Abstract This study describes the impact of diabetes and the meaning of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) for 22 male and female patients in Korea. Open-ended interviews yielded six HRQOL themes: health, overall well-being, harmonious relationships and family responsibilities, a rewarding life, spiritual life, and material support. The physical impact of diabetes included decreased energy, limitations, and physical suffering; while its psychological/spiritual impact extended to general stress, helplessness, fear, depression, anger, and relationship with God. Like Americans, Koreans valued health, psychological well-being and interpersonal support. In addition, the Koreans valued smooth, harmonious interpersonal relationships, overall well-being pertaining to living a comfortable and honorable life.