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The TOPIK Test: Tips for Getting a High Score

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TOPIK is the most popular Korean language proficiency test in the world. For those of you who don’t know much about the TOPIK Korean exam, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll provide you with tons of relevant and practical information about the test. If you’ve already decided to take the exam, you should stick around too. We’re going to give you lots of tips on how to get a high score on the TOPIK, and provide you with many free Korean study materials.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Korean Table of Contents
  1. Korean Proficiency Tests
  2. Let’s Learn More About TOPIK
  3. A Look Inside the TOPIK Korean Test
  4. Tips for Your TOPIK Exam Practice
  5. Get Ready for TOPIK with KoreanClass101

1. Korean Proficiency Tests 

Let’s take a look at what Korean proficiency tests are available to Korean-learners. In Korea, there are two kinds of Korean language tests, which are: TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) and KLPT (Korean Language Proficiency Test). We’re going to focus only on TOPIK in this article, but it’s important to compare these two tests so you know which one is better-suited for you.

1) TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) 

  • TOPIK stands for “Test of Proficiency in Korean
  • The Korean Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation 9KICE conducts these tests 
  • The test is evaluated in five main categories, which are:
    • Vocabulary
    • Grammar
    • Writing
    • Listening
    • Reading
  • TOPIK offers two different tests, which are:
    • S-TOPIK (Standard Korean)
    • B-TOPIK (Business Korean) 
  • TOPIK testing takes place twice per year (in April and September)

2) KLPT (Korean Language Proficiency Test)

  • The Korean Language Society conducts these tests 
  • The test is evaluated in five categories, which are:
    • Listening 
    • Vocabulary
    • Grammar
    • Reading
    • Conversation 
  • KLPT offers two different tests, which are:
    • KLPT
    • B-KLPT (Beginners’ KLPT) 

2. Let’s Learn More About TOPIK

Language Skills

Foreigners may take TOPIK tests for various reasons. If you’re planning to stay in Korea for an extended period of time, you should consider obtaining the highest TOPIK level. There are two levels for TOPIK: TOPIK I (the basic level test) and TOPIK II (the combination of intermediate and advanced levels). The evaluation is based on the total number of points earned.

1) What Can You Do with Your TOPIK Scores?

Test-takers register for the TOPIK exam for various reasons:

  • To enter a Korean university as a foreigner
  • To obtain a work visa for a company in Korea
  • To obtain a marriage-based immigrant visa
  • To apply for permanent residency

As you can see, one’s TOPIK results can have many practical benefits and uses! 

2) TOPIK Levels & Their Passing Scores

TOPIK I has two levels, which are Level 1 and Level 2. In order to pass Level 1, you need to attain 80 points; for Level 2, you need to attain 140 points. 

As for TOPIK II, there are four levels: Level 3, Level 4, Level 5, and Level 6. The passing marks are 120 points, 150 points, 190 points, and 230 points, respectively.

3) What Does the Exam Structure Look Like?

SectionDurationQuestionsMarksSession
TOPIK I (Levels 1-2)Listening40 min301001st session
Reading60 min40100
TOPIK II(Levels 3-6)Listening60 min501001st session
Writing50 min4100
Reading70 min501002nd session

4) How to Register for the TOPIK Test

If you reside in Korea, you can register for the test online through the official TOPIK website. The registration fee costs 35,000 KRW for TOPIK I (Levels 1 and 2) and 40,000 KRW for TOPIK II (Levels 3-6). You can pay with your debit or credit card, through online banking, or using a direct bank transfer.

If you’re from another country, you can register for the test at the Korean embassies or Korean culture centers. For registration, you’ll be required to bring two passport-size photographs and the registration fee. Note that the fee varies from country to country, so it’s important to research in advance.

A Man Listening to a TOPIK Listening Test.

3. A Look Inside the TOPIK Korean Test

Now that you know how to register, what the TOPIK tests you on, and other essential information, let’s go over what you can expect from each portion of the test.  

1- Introduction to the TOPIK Listening Section 

What is the TOPIK listening section like, and how can you score higher marks here?

1. What Type of Tasks?

These are some sample questions that you can expect to see in the TOPIK listening test. 

