Basically it means “I’m okay” or “It’s fine”. Also, this can be turned into a question.
“Gwenchana?” (괜찮아?) = Are you okay? Okay?
“Gwenchana.” (괜찮아.) = I’m okay. Okay.
Gwenchana 괜찮아 more of a “Ghen”, where the “Gh” is more of a soft “k” sound. So khen-chan’-ah is how it sounds (Though “ㄱ” is sort of between the English “g” and ”k”).
It is pronounced 괜찬아 in speaking, but Koreans write it in 괜찮아 even though ㅎ does not effect the pronunciation at all (the “h” is silent).
How do you use 괜찮아 gwenchana? Well like our okay it has many meanings depending on the situation and the tone of voice that the speaker uses.
괜찮아 = It’s OK.
괜찮아 = It’s alight.
괜찮아 = Looks good.
괜찮아? = Are you OK?
괜찮아! = I’m fine!
괜찮아 = No worries.
괜찮아 = Never mind.
괜찮은데 = Not Bad.
The meaning depends on the context used.
There’s also the meaning of declining something, usually in a different tone than the main definition.
“I’m sorry I just bumped into you, are you okay? (부딪쳐서 미안해, 괜찮아?)” “I’m okay (Gwenchana (괜찮아))”
“I just bought some bread, you want some? (빵 아까 샀는데, 좀 줄까?)”
bbang akka sassneunde, jom julkka? “No, I’m good. (아냐, 괜찮아) Anyo, gwenchana
If you wish to speak to someone who is older, you can use the honorifics which is “괜찮습니다 (Gwenchanspnida)” or “괜찮아요 (Gwenchanayo)”. These two also have different meanings as honorifics, but that’s a for another time.
So how does it sound? Here are some example:
“It’s not bad. It will be fine“ (Gwenchana gwenchanayo):
In this clip from Modern Farmer, Lee Hong Ki’s character had convinced his former bandmates to move to the little bit of land he inherited in the country. Originally he thought he could sell it and use that to restart the band but found that cabbage farming would bring in more money than selling the land. It is not the pastoral paradise he made it out to be so he is left trying to convince them it’s still gwenchana (okay) gwenchanayo (it’s fine).
Gwenchana gwenchana “It’s fine, not a problem.”
in this clip from Welcome to Waikiki convincing Lee Yi Kyung‘s character finds that convincing his friends that his ”new“ car is fine may be difficult.
Gwenchana is often heard in songs as well.
“Gwenchana gwenchanado” - “It’s okay to be okay”
This phrase you can hear in D.O.‘s (from EXO) solo song
Gwenchana in BTS’ song is “I’m Fine”
For BTOB gwenchana was “It will be okay”.
아파도 괜찮아 apado gwenchana is “It’s okay even though it hurts”.
In NCT Taeil’s solo song Because of You the phrase used is “Apado Gwaenchana” and in this FMV with NCT it seems to fit.
So next time you’re hurt, think 아파도 괜찮아 apado gwenchana