If you haven't learned Korean proverbs yet, it isn't too late. Better start now, rather than never!

Proverbs play a key role in Korean language and culture. Unfortunately, proverbs might be tricky and those figurative meanings could confuse Korean language learners. Here's a list of the MOST POPULAR Korean proverbs. All the phrases are broken down into their smaller word parts. Enjoy!

Literal meaning : Even monkeys may fall from trees.

Monkeys are considered adept at climbing trees but even monkeys sometimes fall. This proverb is saying that even experts can make mistakes.

  • 원숭이 [wonsung-i] monkey
  • [do] also, too
  • 나무 [namu] tree
  • 에서 [eseo] from
  • 떨어지다 [tteoreojida] to fall

Literal meaning : Plucking a star from the sky

This phrase roughly means ‘to plunk or attain a star in the sky.'

You can use it when something is too difficult or (almost) impossible to get done.

  • 하늘 [haneul] sky
  • [eui] ‘s (possessive marker)
  • [byeol] star
  • 따다 [ttada] to plunk, to pick

Literal meaning : Others’ rice cakes always look bigger.

This proverb refers to when other people’s possessions always look better than your own, even when they are really not. 

The 떡 (rice cake) in the phrase could be easily substituted with grass: The grass is always greener on the other side.

  • [nam] other person
  • [eui] ‘s (possessive marker)
  • [tteok] rice cake
  • [i] (consonant +) subject marker
  • [deo] more
  • 크다 [keuda] big
  • 보이다 [boida] to be seen, to be looked, to be shown

Literal meaning : Starting is the half.

Getting started is often considered the hardest step. But once begun, it will move you forward easily. This phrase can be used to encourage someone who just started a task.

  • 시작 [shijak] start, beginning
  • [i] (consonant +) subject marker
  • [ban] half


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