  • Listen to the audio and choose the appropriate picture (2 points)
  • Listen to the dialogue and choose what the speaker (e.g. woman) is going to do next (2 points)
  • Listen to the audio and choose the appropriate topic (2 points) 
  • Choose the answer that matches with the content of the dialogue (2 points) 

2. Tip for a Higher Score

Read the Question and Answers First

As soon as you open the test book, read through the questions and answers. This way, you’ll have a sense of what kind of audio will be played, and if you understand the questions and answers, it will be easier for you to spot the correct answer right away. While the audio is being played, you won’t have enough time to think and go through each answer.

3. Questions from the Past TOPIK Exams

Here are some example questions from past TOPIK exams so you can get a good idea of what to expect. 

1. TOPIK 60 I – listening exercise

2. TOPIK 60 II – listening exercise

3. TOPIK 60 I – listening exercise

4. TOPIK 60 II – listening exercise

Want to have fun while practicing your listening? Check out these pages on KoreanClass101.com:

A lLady Studying Korean on the Bus

2- Introduction to the TOPIK Reading Section

Now, let’s take a look at the TOPIK reading section and how you can ace this portion of the test. 

1. What Type of Tasks?

These are some sample questions that you can expect to see in the TOPIK reading test. 

  • Read the sentence and choose the topic (2 points)
  • Read the sentences and choose the appropriate word that goes inside the () (2 points)
  • Read the information (e.g. pamphlet) and choose the information that is not correct (3 points)
  • Read the sentence and choose the answer that matches with the topic (3 points)
  • Read the paragraph and choose the appropriate word that goes inside the () (2~3 points)
  • Read 4 sentences and choose the answer that is chronologically arranged (2~3 points)

2. Tip for a Higher Score

Try to Make Sense out of the Words You Know 

If you struggle to understand Korean phrases, it’s normal to feel stressed. But don’t let your stress take over. If the section you’re reading is too long and you can’t understand what’s written, just look for words you do understand and try to make sense out of them. Don’t forget to read the questions and multiple choices so that when you’re reading, you can remind yourself about what information to look for.

3. Questions from the Past TOPIK Exams

1) TOPIK 60

무엇에 대한 이야기입니까? <보기>와 같이 알맞은 것을 고르십시오. (각 2점)
mueose daehan iyagiimnikka? wa gachi almajeun geoseul goreusipsio. (gak 2jeom)
“What is the topic about? Select the answer that appropriately describes . (2 points per question)”

바람이 붑니다. 시원합니다.
barami bumnida. Siwonhamnida.
“The wind is blowing. It is cool.”

① 과일 ② 사람 ③ 날씨 ④ 얼굴
gwail saram nalssieolgul
① “fruit” ② “human” ③ “weather” ④ “face”
저는 일본에서 왔습니다. 친구는 미국에서 왔습니다.
jeoneun ilboneseo watseumnida. chinguneun migugeseo watseumnida.
“I come from Japan. My friend comes from America.”

① 음식 ② 나라 ③ 요일 ④ 선물
eumsik nara yoil seonmul
① “food” ② “country” ③ “day” ④ “gift”
2) TOPIK 47

다음의 내용과 같은 것을 고르십시오.
daeumui naeyonggwa gateun geoseul goreusipsio.
“Select the answer that has the same context as the sentences.”

저는 오늘 이사를 했습니다. 친구가 도와줘서 이사가 금방 끝났습니다.
jeoneun oneul isareul haetseumnida. chinguga dowajwoseo isaga geumbang kkeunnatseumnida.
“I moved in today. I could finish the moving-in quickly because a friend helped me out.”

새집에서 친구와 저녁을 먹었습니다.
saejibeseo chinguwa jeonyeogeul meogeotseumnida.
“I had dinner with a friend at a new house.”

① 친구가 이사를 했습니다. 
chinguga isareul haetseumnida.
① “A friend moved in.”

② 제가 친구를 도와줬습니다. 
jega chingureul dowajwotseumnida.
② “I helped a friend moving.”

③ 지난주에 이사를 했습니다. 
jinanjue isareul haetseumnida.
③ “I moved to a new place last week.”

④ 이사한 집에서 식사를 했습니다.
isahan jibeseo siksareul haetseumnida.
④ “I ate some dishes at a new house.”

3) TOPIK 37

다음을 읽고 물음에 답하십시오.
daeumeul ilgo mureume dapasipsio.
“Read the passage below and answer the questions.”

저는 자기 전에 하루를 정리하면서 메모를 합니다.
jeoneun jagi jeone harureul jeongnihamyeonseo memoreul hamnida.
“I summarize what I did each day by writing them down in a note.”

