Every language has certain expressions that have deeper meanings. When you’re taking Korean lessons, it can be fun to learn these Korean expressions. Here, Paradise Valley, AZ teacher Hannah V. teaches you 10 Korean idioms…
Idioms are both puzzling and interesting, and sometimes even profound. Read on to find out the true meaning behind 10 well-known Korean idioms.
쏜: Shot, 살: Abbreviation of 화살 (arrow), 같이: Like
This Korean phrase means that someone or something is super fast. If someone can run like an arrow, he or she must be really fast!
Example: 그는 쏜살같이 달렸다 “- He ran super fast”.
바람: Wind, 을: Particle for the object, 맞다 Run into / get / get beaten up. 비맞다 Means “get rained on”
Despite the literal translation, this phrase actually means to get stood up (usually on a date).
Example: 그녀는 바람 맞았다 – “She was stood up”.
고슴도치: Porcupine, 도: Also, 자기: His or her, 새끼: Offspring, 는: Particle for the subject, 예쁘다: Pretty
Note: 새끼 is used for animals’ offspring, so be careful not to use this word if you’re referring to a human baby.
Most parents can probably relate to the true meaning of this Korean idiom: Every parent thinks his or her baby is pretty.
그림의: On a painting, 떡: Korean rice cake
This phrase refers to something that you want but can’t have, usually because you can’t afford it.
Example: 이 롤렉스 시계는 그림의 떡이다 – “I can’t afford this Rolex (but I want it).”
시작: Initiative, 이: Particle for the subject, 반이다: Half
The literal translation for this Korean idiom is pretty close to the real meaning: When you want to accomplish something, taking the initiative is a big step.
눈: Eye(s), 코: Nose, 뜰새: Time to open 없다: Do not have
This Korean expression means that the subject is extremely busy (hence he doesn’t have time to open his eyes and nose).
Example: 나는 눈코 뜰새 없이 바쁘다 – “I am extremely busy”.
바가지: A Korean bowl 쓰다: Put (something) on (head or face)
Note: 쓰다 is only used for clothing that goes on one’s head or face (like a hat or mask).
This phrase actually means to get cheated on a price, to get ripped off, or pay for an overpriced item.
Example: 나는 해변가에서 바가지 썼다 – “I got ripped off at the beach”.
귀: Ear(s), 빠진: Pulled out, 날: Day
This Korean idiom essentially means your birthday (when you were born, you were pushed out of your mother’s womb, including your ears).
Example: 오늘은 귀 빠진날이다 – “today is (my) birthday”.
개천: Stream, 에서: at (in) 용: Dragon, 났다: Was born
This expression refers to someone from a small town with an ordinary background, who has had great success. In Korea, 용 has a positive meaning. When it’s used to refer to a person, it implies that he or she is extremely successful.
혼자서: Oneself, 북: Drum, 치고: play and 장구: Korean double drum 친다: Play
This expression refers to someone who tries to do everything by himself. It has a negative connotation because it implies that that he or she doesn’t care about other peoples’ opinions. It’s difficult to imagine someone actually playing both instruments at the same time because you would need more than two hands.
If someone tries to do this, he or she must like to work alone.
Do any of these Korean idioms remind you of expressions you’ve heard in English? Share them in the comments below.
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