Korean proverbs

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What then in love can woman do? If we grow fond they shun us. And when we fly them, they pursue: But leave us when they've won us.
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This article should be merged with w:en:Korean proverbs

One of the most famous Korean sayings:

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.

호랑이는 죽으면 가죽을 남기고, 사람은 죽으면 이름을 남긴다 "When a tiger dies, it leaves its leather behind. When a person dies, he/she leaves her name behind."

서당개 삼 년에 풍월 읊는다. After three years at Sodang (community school for children), even a school's dog can chant poetry.

소 잃고 외양간 고친다.

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

빈 수레가 요란하다.

  • An empty cart rattles louder.
  • When one has little substance, he/she tends to boast more.

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.

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.


  • 소 잃고 외양간 고친다. - After losing a cow, one repairs the barn.
  • 빈 수레가 요란하다. - An empty cart rattles loudly.
  • 하늘의 별 따기. - Catching a star in the sky. - an impossible deed.
  • 아는 길도 물어가라. - Even if you know the way, ask one more time.
  • 티끌모아 태산. - One can build a mountain by collecting specks of dust.
  • 낫 놓고 기역자도 모른다. - One doesn’t know the(a Korean character) even when looking at a sickle.
  • 남의 떡이 더 커 보인다. - Someone else's rice cake always looks bigger.
  • 시작이 반이다. - Starting is half the task.
  • 등잔 밑이 어둡다. - Underneath the lampbase is dark.
  • 호랑이도 제 말하면 온다. - If you speak of the tiger, it will come