먼저 오늘 일어난 일 중에서 잘 한 일 세 가지를 씁니다.
meonjeo oneul ireonan il jungeseo jal han il se gajireul sseumnida.
“Firstly, I write down three things that I did well.” 

그렇게 하면 힘든 하루를 조금 잊을수 있습니다.
geureoke hamyeon himdeun harureul jogeum ijeulsu itseumnida.
“If I do so, I can forget about the hard times of the day.”

그 다음에는 내일 할 일을 ( ㉠ ). 그러면 중요한 일을 잊어버리지 않아서 좋습니다.
geu daeumeneun naeil hal ireul ( ㉠ ). geureomyeon jungyohan ireul ijeobeoriji anaseo joseumnida.
“Next, I would (㉠) for things to do tomorrow. If I do this, I won’t forget about the important things, so it’s good.” 

이렇게 메모를 하면 생각만 할 때보다 하루 하루를 훨씬 더 잘 정리할 수 있습니다.
ireoke memoreul hamyeon saenggangman hal ttaeboda haru harureul hwolssin deo jal jeongnihal su itseumnida.
“If you take notes like this, you can organize your day much better than you think.”

Q. ㉠에 들어갈 알맞은 말을 고르십시오.(2점)
Q. ㉠e deureogal almajeun mareul goreusipsio.(2jeom)
Q. Please choose the appropriate answer for ㉠. (2 points)

① 적어 봅니다
jeogeo bomnida
① “write down”

② 적게 됩니다
jeokge doemnida
② “being written down”

③ 적을까 합니다
jeogeulkka hamnida
③ “maybe write down”

④ 적을 것 같습니다
jeogeul geot gatseumnida
④ “might write down”

Q. 이 글의 내용과 같은 것을 고르십시오.(3점)
Q. i geurui naeyonggwa gateun geoseul goreusipsio.(3jeom)
Q. Choose the answer that has the same meaning as the written context. (3 points)

① 하루의 잘못한 일을 써서 정리합니다.
haruui jalmothan ireul sseoseo jeongnihamnida.
① “Summarize things that the author did wrong.”

② 아침에 일어나서 오늘 할 일을 씁니다.
achime ireonaseo oneul hal ireul sseumnida.
② “Write down things to do for the day in the morning.”

③ 잊어버린 일들은 자기 전에 메모합니다.
ijeobeorin ildeureun jagi jeone memohamnida.
③ “Write down things that the author forgot in a note.”

④ 메모를 하면서 하루의 일을 생각합니다.
memoreul hamyeonseo haruui ireul saenggakamnida.
④ “The author thinks about the day as he/she takes notes.”

It’s important to practice reading tests from the official TOPIK website. That way, you can get your hands on real tests and get a good idea of what the TOPIK reading section will be like. 

However, it’s also important to have fun while practicing your Korean skills. For a fun learning experience, why not check out the pages below? These are great for practicing your reading!

Three Students Taking a TOPIK Writing Exam

3- Introduction to the TOPIK Writing Section

Let’s take a look at the TOPIK writing section now. 

1. What Type of Tasks?

These are some sample questions that you can expect to see in the TOPIK writing test.

  • Listen to the conversation and choose the appropriate answer from the multiple choices (3~4 points)
  • Listen to the conversation and choose the location of the two speakers (3~4 points)
  • Listen to the conversation and choose the topic of the conversation (3~4 points)
  • Listen to the conversation and choose the right picture (4 points)
  • Listen and choose the answer that describes the situation (3 points)

2. Tips for a Higher Score

Read the Question Carefully

Before you do anything, make sure you know exactly what they expect you to write. Without understanding the question, you’ll end up writing answers that don’t relate to the question.

Think About What You Want to Say Before Writing 

When you begin composing your written answer, make sure that you outline your thoughts and ideas first, and only write about things you know and are familiar with.

Cross-Check Your Answer with the Question

Before moving forward, make sure that the answer you wrote matches up with the question, and that you’ve answered all of the questions.

3. Questions from the Past TOPIK Exams

1) TOPIK 26 
여러분은 “어디에서 살고 싶습니까? 왜 그곳에서 살고 싶습니까?” 그곳에 살면서 무엇을 하고 싶습니까? 여러분이 살고 싶은 곳에 대해서 쓰십시오.

yeoreobuneun “eodieseo salgo sipseumnikka? wae geugoseseo salgo sipseumnikka?” geugose salmyeonseo mueoseul hago sipseumnikka? yeoreobuni salgo sipeun gose daehaeseo sseusipsio.

