15 Commonly Used Korean Maxim
가는 말이 고와야 오는 말이 곱다.
Nice words for nice words.
(When you speak gently and kindly, people speak back nicely to you too.)
겉 다르고 속 다르다.
The surface is different and the inside is different.
You cannot believe a person just by looking at them superficially.
Wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Literal meaning: Eat a pheasant and eat its eggs too.
Kill two birds with one stone.
Literal meaning: Scratch a boil/spot
Scratching the itch.
Leave well enough alone.
Open up can of worms.
Literal meaning: Spit whilst lying down.
Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.
It’s an ill bird that fouls its own nest.
What goes around, comes around.
Literal meaning: You can’t even enjoy the view of Kumgang on an empty stomach.
(Mountain Kumgagn is a famous mountain in North Korea)
A loaf of bread is better than song of many birds.
Literal meaning: One spoon of food doesn’t make you full.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
믿는 도끼에 발등 찍힌다.
Literal meaning: Be chopped in the foot by a trusted axe.
Stabbed in the back.
Trust makes way for treachery.
Literal meaning: Drink a Kimchi soup already.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
Literal meaning: Crying and eating mustard.
Face the music.
Bite the bullet.
남의 떡이 커 보인다.
Literal meaning: Their rice cakes always look bigger than mine.
The grass is always greener on the other side.
벼룩의 간을 빼먹는다.
Literal meaning: Taking a liver from a flea.
You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.
Literal meaning: Mountains beyond mountains.
돌다리도 두들겨보고 건너라
Literal meaning: Even it’s a stone bridge knock it and check if it’s safe or not before you cross.
Look before you leap.
You can’t be too careful.
마른 하늘에 날벼락
Literal meaning: Sudden thunderbolt on Sunny day.
Out of the blue.