“I Love You” in Korean – a How-to Guide
Whether you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship at N Seoul Tower’s Locks of Love, express your love for your partner, or your love for your favorite K-pop group, here is your guide to expressing love in the Korean language.
If you’ve watched an episode of a Korean drama or listened to a K-pop song, you’ve probably come across the word ‘사랑’, which means love. Love, romance, and love stories of all kinds sure are popular in Korea. However, using the language in the right way to express your love can be a little tricky.
First, let’s take a look at the word itself to discover how it should be pronounced. 사랑 is made up of two-syllables, ‘sa’ and ‘rang’.
‘Sa’ is pronounced like the ‘sa’ at the end of ‘Medusa’ but ‘rang’ is a little more difficult to describe in English. The Korean consonant ㄹ, called rieul, is pronounced like a cross between an R and an L. Instead of pronouncing ‘rang’ with a rising intonation, like the ‘rang’ in ‘orangutan’, try to keep the vowel sound flat, making it sound closer to ‘rung’, as in I called someone. Put both together and you will be pronouncing 사랑 like a native.
Next, let’s look at how to construct basic sentences about things that we love. As BTS is currently dominating the world, it seems only natural to use the group in our example sentences. If you’re looking for sentences to describe BTS, then your job is done!
How to Say “사랑해요!”
If you’ve learned a little bit of Korean, you will know that there are various forms of the language depending on formality. We’re going to look at each level of formality so you can choose the expression that best fits your situation. Let’s bring BTS out and say a few nice things, shall we?
The basic form of ‘I love you BTS’ is 나는 BTS를 사랑한다. If you want to sound a bit more natural, you could say 나는 BTS를 사랑합니다. If you want to sound friendly, consider writing or saying 나는 BTS를 사랑해요. This is the most commonly heard love related sentence in Korean, saranghaeyo!
If you want to get a bit more specific about your love for BTS, you could say “BTS 당신들을 사랑해요”. Here, the only difference is 당신, which means ‘you’. The difference between 나는 BTS를 사랑해요 and BTS 당신들을 사랑해요 is simply the difference between “I love BTS” and “I love you BTS”, which sounds a little bit nicer, don’t you think!
Now, note here that this sentence uses 들, which indicates a plural, as BTS has many members. If you want to use this sentence structure to express love for one person, simply omit the 들. Here is an example sentence, which professes love for a man named Jun-seo, “준서당신을 사랑해요!”
Now, you’ve probably heard Koreans dramas and songs simply state “사랑해요!” which is also an appropriate choice as it is the Korean equivalent of “I love you!” and is, in fact, one of the most commonly heard phrases in the Korean language, and a lovely one at that!
How to Express Love for Your Partner
Okay, so maybe you aren’t quite a fan of BTS but you’re looking for a way to express your love for something or someone special in your life. Let’s say you want to express love for your Korean girlfriend, whose name is 은하 (a pretty Korean girl’s name which means ‘galaxy). First, we need to take a look at some Korean grammar.
The importance of 를 and 을
You can see 를 in the sentence, “나는 BTS를 사랑해요”, right?
This is because the band name, BTS, actually ends in a vowel sound in Korean. When you express love to someone with a vowel sound at the end of their name, you need to pair it up with the sound ‘를’.
If you love someone with a name that ends in a consonant, you will need to use 을, which sounds slightly different. Let’s consider the Korean actor Park Bogum. The name Park Bogum ends in the consonant ‘m’, so we need to use 을 in our sentence.
Let’s go back to our lovely Korean girlfriend 은하. Does her name end with a consonant or a vowel? You’re right, Unha ends in a vowel so we need to pair her name up with 를 and now we can say “나는 은하를 사랑해요!”
Let’s look at some examples, so you get this right!
나는 Anna를 사랑해요
나는 Park Bogum을 사랑해요
나는 하늘을 사랑해요
Park Bogum 당신을 사랑해요
Anna 당신을 사랑해요
하늘 당신을 사랑해요
Park Bogum 을 사랑해요
Import Korean Dramas From Netflix into LingQ
Thanks to LingQ’s import feature, you can import your favorite Korean Netflix shows and create interactive lessons. What better way to learn love vocabulary than from a Korean drama?
LingQ will instantly import the dialogue allowing you to save new words and phrases, look up definitions instantly, review (using SRS), and grow your vocabulary (things you can’t do on Netflix alone).
To learn more, check out this video.
Keep all your favorite Korean content stored in one place, easily look up new words, save vocabulary, and review. Check out our guide to importing content into LingQ for more information.
A 12-Month Celebration of Love
If you take a look around Seoul, or any part of Korea for that matter, you will see families, children, and couples expressing their love through not only words but also physical gestures: the index and middle finger crossed in a heart shape, arms in heart shape either alone or as a couple are popular choices, as well as drinking wine or another beverage with arms linked, which can be tricky to pull off!
Koreans value their relationships, as well as small acts to keep love alive. Korea has an event each month which is designated for celebrating love in every form. In fact, there is a couple’s day each month and sometimes twice a month!
January 14th – Diary Day Couples exchange New Year diaries
February 14 – Valentine’s Day Girls express love to their love interest
March 14th – White Day Men express love to their love interest
April 14th – Black Day Singles eat 짜장면, a black noodle dish
May 14th – Rose Day Rose day (often yellow)
June 14th – Kiss Day Share a kiss! 뽀뽀!
July 14th – Silver Day Promise rings or small silver gifts
August 14th – Green Day Enjoy nature together
September 14th – Photo Day Take a couple’s photo together
October 14th – Wine Day Drink wine together!
November 11th – Pepero Day Exchange Pepero as symbol of coupledom
November 14th – Movie Day Watch a movie together
December 14th – Hug Day Share a hug – Korea is cold in winter!
December 25th – Christmas Day Christmas Day is a couples event in Korea
In addition to this, couples also celebrate:
The day they met
If you have a Korean spouse, be sure to mark this date on your calendar and plan something special for it. It doesn’t have to be big, with many couples just enjoying a nice meal together and exchanging special gifts, but your loved one will appreciate the sentiment
The day they officially became a couple
If you have a Korean spouse, you already know how formal it was when you went through that first nerve-wracking dating stage. In Korea, people verbally agree to become a couple, as in the man typically asks the woman formally, in a formal setting, which can be daunting for some. However, it marks a lovely occasion which could be celebrated for years, should you take the next step and become husband and wife!
A Romantic Journey
So there you have it, plenty of events, days, and occasions in which to profess your love! Eager to learn more about love in Korean culture? Why not watch an award-winning Korean drama, such as ‘Secret Garden’, or listen to a song about heartbreak, such as Fake Love by BTS?
14 common love-related expressions
Some high-frequency words and phrases you’ll hear in relation to love include:
사랑해요 I love you (informal)
사랑해 I love you (casual expression to friend)
사랑합니다 I love you (a more polite expression)
항상 당신을 사랑해왔어요 I have always loved you
당신은 나를 사랑하나요? Do you love me?
당신은 아직도 나를 사랑하나요? Do you still love me?
아직도 Still / until now
당신은 항상 나를 사랑할 건가요? Will you always love me?
키스 Kiss (more romantic kissing style)
뽀뽀 Casual kiss or peck on the cheek
들 Plural form
스킨쉽 Skinship –physical contact, including hand holding