“Where do you want to live? Why do you want to live in that place? What do you want to do while living there? Write about the place you want to live.”
2) TOPIK 29
여러분은 ¹토요일, 일요일에 보통 무엇을 합니까? ²어디에서 합니까? “누구하고 같이 합니까?” 여러분의 주말 이야기를 쓰십시오.

yeoreobuneun ¹toyoil, illyoire botong mueoseul hamnikka? ²eodieseo hamnikka? “nuguhago gachi hamnikka?” yeoreobunui jumal iyagireul sseusipsio.

“What do you normally do on Saturdays and Sundays? Where do you do it? With whom? Write down stories about your weekends.”
3) TOPIK 31
여러분은 ¹봄, 여름, 가을, 겨울 중 어느 계절을 좋아합니까? “그 계절은 어떻습니까?” 그 계절에는 보통 어디에 갑니까? *거기에서 무엇을 합니까? 여러분이 좋아하는 계절과 그 계절에 가는 곳에 대해 쓰십시오.

yeoreobuneun ¹bom, yeoreum, gaeul, gyeoul jung eoneu gyejeoreul joahamnikka? “geu gyejeoreun eotteoseumnikka?” geu gyejeoreneun botong eodie gamnikka? *geogieseo mueoseul hamnikka? yeoreobuni joahaneun gyejeolgwa geu gyejeore ganeun gose daehae sseusipsio.

“Among spring, summer, fall, and winter, which season do you like the most? What do you think about the season? Do you go anywhere special during that season? Write about your favorite season and the places that you go to during the season.”
4) TOPIK 34 
여러분은 ¹함께 여행하고 싶은 사람이 누구입니까? “왜 그 사람과 여행하고 싶습니까?” 그 사람과 함께 여행을 가서 무엇을 하고 싶습니까? 여러분이 함께 여행하고 싶은 사람에 대해서 쓰십시오.

yeoreobuneun ¹hamkke yeohaenghago sipeun sarami nuguimnikka? “wae geu saramgwa yeohaenghago sipseumnikka?” geu saramgwa hamkke yeohaengeul gaseo mueoseul hago sipseumnikka? yeoreobuni hamkke yeohaenghago sipeun sarame daehaeseo sseusipsio.

“Who do you want to travel with? Why do you want to travel with that person? What do you want to do with that person during the trip? Write about your ideal trip with that person.”

In order to achieve a good score for the TOPIK writing section, it’s important to practice your reading and writing together. Check out the pages below to practice your writing skills. 

4- Wait… Is There a Speaking Section?

TOPIK does not test your speaking skills. However, if you want to practice your speaking skills, we recommend that you have a look at the pages below. 

How to Improve Your Speaking Skills – Learn Korean sentences on how to improve your speaking skills

Secret Tips on How to Pass the TOPIK Exam

4. Tips for Your TOPIK Exam Practice

1) Study at a Korean Language School

Studying at a Korean language school will certainly help you improve your Korean skills in no time. This is because you’ll be working on homework and assignments every day, and everyone you meet in the class will have the same goal as you: to be fluent in Korean. If you surround yourself with people who have similar goals, it will motivate you to study more, and you and your friends can help each other, too!

2) Don’t Know the Answer? Don’t Hesitate to Use the Cross Method

Most of the tests, depending on the TOPIK level you’re taking, are multiple choice. If you’re unsure of which answer to choose, try eliminating the answers you think are incorrect. In the end, you’re more likely to narrow down the correct answer.

3) Relax! 

The more you think about how much time is left, the more poorly you’ll do on the test. If you think that certain questions may take more time than the others, just set them aside and move onto the next question. You can always come back to them later.

4) Listen to Korean Dramas or Music in Your Spare Time

Studying only with books can be tiring and boring. Learning Korean should be fun, too. In your spare time, you can actually learn Korean by watching Korean dramas with subtitles or listening to Korean music to practice your listening skills. You can even challenge yourself by mimicking words or phrases you hear.

Someone Climbing the Ladder of Success

5. Get Ready for TOPIK with KoreanClass101

We hope you now have a better understanding of what to expect from the TOPIK test and how to increase your chances of getting a great score. Is there anything we didn’t cover here that you want to know about? Do you feel more prepared for the TOPIK? Let us know in the comments! 

