The difference between 상태 and 상황 

 April 24, 2020

By  Satish Satyarthi

Today a member of our TOPIK GUIDE Korean Study Group on Facebook asked an interesting question – Are 상태 and 상황 same or different?

상태 and 상황 have similar meanings and many Korean language learners (sometimes even native Koreans) are confused between their correct usage.

If you check the Naver Korean-English dictionary you will get following meanings of these words:

상태 – Condition, State, Situation
상황 – situation, conditions, circumstances, state of affairs

Now that’s not helping much. Is it?

Let me try to clarify the difference between the usage of 상태 and 상황.

Let’s take 상태 first –


상태 is used to describe the condition or state of a person or thing.

It can be physical or mental state of a person;  current quality condition of something, current state of something in the overall process (like – active, inactive, pending, submitted, approved, rejected and so on).

Let’s take some examples to understand it better.

차 상태가 좋지 않은 것 같아요. The car seems in bad condition/shape.

시골인데도 도로 상태가 진짜 좋네요. Even though it is a rural area, the condition of roads is really good.

오늘 내 몸 상태가 좀 안 좋아요. Today my physical condition is not very good (feeling tired or not feeling well).

지원서가 아직 미승인 상태인 것 같아요. It seems your application is still in not approved state.


In all the above examples, we are talking about the current state of a person or thing.

Now let’s take 상황 –

상황 is used to describe a situation or circumstances. It’s not the state at a point in time  but more like an ongoing situation (dynamic rather than static).

Let’s take some examples to understand it better.

요즘 한국의 경제 상황이 안 좋아요. the economic situation of Korea is not good now.

다음주 내 생일이지만 요즘 코로나 때문에 파티할 상황아니네요. It’s my birthday next week but due to Corona situation, it’s not the time to have a party.

모든 사람들은 어려운 상황을 극복해야 한다. Everyone has to overcome difficult circumstances.

요즘 네 회사 상황이 어때? 예전보다 좀 괜찮아? How is the situation in your office these days? A little better than before?


I hope now you are able to understand the difference 상태 and 상황 better now.

Happy learning!

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