How to Say “Unhealthy” in Korean: A Comprehensive Guide

Learning how to express the concept of “unhealthy” in Korean is essential for effective communication, especially when discussing topics related to physical and mental well-being. In this guide, we will explore various ways to convey the notion of “unhealthy” in the Korean language, both formally and informally. Additionally, we will provide examples, tips, and even touch upon regional variations, if necessary. By the end of this guide, you will be equipped with the knowledge necessary to express this important concept in Korean.

Formal Ways to Say “Unhealthy”

When speaking formally or in professional settings, it’s important to use appropriate language and honorifics. Here are several formal ways to express “unhealthy” in Korean:

1. 비건전한 (bigeonjeonhan)

The word “비건전한” is commonly used in formal situations to describe something or someone as “unhealthy.” It can refer to both physical and mental well-being. For example:

그 식사는 비건전하다. (Geu siksa-neun bigeonjeonhada.) – That meal is unhealthy.

2. 건강하지 않은 (geonganghaji anheun)

Another formal phrase to express “unhealthy” is “건강하지 않은.” This phrase specifically refers to something or someone being physically unhealthy. Here’s an example:

그는 건강하지 않은 생활을 해왔다. (Geuneun geonganghaji anheun saenghwal-eul haewassda.) – He has led an unhealthy lifestyle.

3. 불건전한 (bulgeonjeonhan)

“불건전한” is a slightly stronger term than the previous ones, which can be used formally to imply a behavior or situation that is morally or socially unhealthy. It is often associated with negative connotations. Here’s an example:

그 도박은 불건전하다. (Geu dobak-eun bulgeonjeonhada.) – That gambling habit is unhealthy.

Informal Ways to Say “Unhealthy”

When engaging in casual conversations or speaking with friends, you can use more relaxed and informal expressions to convey “unhealthy” in Korean. Here are a few commonly used phrases:

1. 병들다 (byeongdeulda)

“병들다” is a versatile term that can be used conversationally to describe someone falling ill or something unhealthy. It is commonly used to refer to physical ailments or symptoms. For instance:

오늘은 정말 병들어 보여. (Oneul-eun jeongmal byeongdeul-eo boyeo.) – You look really unhealthy today.

2. 몸 상태가 안 좋다 (mom sangtaega an johda)

To express general poor health or a bad physical condition, Koreans often use the phrase “몸 상태가 안 좋다.” This phrase focuses on the condition of one’s body. Here’s an example:

시험 때문에 몸 상태가 안 좋아. (Siheom ttaemune mom sangtaega an joha.) – I am in poor health due to the exam.

Tips for Using “Unhealthy” in Korean

To better understand and utilize the concept of “unhealthy” in Korean, here are a few tips:

1. Context Matters

Consider the context in which you are using the term “unhealthy” to ensure its appropriateness. Different situations may call for different expressions and levels of formality.

2. Pay Attention to Honorifics

When speaking formally, it is crucial to use appropriate honorific language to show respect. This includes using the correct verb forms and honorific endings.

3. Adapt to Regional Variations (if necessary)

While Korean is primarily spoken in South Korea and North Korea, there may be regional variations in the language. If you are specifically learning Korean for a certain region, be aware of any local terms that may be used to express the concept of “unhealthy.”


Being able to effectively communicate the idea of “unhealthy” in Korean is essential for expressing concerns about physical and mental well-being. In this guide, we have explored various formal and informal ways to convey this concept in Korean. By following the tips provided, you can adapt your language to different situations confidently. Remember to pay attention to honorifics and context, as they play significant roles in Korean communication. Practice using these phrases and expressions to enhance your language skills, and always strive for clear and respectful communication in both formal and informal settings.

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