worry. Koreans are usually understanding and won’t expect you to know this stuff. With that said, we recommend you to try to use the correct forms if you can.
Another word you can use with your friends is:
In Hangul: 잘 가
jal ga (잘 가), like all the other words we have learned in this lesson, will sound unnatural to an English speaker when translated literally. It means “go well” or “leave well”, but again, it is used to say “goodbye”. As you might expect, you would use this when the other person is leaving (or if you are both leaving). If the other person is older than you, you can add the suffix “yo” (요) to make it more polite/casual, like this:
In Hangul: 잘 가요
This phrase is similar to annyeonghi kaseyo (안녕히 가세요) which we learned above, but it has a more casual nuance to it. It has exactly the same meaning as jal ga (잘 가), but you would use this with people who are older than you.
Finally, for formal situations, we take the phrases we first learned in this lesson and conjugate them a bit:
In Hangul: 안녕히 가십시오
(the other person is leaving)
In Hangul: 안녕히 계십시오
(you are the person leaving)
Since these are formal expressions, you will encounter them in formal situations. As a beginner, you would probably not use them very often, but you might still want to know them just in case you find yourself in a situation where formality is required. Furthermore, you might hear people say this to you from time to time, so now you would know exactly what they mean!
This concludes our lesson on how to say “goodbye” in Korean. If you are overwhelmed with all of these expressions, just memorize the first two phrases and you will never be wrong or risk offending someone. For more common Korean phrases and expressions, please check out our Everyday Korean Archive. If you found this lesson useful, you might want to consider sharing it with your friends or giving it like! If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below and we will do our best to help you out.