[Vocabulary] 하필

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하필 (ha-pil) – of all things/people

Before anything, 하필 has a sort of hostile connotation to it, which means we would only use this in informal conversations. We could use it when we’re angry but I personally wouldn’t use it even then.

Also, 하필 is used in situations where the speaker is surprised or shocked. This is more of a colloquial term and very seldom used in written form.

It is also usually used in conjunction with 이면 but there is no significant difference whether we include 이면 in or not.

Other than “of all things/people”, another common translation is also “why do I/someone have to…” or “what is the reason for…” or a stronger one, “why on earth…”

As can be seen, sentences with 하필 would usually be a question or exclamatory question.

Examples:

하필 왜 이 시간에 왔냐고?
Why (of all things) did you have to come at this time?

집에서 가깝고 맛나는 카페가 많은데 하필이면 너무 먼 곳으로 가야 해?
There are many delicious cafes nearby but why (of all places) do we need to go so far?

우리 반에 농구를 잘 하는 학생이 얼마나 많은데 하필이면 날 골랐니?
There are so many students who can play basketball well in my class so why on earth did they choose me?

그 연예인은 잘 생겼고 노래도 잘 부르는데 하필 그 범인과 결혼했니?
That celebrity is really good looking and even sings very well but why of all people did he marry that ordinary person?