This is an issue I run into occasionally when teaching others Korean, especially those who learned some Korean via music.

I know that 당신 is an intimate form of "you." Since we avoid explicitly using the pronoun "you" in polite Korean, what is the proper setting to use the word 당신?

I know that in the Bible, 당신 is used to address God, and that 당신 is also used between married couples. Are there other cases?

  • 당신 is used most commonly when trying to translate "you" from other languages to Korean.
    – user237
    Jun 26, 2016 at 10:02
  • 1
    It is commonly seen in advertising as well when referring to the reader May 30, 2017 at 9:21

2 Answers 2


In general, "당신" is a honorific expression indicating the listener, but the listener may be not close to the speaker.

  • 당신의 이름이 무엇인지 알고 싶습니다.
  • 당신을 기억하고 있겠습니다.

However, "당신" can be a belittling term in specific situations.

당신이 뭔데 참견하십니까?

"당신" can be used to represent great respect for the third person.

할머니는 종종 당신께서 손수 만드신 과자를 주시곤 하였다.

See: 당신 in Naver Dictionary

  • 2
    This is all perfect, so just for a slight addition: 당신 is also used as a term of endearment, especially for married couples, somewhat like "Honey" or "sweetheart" in English.
    – user12
    Jun 24, 2016 at 19:47

Adding to @choco-addicted's great answer, there are a few more things that you need to note.

  1. '당신' is not a very broadly used word in Korean. The Korean language doesn't use the subject or possessive pronoun as often as English and usually it is implied. For example,

성함 (honorific for 이름) 이 어떻게 되세요? What is your name?

It sounds awkward if you use '당신의' before '성함' or '이름' as in "당신의 성함이 어떻게 되세요?" It is not grammatically wrong, but 당신 doesn't sound that honorific as it is also used to refer to the second person in argument.

  1. '당신' is also used as an honorific word for the third person, e.g., your grand father/mother, your father/mother. For example,

어머니는 당신이 아프시더라도 돈을 아끼기 위해 병원에 가지 않았다. My mother didn't go to hospital to save money even though she was sick.

You can use '그녀' in the above sentence, but it doesn't sound honorific.

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