KoreanClass101.com offers free lessons online, and our goal is to make sure that you achieve your goal. We want you to succeed in your language-learning, and we’re here to help. So why not register today and receive free online study materials? 

Remember that in order to score a high mark for the reading section, you need to know many Korean words and have a basic understanding of Korean grammar. Without knowing the various grammar structures, you won’t do very well in other sections, either.

Here’s another list of resources for you to advance your Korean skills:

Vocabulary

You can also learn a new Korean word every day to keep your vocabulary skills sharp. Check out Korean Word of the Day for free subscription. 

Grammar

  • Basic Korean Grammar – Learn some simple tricks to understand Korean grammar.
  • Introduction to Korean Grammar – Whether you want to refresh your skills or learn new grammar structures, check out this page to practice basic Korean grammar. 
  • Idioms and Phrases – Koreans use a lot of idioms and phrases that you don’t get to see in study books. Learn some commonly used idioms and phrases here. 
  • Cheat Sheet to Mastering Korean – If you’re studying Korean on your own, you must check this out. It has twelve lessons and teaches you how to master Korean.

That’s it for now. We hope you get a high score on the TOPIK test. Good luck! 

  1. Happy: 4 or more
  2. Laughing: 1-2
  3. Pointing or gesturing (like showing something off or teaching): 2-3
  4. Sad: 1-2
  5. Shocked (different levels, like mild to super shocked): 3
  6. Angry: 2-3
  7. Neutral: 2-3
  8. Thinking (wondering) + (deciding) = 2
  9. Holding a pen or a learning object: 1
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“Happy Birthday” in Korean & More Korean Life Event Messages

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How do you wish someone well in Korean? What can you say to express congratulations or condolences in Korean?

Today we’re going to introduce many different ways to send best wishes to someone you care about in Korean. This includes some of the most important events in Korea, such as weddings, graduations, university admissions, and so on. If you master these messages, you’ll be able to be part of—and enjoy—important life events with the locals. It’s also a great chance for you to practice the language!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Korean

Table of Contents

  1. How to Say “Happy Birthday” in Korean
  2. Various Messages about Pregnancy and Birth
  3. Congratulations in Korean: Graduations
  4. Various Messages for University Admissions
  5. Various Messages for New Jobs and Promotions
  6. Messages for Retirement
  7. Congratulations in Korean: Weddings
  8. Messages for Death and Funerals
  9. Messages for Delivering Bad News
  10. Messages for Injuries and Illnesses
  11. Various Messages for “Happy Parents’ Day” in Korean
  12. Messages for Various Holidays
  13. How to Study the Korean Language with KoreanClass101

1. How to Say “Happy Birthday” in Korean

Happy Birthday

Everyone enjoys celebrating their birthdays! Koreans eat 미역국 (miyeokguk), which means “seaweed soup” on their birthdays. This soup has many health benefits and is very easy to cook at home. How about making “seaweed soup with beef” on your birthday, like Koreans do?

Below are three commonly used messages to wish someone a happy birthday in Korean.

Life Event Message 1 – “Happy Birthday”

  • 생일 축하해. (informal)
    Saengil chukahae.
    *Commonly used phrase among friends
  • 생일 축하해요. (informal-formal)
    Saengil chukahaeyo.
  • 생일 축하드립니다. (formal)
    Saengil chukadeurimnida.
    *Use this phrase when you want to express respect for someone.
  • 생신 축하드립니다. (formal)
    Saengsin chukadeurimnida.
    *Use this phrase when addressing someone who is a lot older than you, such as your grandparents.

If you’re not sure which formal phrase to use, it’s safe to say 생일 축하드려요 (Saengil chukadeuryeoyo) or 생일 축하드립니다 (Saengil chukadeurimnida).

Life Event Message 2 – “I hope you have a happy birthday!”

  • 행복 가득한 생일 보내세요. (formal)
    Haengbok gadeukan saengil bonaeseyo.
  • 행복 가득한 생일 보내. (informal)
    Haengbok gadeukan saengil bonae.

Life Event Message 3 – “Happy belated birthday!”

  • 늦었지만, 생일 축하해! (informal)
    Neujeotjiman, saengil chukahae!
    *You can write and speak this phrase; the phrase is informal.

Do you know how to sing Happy Birthday in Korean? The lyrics are quite easy because it’s directly translated from English.

