korean proverbs and sayings to-do
list done list
짚신도 짝이 있다 (명사) there`s someone out there for everyone. Literally translated, this means "even the straw shoe has a mate."
수박 겉 핥기 This means "licking the surface of the watermelon." Since you cannot taste the tasty part (the inside of the watermelon), you aren`t truly experiencing the watermelon. This saying refers to skimming text -- you aren`t getting the juicy, tasty part -- you`re just skimming it.
떡 본 김에 제사 지낸다 Since you`ve seen the ddeok (rice cake), you spend [your time at] the ancestral rites [where ddeok is usually present]. This is used when you`ve already done something and you figure that you might as well do something else related while you`re at it.
사공이 많으면 배가 산으로 간다 When there are many boatmen, the boat goes to the mountain. In other words, the boat doesn`t go where it`s supposed to. Too many chefs spoils the pot.
배보다 배꼽이 크다 The bellybutton is larger than the belly. In other words, the cost of doing something administrative or unrelated to the main thing is more than the thing itself. For example, if you buy a $25 present for someone and spend $50 in shipping and handling, the bellybutton (the S&H) is bigger than the belly (the present itself).
정들자 이별이라 This is a good one for a foreigner in Korea to know, unfortunately. It literally means "as soon as you enter [into] affection [with someone], it`s separation." In other words, the moment we consider someone a friend, we are separated from them -- they move or otherwise disappear from our lives.
바늘 도둑이 소 도둑 된다 The needle thief becomes a cow thief. To put this saying in the words of Weird Al: "cause you start out stealing songs [MP3s], then you`re robbing liquor stores, and selling crack, and running over children with your car!" According to our teacher, stealing a cow used to be punishable by death in Korea, because the cow was considered so important to an individual`s/family`s livelihood. Therefore, in this age, this phrase is equivalent to saying "the needle thief becomes a brutal murderer."
남의 떡이 커 보인다 Others` ddeok (rice cake) looks big. The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
소 잃고 외양간 고치기 This means "losing a cow, then fixing the stable." In other words, AFTER a crisis, you prepare against the crisis. It would`ve been more helpful if you`d prepared beforehand!
개똥(쇠똥)도 약에 쓰려면 없다 This is my favorite Korean saying in the entire language. It literally means "When you use dog shit (horse shit) as medicine, there isn`t any." I`m not exaggerating, they`re really using the swearword "shit" here, not just poop ("대변"). The meaning of this phrase is this: things that are all over the place and that you take for granted suddenly disappear when you need them most. If you have a gazillion pens strewn all over your desk, and one day, you need to write down a phone number in a hurry, you`ll be unable to find a pen!