안녕 vs 안녕하세요 in Korean

안녕 vs 안녕하세요 in Korean

Hi everyone, it’s your Korean teacher Jun! What do you think is the most basic word that almost people learn for a second language? It might be ‘I love you’ or some bad word like fxxk or probably ‘hello’. ‘Hello’ is super simple and seems like you can’t mess it up, right? But… what if you can actually mess up with this most simple, basic word? Today I’m going to teach you what’s different between 안녕 and 안녕하세요 in Korean.

Warm Up Your Brain

Do you know how to say ‘안녕하세요’ with a correct pronunciation? Try to say it loud!

안녕하세요 Meaning in Korean



안녕하세요 is the most common Korean phrase to say hello. It’s similar to ‘hello’. Why similar, not same? Because 안녕하세요 is a question : ‘how are you?’. You probably saw that 안녕하세요 is written with a question mark sometimes. At the moment, you might think it means ‘hello?’ but what it really means is ‘how are you?’ However, native Koreans don’t use it as ‘how are you?’ anymore in almost conversation. Now It only means ‘hello’

안녕 Meaning in Korean



I’m sure you are more familiar to 안녕 more than 안녕하세요. Because it’s shorter and easy to remember and a lot of tutorials teach it as ‘hello’. Yes, 안녕 means ‘hello’ technically, but it’s used between people who use 반말 to each other.


반말 is the opposite grammatical idea to honorific. It’s a non-honorific speech style so you really need to be careful to use it because it often can be seriously rude or insultive.  Native Koreans usually ask if they can use ‘반말’ before they use it. You can say 안녕 after you get a permission for 반말.

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안녕 vs 안녕하세요

The answer is no. Every single Korean speech is related to 반말(non-honorific) or 존댓말(honorific). You can never avoid that. There are only two options: Option no 1. Being so polite and show the respect in your speech. Option no 2. Being not polite with your speech.


안녕하세요 is option no 1. It’s polite enough and you can use it to anyone in any situation without any trouble. Remember, you can use it anytime WITHOUT ANY TROUBLE. Also, it’s the most common.


안녕 is option no 2. 안녕 is a bit tricky to use. You have to consider many conditions if you can use it. 1st, You have to be same years old or older than a person whom you are talking to. 2nd, you have to personally know a person whom you are talking to. 3rd. You and another both agree to use 반말 (non-honorific).