생일 축하합니다.
Saengil chukahamnida.
“Happy birthday to you”
생일 축하합니다.
Saengil chukahamnida.
“Happy birthday to you”
사랑하는 우리 [이름]
Saranghaneun uri [ireum]
“Happy birthday dear [name]”
생일 축하합니다.
Saengil chukahamnida.
“Happy birthday to you”

We have more birthday-related study materials on KoreanClass101. Check them out and sing a birthday song in Korean!

A Baby and a Mother with Vegetables

2. Various Messages about Pregnancy and Birth

Talking About Age

In Korea, when a baby becomes 100 days old, they organize a ceremony called 백일잔치 (baegiljanchi), which means “100-day-celebration.” On this day, people who were invited to the ceremony bring lots of gifts for the baby, such as gold necklaces, bracelets, and rings. Below are some congratulations in Korean for pregnancy or a new baby!

Life Event Message 1 – “I will be a dad next year!”

  • 내년에 아이 아빠가 된다! (informal)
    Naenyeone ai appaga deonda!
    I’ll be a father next year!
  • 내년에 아이 엄마가 됩니다! (formal)
    Naenyeone ai eommaga doemnida!
    I’ll be a mother next year!

Life Event Message 2 – “I’ll pray for the healthiness of the baby!”

  • 아이가 건강하도록 기도할게! (informal)
    Aiga geonganghadorok gidohalge!
  • 아이가 건강하도록 기도할게요! (formal)
    Aiga geonganghadorok gidohalgeyo!

Life Event Message 3 – “Congratulations! I wish the baby grows healthy.”

  • 축하해! 건강하게 자라길 바래! (informal)
    Chukahae! Geonganghage jaragil barae!

Graduation Hat and Books

3. Congratulations in Korean: Graduations

Basic Questions

On graduation day, Korean students throw flour and eggs at each other to celebrate—some even go as far as to tear their school uniforms! This is because they want to express themselves and get rid of all the stress they had to deal with in their school years.

Life Event Message 1 – “Congratulations on your graduation!”

  • 졸업을 진심으로 축하드립니다. (formal)
    Joreobeul jinsimeuro chukadeurimnida.
    *Use this phrase if you want to show great respect to someone who is graduating.
  • 졸업을 진심으로 축하해! (informal)
    Joreobeul jinsimeuro chukahae!
    *Use this phrase with friends (it also expresses how happy you are that your friend is graduating).
  • 축하해! (informal)
    Chukahae!
    *Use this phrase with friends; it’s commonly used.

Life Event Message 2 – “Congrats!”

  • 축! 졸업! (informal)
    Chuk! Joreop!

This phrase is only used in writing, such as in cards and messages. 축 (chuk) is a shortened word for 축하 (chuka), meaning “congratulate.” This message is used among friends.

Life Event Message 3 – “You did it! Congrats!”

  • 잘해냈어, 축하해!
    Jalhaenaesseo, chukahae!

4. Various Messages for University Admissions

When referring to top Korean universities, instead of mentioning each university, they say “SKY.” SKY is an acronym used to refer to the top three universities in Korea: Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. Many prestigious universities in Korea offer a Korean language school for Korean learners, so if you want to land a job in Korea, graduating from one of these universities will surely impress your potential employer.

Life Event Message 1 – “I’m so proud of you!”

  • 네가 정말 자랑스러워!
    Nega jeongmal jarangseureowo!

Life Event Message 2 – “Congratulations”

  • 입학 축하해요! (formal)
    Ipak chukahaeyo!
  • 입학 축하해! (informal)
    Ipak chukahae!

Life Event Message 3 – “Congratulations on passing the exam.”

  • 시험 합격을 축하합니다. (formal)
    Siheom hapgyeogeul chukahamnida.
  • 시험 합격한것 축하해. (informal)
    Siheom hapgyeokangeot chukahae.

People in Their Professional Suits

5. Various Messages for New Jobs and Promotions

Getting a job in Korea is very tough, even for Koreans. Some fresh graduates spend an extra one to two years preparing to find a job they like; many Koreans stay unemployed for many years. Unemployment rates increased by 4.5% in 2019 compared to 2018, and it seems that the rate isn’t improving at all. Currently, the government is working on increasing job opportunities.

Life Event Message 1 – “Congratulations on your new job.”

  • 입사 축하해. (informal)
    Ipsa chukahae.
  • 입사를 축하드립니다. (formal)
    Ipsareul chukadeurimnida.

Life Event Message 2 – “Congratulations on your promotion!”

