As human beings, we are able to grow in all aspects. From the experience, the advice, and people in our lives who leave an impact, we are able to improve ourselves. Whether in need of encouragement or just need some wise words said to you, these Korean proverbs will surely do the trick! Proverbs are concrete traditional sayings that express truthfulness, common sense or experience.
The following proverbs or sayings are commonly founded off of metaphors and figurative language. They are ideal when giving advice, not only will you seem wise but will also help the ones in need. Here are 5 Korean proverbs that can make our lives a bit wiser!
- 원숭이도 나무에서 떨어 진다 (wonsung ido namueseo tteol-eo jinda)
This proverb translated into English meaning “Even monkeys fall from trees.” This saying could be interpreted as if those who have experience or are experts also make mistakes, especially for those who tend to beat themselves up over small errors. This saying can help reassure and give encouragement to those who need it while also reminding them that mistakes always happen, so don’t be too hard on yourself!
- 고난 끝에 행복이 온다. (gonan kkeut-e haengbog-i onda)
This means “at the end of hardship comes happiness,” and many may have heard of this saying throughout their life. This is for those who need encouragement and a reminder that things will be okay! Many people around the world overwork themselves, and no matter the profession or the reason behind their hard work, it is important to take breaks! Don’t stress over small things too much because in the end your hard work will pay off!
- 화약에 빠져 나와 불에 들어가는 곤충. (hwayag-e ppajyeo nawa bul-e deol-eoganeun gonchung)
Simply meaning “an insect falling into gunpowder and entering the fire.” For those who have trouble making friends, this is a great remark towards them, especially for those who are just looking for trouble, knowing the outcomes of their decisions and still acting upon them. Such a rebellious life to live!
- 예쁜 것을 듣고 예쁜 말을해라. (yeppeun geos-eul deudgo yeppeun mal-eulhaela)
“Say pretty things to hear pretty things” is a proverb that many need to learn! This saying is seen in a way of karma, or what comes around goes around. Life is a cycle, so make sure to treat others the way you want to be treated!
- 네가하는 말은 씨앗이된다. (negahaneun mal-eun ssias-idoenda)
Have you ever heard of “speak it into existence?” In a way, this is what this proverb can be interpreted to represent, meaning “what you say turns into seeds.” Like after planting seeds that eventually grow, words turn into reality in most cases. Many Koreans use this proverb when stopping others from saying negative things, just to make sure negative things don’t happen.
Proverbs are commonly used in Korea, especially by the elders. They give advice, and during other occasions, can be used as a small retort for some when not wanting to cause a big scene. Proverbs don’t only teach life lessons, but also help those who need encouragement or just inspiration. Who knew such words could make us feel so wise! But remember to not just use these proverbs randomly, there is always a time and place.
Written by Andrea Villarreal