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The following two sentences sound like can be translated in the same way:

  1. 저는 설악산에 가 버리다고 행복해요
  2. 저는 설악산에 가 버려서 행복해요

Which to me means

I am happy that I am finally going to Seoraksan.

I wonder however if one of the two is more correct than the other or if they're equivalent it is a matter of emphasis.

To me the first sound a quotation of what made me happy the second puts more emphasis on what is causing the happiness.

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First of all, 버리다고 행복해요 is grammatically wrong.-아/어 버리다 is a verb form whose -다고 conjugation is 버린다고. This is the same conjugation pattern as 하다 becoming 한다 or 가다 becoming 간다.

More importantly, the two sentences you wrote don't convey the meaning you intended. You seem to have a misunderstanding of -아/어 버리다.

-아/어 버리다 means to do something once and for all and be done with it, or unintentionally committing some mistake so you can't undo it. Just like throwing something away (the meaning of 버리다 as a normal verb), -아/어 버리다 means to commit an act beyond repair or undoing. Examples: 잊어버렸다 = I forgot something (accidentally); 잊어버려 = Forget about it (i.e. Don't dwell on it); 말 없이 가버렸다 = They went off without saying a word.

"finally" or "at last" is an adverb which describes an event or action happening, so it can't be expressed with -아/어 버리다 which is a helper verb. I think final here means the waiting is now finished, rather than the event itself. There are adverbs like 드디어 and 마침내 for this meaning. The two are often interchangeable but 드디어 stresses the emotional reaction like when something big or awaited is finally happening, while 마침내 sounds like "It's been a long time coming but it is indeed happening". Your 설악산 example would work better with 드디어.

So you might say 저는 (드디어) 설악산에 가서 행복해요 (-다고 doesn't normally convey reasons for one's own emotional reaction (it can be used for a third person case though)), but 가서 is not the best choice of phrasing. What we most commonly say in this kind of situation is 가게 되어서 행복해요 which talks about an event or opportunity coming true. It is similar to saying "I get/got to go to Seoraksan". Other examples -게 되다 would be: 저는 일본으로 전근을 가게 되었어요 = It's been decided that I'll be transferred to Japan, 당신을 만나게 되어서 다행이에요 = It is fortunate that I have met you.

So I think the best way to say it is: 저는 (드디어) 설악산에 가게 되어서 행복해요.

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  • Sounds like the 아/어 버리다 denotes more the end of a stressful situation. Maybe that's my missunderstanding? Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 6:16
  • Yeah, it can be putting an end to something stressful. It is used widely for many different situations as long as the action is decisive and final. You can say things like 차를 팔아버렸다 (I sold my car away), 소금을 너무 많이 넣어서 국을 망쳐버렸다 (I (accidentally) ruined the soup by putting in too much salt), 그 사람과 해어져버렸어 (I split with him), 탁자 위에 둔 케이크를 강아지가 먹어버렸다 (The dog ate the cake I put on the table). The result is probably more often negative, bad situation, but it can also be what you wanted.
    – Tony
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 6:47

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