Thursday, August 27, 2009

Do you think 잘 부탁합니다 is silly, too?

These days you can frequently hear Koreans say "잘 부탁합니다" after their asking someone for a favor. What they want to say is, "Please do your best for me," but that is not what 잘 부탁합니다 means.

부탁하다 means "ask," "beg," or "request," and 잘 means "well," so 잘 부탁합니다 literally means, "I beg well," which sounds as if the person is bragging about his begging abilities. Instead, when you want to ask someone to do their best for you, the "traditional" Korean way is to say one of the following:
  • 청을 잘 들어주십시오. - Please grant my request.
  • 잘 돌봐 주십시오. - Please do your best for me.
  • 많이 도와 주십시오. - Please do everything you can for me.

잘 부탁합니다 supposedly comes from a Japanese expression, but it does not translate well into Korean.


  1. The best translation I saw of it was like yours, which was please take good care of me as sb interviewing for a job would have said to the interviewers, or when starting the job, or something like that. Before i saw that translation, I had deep trouble understanding the expression 잘 부탁합니다

  2. In addition to meaning 'well, skillfully', 잘 can also mean 'frequently, often' or 'thoroughly'. I think the expression 잘 부탁합니다 should be understood as originally meaning "I am/will be requesting a great deal (of you)". From that literal meaning it is not difficult to see how it has taken on its current usage.

    It's a bit like the English expression "I'll be much obliged to you". It's a way of simultaneously requesting, apologizing for, and expressing thanks for assistance in advance of it being given.

  3. Lance,

    I think Koreans should stop using 잘 부탁합니다, unless they use it to mean something like, "If you ask me nicely, maybe...." (잘 부탁하면....).

  4. why should you say "koreans SHOULD STOP USING.."?
    when they use those words, they understand each other, so there's no need to analyze what it means. i think you're analyzing it based on the meaning of each words.
    rather than doing that, you should learn their culture and find out the suitable situations to use that expressions. it's just like "yoroshiku onegaishimasu" in japanese.
    both expressions ~ 잘 부탁합니다 and
    "yoroshiku onegaishimasu" are used when you start working in a company and you want to ask the favor of the people you will work with. Or it's exactly like what Lance Sleuthe said "It's a way of [simultaneously] requesting, apologizing for, and expressing thanks for assistance in advance of it being given."

    are you korean?
    if not, then you don't have the right to say koreans should stop using a certain expression.
    if you're just learning the language, then learn to appreciate it, not criticize it.
    and it's not even silly, at all!

  5. Eunsuh,

    So 잘 부탁합니다 is "a way of [simultaneously] requesting, apologizing for, and expressing thanks for assistance in advance of it being given"?

    It sounds like a great expression for lazy people who do not want be bothered learning the proper Korean ways of requesting, apologizing, and expressing thanks.

    No, I am not Korean, but even Koreans say Koreans should stop using 잘 부탁합니다 because it is a Japanese expression that does not have the beauty and clarity of traditional Korean expressions.

    Anyway, Eunsuk, 잘 부탁합니다. I will let you decide what my meaning is.

  6. I stumbled upon this site while searching for some informations related to 잘부탁합니다, and I agree with what you've said in the post. I also think 잘부탁합니다 sounds very awkward and silly, and this is coming from me who is a native Korean. But we koreans habitually and unconsciously use the expression in our daily life without any doubt, which is sad . :(

  7. from my point of view:
    잘 부탁합니다 and 잘 보탁드립니다 it's a combination of asking a request and putting yourself in a humble position as well.
    When you start a new job and introduce yourself and say
    잘 부탁드립니다 you're telling them that you are new, you will need help/guidance, and you will come to them with questions.

    It's a shame for anyone to think Koreans have to stop using it. If anyone care enough to learn the culture, as much as there are Koreans that hate their own country, they should know how proud they generally are with their language and would be really offended if anyone make such comment.

    It's like saying English speakers have to stop using "I beg your pardon" when they didn't hear something properly unless they want the response to be: "You are pardoned".

  8. Amiqulus,

    When starting your first job, why not use 잘 돌봐 주십시오, instead? It is the tradition Korean way of asking for help and guidance. It is also much more logical and much clearer. It is a shame that many Koreans are choosing to use Japanese-style expressions instead of traditional Korean ones.

  9. 인사 부탁드릴게요.