  • 승진 축하해! (informal)
    Seungjin chukahae!
  • 승진을 축하드립니다. (formal)
    Seungjineul chukadeurimnida.

Life Event Message 3 – “I wish you health and prosperity.”

  • 귀하의 건강과 사업 번창을 기원합니다. (formal)
    Gwihaui geonganggwa saeop beonchangeul giwonhamnida.

Useful links:

A Retired Couple Taking a Walk in the Park

6. Messages for Retirement

Retirement age is about sixty in Korea, but many elders choose to find a part-time job in order to stay financially independent from their children.

Life Event Message 1 – “Best wishes on your new chapter in life.”

  • 인생의 새로운 장을 기원합니다. (formal)
    Insaengui saeroun jangeul giwonhamnida.

Life Event Message 2 – “I wish you all the best.”

  • 언제나 좋은 일이 있기를 기원합니다. (formal)
    Eonjena joeun iri itgireul giwonhamnida.

Life Event Message 3 – “Congratulations on your retirement.”

  • 은퇴를 축하드립니다. (formal)
    Euntoereul chukadeurimnida.

7. Congratulations in Korean: Weddings

Marriage Proposal

Korean weddings have a very interesting tradition. There’s always a session where friends of the bride or groom put on a performance, including singing and dancing. This is called 결혼식 축가 (gyeolhonsik chukga).

Life Event Message 1 – “We’re getting married!”

  • 저희 결혼해요! (formal)
    Jeohui gyeolhonhaeyo!

This phrase is used by someone who is getting married, to let others know about their marriage.

Life Event Message 2 – “Congratulations! Wishing you a long-lasting marriage!”

  • 축하해. 오래오래 행복하게 살아! (informal)
    Chukahae. Oraeorae haengbokage sara!

Life Event Message 3 – “You two are truly made for each other.”

  • 두 사람은 정말 천생연분이에요. (formal)
    Du sarameun jeongmal cheonsaengyeonbunieyo.

Useful links:

A Coffin and Pink Flowers

8. Messages for Death and Funerals

Before we move on to useful phrases, it’s important to be aware of some Korean condolences etiquette for funerals. When someone passes away, the funeral is usually held on the underground floor of the hospital. Family members are to wear Hanbok in black, and women need to wear a white ribbon on their heads.

Here are the most common Korean condolences messages:

Life Event Message 1 – “I am at a loss for words.”

  • 뭐라고 말씀드려야 할지 모르겠네요. (formal)
    Mworago malsseumdeuryeoya halji moreugenneyo.

Life Event Message 2 – “Please accept my condolences.”

  • 진심으로 애도를 표합니다. (formal)
    Jinsimeuro aedoreul pyohamnida.

Life Event Message 3 – “I am so sorry to hear about your loss.”

  • 삼가 조의를 표합니다. (formal)
    Samga jouireul pyohamnida.
  • 삼가 고인의 명복을 빕니다. (formal)
    Samga goinui myeongbogeul bimnida.

Useful links:

9. Messages for Delivering Bad News

It’s not always easy to give bad news to someone, especially in cultures like that of Korea, where people tend to avoid having uncomfortable conversations. However, these phrases are a smooth way to start a difficult conversation and let the listener know what to expect.

Life Event Message 1 – “I have some good news and bad news.”

  • 좋은 소식도 있고 나쁜 소식도 있어. (informal)
    Joeun sosikdo itgo nappeun sosikdo isseo.
  • 좋은 소식과 나쁜 소식이 있어요. (formal)
    Joeun sosikgwa nappeun sosigi isseoyo.

Life Event Message 2 – “I am afraid I have some bad news.”

  • 유감스럽게도 나쁜 소식을 전해야 하겠습니다. (formal)
    Yugamseureopgedo nappeun sosigeul jeonhaeya hagetseumnida.
  • 미안하지만 나쁜 소식부터 말해야할 것 같아. (informal)
    Mianhajiman nappeun sosikbuteo malhaeyahal geot gata.

Life Event Message 3 – “I hate to be the one to tell you this.”

  • 이런 안 좋은 소식 말씀드리고 싶지 않습니다만. (formal)
    Ireon an joeun sosik malsseumdeurigo sipji anseumnidaman.
  • 이런 안 좋은 소식 부터 말하기 싶진 않지만. (informal)
    Ireon an joeun sosik buteo malhagi sipjin anchiman.

