Happy New Year and more lucky Hanjas
Hidden in the Korean phrase for “Happy New Year”, 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (sae-hae book mahn-ee bah-deu-se-yo) is “Happy New Year” in Korean. 새 means “new” and 해 means “year”, and 많이 받으세요 means “receive a lot of (something)”. Those are all ‘native’ Korean. The 복 part is Hanja and means luck, good fortune, and happiness. The character for 복 looks like this: 福
If this character looks even remotely familiar there is a reason. Go to any Chinese restaurant and you will see this character written on posters, tablecloths, chopsticks—you name it. But it is usually written in a very artistic brush style. To prove it, I took my family and my camera to our favorite local Korean Chinese food restaurant, San Tong Palace (산동반점, on Convoy) and sure enough, the character 福 was everywhere!
Let’s take a look at a few other Korean words that use this character.
행복하다: to be happy (heng-bok-hah-dah)
The 행 in 행복 also means happiness or good luck and can be found in words like 다행 (fortunate), 불행 (unlucky), and 행운 (a common word for just “luck”).
복권: lottery ticket (bok-gwon)
The character for 권 means “ticket”, so 복권 literally means “Luck-Ticket”.
경복궁: Gyung-Bok Palace (gyung-bok-goong).
This is one of the most famous historical sites in Seoul. With our ‘luck’ syllable,
복, in the middle of the palace name, the first syllable, 경 means ‘scenery or sunlight’, and can be found in two common Korean words that mean scene or scenery; 경치 (gyung-chee) and 풍경 (poong-gyung). The last syllable, 궁 means house or palace. Scenery+Luck+Palace =경복궁.