    Can i use this during a interview. Like i want the interviewee to introduce or give their greetings to the viewers

  10. 그럼 뭐라고 해야함, 잘부탁드립니다가 아니면
    걍 잘돌봐주세요 라고해야되냐? 이게 더 웃김

  11. 이분들 말로는 '잘 돌봐주세요'가 정상이어야돼는데 웃기거나 이상하게됐다는게 슬프다는거같아요. 말그대로 '잘 부탁드립니다'가 일본용어에서 왔으니...생각해보면 찝찝하긴하죠. 근데 뭐 한국은 늘 그렇잖아요 좋을때 일본욕하고 편한데로 이런건 무관심하고. 에효

  12. (I'learning) it's a good thing I look this up. OK it an app I'm using to learn it just says 부탁합니다 means "please" but here it's considered as begging...

    Can someone help me understand. 감사합니다

  13. Westerners think the word "NICE" as lazy term in there culture.
    So they think 잘부탁합니다 is a lazy term.
    Because they are both composite term.~
    But I guess its just difference in culture~
    I believe westerners should use NIce more often~

  14. This is an old thread, but it was an interesting read. I'm Korean but I lived in the US for a while, so I'm fairly fluent in English as well. 부탁하다 isn't beg at all. Beg is 간청하다 (non-negative connotation) or 구걸하다 (negative connotation, used usually to describe what beggars do). 부탁하다 is closer to 'ask someone to do something' or 'leave something in another's care.' So 잘 부탁드립니다 means "I ask you do something well," or "I leave myself in your care," depending on the situation. In Korean, the subject is often left out of a sentence, unlike English.
    The other terms suggested in this thread are all commands. In a language with hierarchy, where you need to use a more "humble" language towards elders and people higher up than yourself, commands are not well-accepted.
    In addition, 돌보다 does mean take care of someone, but the connotation is "take care of someone that is more helpless than yourself, such as a young child or an old person." This would not work in a business situation at all.

    Most languages cannot be translated perfectly into another one, especially when the languages are as different as Korean and English. Translations need to take the culture and connotations of each word into consideration, instead of trying to directly translate each word in a sentence.

  15. Thank you so much for this. I really hate it when westerners speak for ethnics when they don't have enough grammar knowledge to back it up. Of course we would all prefer Korean without Japanese or Chinese influence but it's not possible and I personally appreciate it as a particularity of Korean culture/language and I appreciate it as it is. Also it gives me a chance to learn Japanese and Mandarin

    1. I am not sure who you are thanking, Chantel," but I usually get my opinions about Korean grammar by reading the opinions of Koreans. My opinion on this subject came from Mr. Lee Su-yeol (이수열), who is not only an author and a frequent contributor to Korean newspapers but also a former teacher who taught the Korean language to Korean elementary, middle school, and high school students for 47 years. So since you seem to hate it when grammar-deficient Westerners' give their opinion on Korean grammar, I have translated for you the opinion Mr. Lee gave in the October 10, 2002 edition of the Korean newspaper "한결레," where he was a regular contributor. It may even give you a chance to learn some Japanese:


      "잘 부탁합니다 is a ridiculous translation of the Japanese expression “よろ(宜)しくねが(願)います,” which the Japanese use to request someone to deal appropriately with a certain issue.

      “よろ(宜)しく” is an adverb meaning appropriately (적당히/적절히). The underlying intention of this part of the expression is to limit/restrict the actions of the person receiving the request. It has been translated as “잘,” so when we say “잘 부탁한다,” the speaker ends up ridiculously praising himself with “I’m good at asking for favors.”

      Therefore, correct it by using “부디 잘 돌보아 주십시오” (Please take good care of me) or “아무쪼록 잘 이끌어 주십시오” (As much as you can, please guide me well).

      If you do not do this, then it will sound like a request from a corrupt businessman seeking unfair advantages from authorities in places like administrative offices or the National Assembly, which would be extremely disgusting.

      “잘 부탁합니다”는 일본사람들이 무슨 일을 적절하게 처리해 주기를 당부하는 뜻으로 쓰는 말 ‘よろ(宜)しくねが(願)います’를 엉터리로 옮긴 것이다.

      ‘よろ(宜)しく’는 ‘적당히, 적절히’를 뜻하는 어찌씨로, 그 속뜻이 자신의 당부를 받은 사람의 행동을 한정하는 월조각인데, 그것을 ‘잘’로 옮겨서 ‘잘 부탁한다’고 하면, 말하는 사람 자신이 부탁을 잘한다는 칭찬이 되어서 우스꽝스럽다.

      그러므로 ‘부디 잘 돌보아 주십시오, 아무쪼록 잘 이끌어 주십시오’라고 고쳐 써야 한다. 그렇게 하지 않으면 부당한 이득을 노리는 악덕 기업인이 이권에 관계 있는 업무를 맡은 행정부서나 국회 등에서 청탁, 로비활동을 할 때나 씀직해서 아주 메스껍다.