Useful Links:

A Nurse Conversing with a Patient

10. Messages for Injuries and Illnesses

There is a number of etiquette rules that you need to follow when visiting someone at a hospital in Korea.

1) It’s considered rude if you visit the hospital without prior arrangement. The person who is at the hospital may not be in the room when you visit them, or perhaps they want to have time to themselves. So be sure to check their schedule first.

2) This rule may vary depending on the person, but try not to stay there for too long. A usual visit is between thirty minutes and an hour. If the person is in a private room, then you may be able to stay for up to two hours. But it’s always good to check with the person.

3) Be careful about what color of flowers you buy. Red connotes “blood” and white flowers are for the deceased. Therefore if you’re planning to buy some flowers, avoid these two colors.

Be sure to keep these etiquette rules in mind when offering Korean sympathy condolences or encouragement!

Life Event Message 1 – “Get well soon.”

  • 빨리 나아. (informal)
    Ppalli naa.
  • 빨리 나으세요. (formal)
    Ppalli naeuseyo.

Life Event Message 2 – “Take good care of yourself.”

  • 몸조리 잘하세요. (formal)
    Momjori jalhaseyo.
  • 몸조리 잘해. (informal)
    Momjori jalhae.

Life Event Message 3 – “Take a rest at home today.”

  • 오늘은 집에 가서 푹 쉬어. (informal)
    Oneuren jibe gaseo puk swieo.
  • 오늘은 집에 가서 푹 쉬세요. (formal)
    Oneureun jibe gaseo puk swiseyo.

Useful Links:

Red Carnations

11. Various Messages for “Happy Parents’ Day” in Korean

Parents’ Day is called 어버이날 (Eobeoinal) in Korean and is annually held on May 8. On this day, children give carnations to celebrate the day with their family.

Life Event Message 1 – “Happy Parents’ Day!”

  • 어버이날 축하드려요. (formal)
    Eobeoinal chukadeuryeoyo.

Life Event Message 2 – “To me, you are the best parents!”

  • 저에게 엄마 아빠는 이 세상 최고의 부모님이에요! (formal)
    Jeoege eomma appaneun i sesang choegoui bumonimieyo!

Life Event Message 3 – “Thank you for always being there for me.”

  • 항상 곁에 있어주셔서 감사해요. (formal)
    Hangsang gyeote isseojusyeoseo gamsahaeyo.

And most importantly, don’t forget to add 사랑해요. (Saranghaeyo.) or 사랑합니다. (Saranghamnida.) at the end of the message. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t say “I love you” to your family members, Parents’ Day is your chance to do it. It will melt your parents’ (or your homestay parents’) hearts!

Five People Enjoying the Party

12. Messages for Various Holidays

Many western holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas, are celebrated among friends. People usually go to a restaurant together or watch a film.

However, Korean events such as New Year’s or Harvest Day are celebrated among family members.

Below are some ideas for how to give Korean New Year congratulations and other holiday wishes!

Life Event Message 1 – “Wishing you joy and prosperity for the new year.”

  • 새해에는 기쁨과 번영이 있기를 기원합니다. (formal)
    Saehaeeneun gippeumgwa beonyeongi itgireul giwonhamnida.

Life Event Message 2- “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

  • 즐거운 성탄과 행복한 새해 되세요. (formal)
    Jeulgeoun seongtangwa haengbokan saehae doeseyo.
  • 즐거운 크리스마스와 행복한 새해 보내길 바래! (informal)
    Jeulgeoun keuriseumaseuwa haengbokan saehae bonaegil barae!

Life Event Message 3 – “Happy ~”

  • 해피 + ~데이 (informal)
    haepi + ~dei

*This is an informal message and is the easiest way to create a simple message for your friend. Simply add a special day after 해피 (haepi), to say “Happy ~ day!” For example, if you want to send a simple Valentine’s Day message to your girlfriend or a friend, write 해피 (haepi) followed by 발렌타인 데이 (ballentain dei).

Useful Links:

The Beach in Busan

13. How to Study the Korean Language with KoreanClass101

KoreanClass101 has many free study materials for you to improve your language skills, so why not sign up for your lifetime account today? Learning a new language isn’t easy, and it certainly takes some time to improve. But taking your time to memorize and understand vocabulary and phrases is crucial. So don’t rush. I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and have a great day.

Before you go, drop a comment to let us know which of these life event messages you found most helpful! Are there any other life event messages you want to learn? We look forward to hearing from you!

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