Talk:Korean proverbs

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Bold textseeing is believing

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One of the most famous Korean sayings:

Sonbadageuro haneuleul gariryeohanda (손바닥으로 하늘을 가리려한다)

Don't try to cover the whole sky with the palm of your hand.

  • Explanation: One can only "cover" the sky if he covers his own eyes, but the sky is still there and can not be denied its existence. Therefore, this is a very foolish thing to do.
    • (i) You are denying your past actions and can not come to terms with yourself nor with the other person(s).
    • (ii) You are not being honest to yourself and not admitting how you feel about someone or something.
    • (iii) You are avoiding the obvious, but you are going to have to face it one day.
    • English: The time flies and waits for none.

Dduhsi itnuhn kose kiri itda (뜻이 있는 곳에 길이 있다)
"In a place where there is will, there is a road."

  • Basically Korean version of: "Where there's a will, there's a way."

Kong simeundae kongnago, pat simeundae pat nanda (콩 심은데 콩나고, 팥 심은데 팥난다.)
"Beans come out from where beans are planted, and padd (red beans) come out from where red beans are planted."

  • Comparable to the English proverb, "You know the tree by its fruit."

Weonsungido namueseo ddeoleojinda (원숭이도 나무에서 떨어진다.)
"Even monkeys may fall from trees."

  • Even experts make mistakes
    • Swedish equivalent: Even the best ones can do wrong.

Malhanaro cheonnyangbit gapneunda (말하나로 천냥빚 갚는다).
Repaying a 1000-Nyang (old Korean currency unit) with one word.

  • Meaning: Tact can go far, and may even settle large debts.

Natmaleun saega deudgo bammaleun juiga deudneunda (낮말은 새가 듣고 밤말은 쥐가 듣는다).
"Birds listen to day-words and rats listen to night-words."

  • Be careful of when or where you say, because there are always people around that may overhear you.
    • English equivalent:: The walls have ears.

Seodanggae sam nyeone pungweol eupneunda (서당개 삼 년에 풍월 읊는다).
After three years at a village schoolhouse, even a dog can recite a poem.

    • English equivalent: Practice makes perfect.

Bin surega yoranhada (빈 수레가 요란하다). - An empty cart rattles loudly.

  • Meaning: It is not the ones who advertises for themself that can accomplish the most.
  • French equivalent: It is not the cow that moos the most that gives the most milk.

Aneun gildo muleogara (아는 길도 물어가라). - Even if you know the way, ask one more time.

  • Do not be overconfident and assume that you know anything perfectly well. There are always unknown or unexpected details.

Shijaki banida (시작이 반이다). - Starting is half the task.

  • A good start is important to any effort.
  • English equivalent: Well begun is half done.




Horangineun jugeumyeon gajugeul namgigo, sarameun jugeumyun ireumeul namginda (호랑이는 죽으면 가죽을 남기고, 사람은 죽으면 이름을 남긴다)
"When tigers die, they leave leather behind. When people die, they leave their names behind."


Kong simeundae kongnago, pat simeundae pat nanda (콩 심은데 콩나고, 팥 심은데 팥난다.)
"Beans come out from where beans are planted, and padd (red beans) come out from where red beans are planted."

  • Comparable to the English proverb, "You know the tree by its fruit."


Weonsungido namueseo ddeoleojinda (원숭이도 나무에서 떨어진다.)
"Even monkeys may fall from trees."

  • Even experts make mistakes


Ganeunmali gowuoya oneunmali gopda (가는말이 고와야 오는말이 곱다).
"Coming words will be beautiful if gone words were beautiful."

  • Sweet responses are begotten from sweet words. What you say is what you will hear.


Malhanaro cheonnyangbit gapneunda (말하나로 천냥빚 갚는다).
Repaying a 1000-Nyang (old Korean currency unit) with one word.

  • Tact can go far, and may even settle large debts.


Cheonritgileun han geoleumbuteo (천릿길은 한 걸음부터)
"A 1000-li (old Korean length unit, about 0.4 km) journey starts with one step."

  • All things have a beginning. Even great projects must start with something, be it small or large.


Ggoriga gilmyeon japinda (꼬리가 길면 잡힌다).
"One will get caught if one's tail is too long."

  • Leaving behind much traces of yourself, or acting widely will make yourself conspicuous and easily apprehended.


Natmaleun saega deudgo bammaleun juiga deudneunda (낮말은 새가 듣고 밤말은 쥐가 듣는다).
"Birds listen to day-words and rats listen to night-words."

  • Be careful of when or where you say, because there are always people around that may overhear you.


Dduineun nom uie naneun nom itda (뛰는 놈 위에 나는 놈 있다).
"There's a running chump, and above it is a flying chump."

  • There's always someone better than someone else at something.


Seodanggae sam nyeone pungweol eupneunda (서당개 삼 년에 풍월 읊는다).
After three years at a village schoolhouse, even a dog can recite a poem.

  • Practice makes perfect.


So ilko ueyanggan gochinda (소 잃고 외양간 고친다).

  • After losing a cow, one repairs the barn.
  • Only after a big disaster, you fix the problem.


Tiggeulmoa taesan (티끌모아 태산).

  • Gather dust to build a mountain.
  • From dust, one can build the Tai Sahn, a mystical mountain, the highest in the world - a proverb about saving.


Deungjan michi eodupda (등잔 밑이 어둡다).

  • It's darkest underneath the lampstand.
  • We often do not know what is going on right in front of us. It is a kind of warning to keep an eye on your own business and to take care of the matters close to you first.


Bin surega yoranhada (빈 수레가 요란하다). - An empty cart rattles loudly.

  • Fools who know nothing constantly try to show off what they know, but the wise who know all are silent.


Aneun gildo muleogara (아는 길도 물어가라). - Even if you know the way, ask one more time.

  • Do not be overconfident and assume that you know anything perfectly well. There are always unknown or unexpected details.

Namwi ddeogi deo keo boinda (남의 떡이 더 커 보인다). - Someone else's rice cake always looks bigger.

  • Comparable to the English proverb, "The grass is always greener on the other side"

"Dangsin-eun jeonche-e seoitdamyeon dangsin-eun pagoisseo, dangsin-eun pagoreul jungjihaeyahamnida."
(당신은 전체에 서있다면 당신은 파고있어, 당신은 파고를 중지해야합니다). "If you're standing in the hole you're digging, you should stop digging."

  • Know when to stop. It is easy to make it almost impossible to get out of trouble.

Shijaki banida (시작이 반이다). - Starting is half the task.

  • A good start is important to any effort.


Horangido je malhamyeon onda (호랑이도 제 말하면 온다). - If you speak of the tiger, it will come

  • Comparable to the English proverb, "Speaking of the Devil"