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Korean Sayings – 8 Useful Expressions of Wisdom

In this post, we’ll explore some popular Korean sayings and their meanings. These Korean phrases will not only give you a glimpse into the Korean culture and language, but it also teaches you some wisdom that is useful in real life.

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So, let’s dive in and discover the fascinating world of Korean sayings together!

“Sayings” in Korean

You can say “sayings” in Korean as 명언 (myeongeon) when you’re referring to a famous or wise saying. This term can also refer to “wisdom.”

On the other hand, if it’s a common saying, you can use the word 속담 (sokdam).

Korean Sayings

Below are various sayings in Korean that you might hear from time to time from your Korean friends or elderly Korean people who often provide wisdom and advice.

1. 말보다는 실천을 하라 (malbodaneun silcheoneul hara) 

Listen here:

Meaning: Actions speak louder than words

Literal Meaning: Don’t just speak; put it into action

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

When to use it: You can use this Korean expression in any situation when you want to motivate another to get something done. For example, a mother could use this to their school-aged child to get them to do their homework instead of just saying they’ll do it later. The literal translation of Korean words into English is similar to their actual meaning, so it is easy to understand.

2. 늦더라도 안 하느니보다 낫다 (neutdeorado an haneuniboda natda)

Listen here:

Meaning: Better late than never

Literal Translation: Late is better than not doing

Better late than never

When to use it: You can use this Korean proverb in cases when you think it’s better to do something late than never to arrive or happen, like arriving at an appointment.

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3. 정직은 최선의 방책이다 (jeongjigeun choeseonui bangchaegida)

Listen here:

Meaning: Honest is the best policy

Literal Translation: Honesty is the best way

Honesty is the best policy

When to use it: You can use this saying to express to someone that telling the truth is the right thing to do. For example, you might use it with a girlfriend who caught her boyfriend skipping Korean class!

4. 날개 돋친 듯이 팔리다 (nalgae dotchin deusi pallida)

Listen here:

Meaning: Selling like hotcakes

Literal Translation: Selling as if they’re flying away

Selling Like Hotcakes

When to use it: This is the Korean version of “selling like hotcakes” and can be used to describe things that are selling really well, like umbrellas when it’s raining or ice cream on a really hot day!

5. 재주가 많은 사람은 뭐 하나 제대로 하는게 없다 (jaejuga maneun sarameun mwo hana jedaero haneunge eopda)

Listen here:

Meaning: Jack of all trades, master of none

Literal Translation: A person with many skills cannot do one properly

jack of all trades, master of none

When to use it: Use it when referring to a person that is competent in many skills but never becomes an expert in any particular one because they are too busy learning skills to an adequate level.

6. 예방은 치료약보다 낫다 (yebangeun chiryoyakboda natda)

Listen here:

Meaning: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Literal Translation: Prevention is better than a cure

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

When to use it: You can use it to suggest that it is better to avoid problems in the first place rather than fix them once they come up.

7. 행운의 여신은 용기 있는 자를 좋아한다 (haengunui yeosineun yonggi inneun jareul joahanda)

Listen here:

Meaning: Fortune favors the brave

Literal Translation: The goddess of good fortune likes a person who has the courage

Fortune favors the brave

When to use it: It is commonly used to encourage people to be brave and carry out their plans. For example, a friend may say it to another who doubts whether they should start their own business or open a shop.

8. 오늘 한 시간이 내일 두 시간 보다 가치있다 (oneul han sigani naeil du sigan boda gachiitda)

Listen here:

Meaning: One hour today is worth two tomorrow

Literal Translation: There is more worth in one hour today than in two hours tomorrow

One hour today is worth two tomorrow

When to use it: You can suggest that doing something immediately and taking action, even if it’s not perfect, is better than procrastinating.

If you’d like to learn Korean further through these wisdom-filled phrases, you can refer to more of our resources below.

Korean Proverbs – https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-proverbs-sayings/

Korean Idioms – https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-idioms/

Korean Quotes – https://www.90daykorean.com/korean-quotes/

Wrap Up

As you learn languages, you’ll come across lessons like these too. Hopefully, learning these Korean sayings has helped you in language learning and real-life situations, especially if you’re in South Korea. You will not only get to learn a new language, but you will get to speak Korean with wisdom in your everyday life too!

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