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I just encountered the phrase:

해가지고난후

In which I interpreted as After the sun sets.

해가지다 means sunset, and 후 means after. I also understand that the connecting particle 고 is like "and" in English. My question is that what is the purpose of 난 in the sentence? I know it is a shortened 나는 meaning "I" but what does it mean in the phrase?

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-고 나다 (and also -고 난) are function words there. You can disassemble 해가 지고 난 후 as follows:

  • 해: a noun meaning "the sun"

  • 가: a subject marker attached to 체언 that ends without 받침

  • 지다 (stem: 지): a verb meaning "(for the star, planet, or moon) to set"

  • -고: a connective ending attached to the main verb and required by the following (auxiliary) verb

  • 나다 in -고 나다 (stem: 나): an auxiliary verb used when the subject having completed the action of the preceding statement

  • -ㄴ: an ending of a word that makes the preceding statement function as an adnominal and indicates an event or action having occurred in the past

  • 후: a noun meaning "a later time"

Thus, the verb 나다 requires another verb before it in a specific construction with the ending -고. You should keep in mind that a lot of verbs require certain grammatical constructions and have multiple meanings.

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