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Korean Idioms You Can Use In Your Everyday Life

In this post, I will teach you a few Idioms that you can use when speaking Korean to sound a bit more like a native speaker. What even is an Idiom? The definition: a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.

Which basically means if you were to break down each word in an idiom , It wouldn’t necessarily make sense. But together it has an entirely different meaning than the words that make up an Idiomatic expression. For example, It’s raining cats and dogs.

[Here's The Original Post With Audio]

말은 쉽다

Literal translation: Words are easy.

Actual usage: Easier said than done.

Rather than being taken literally as “words are easy” think of this Korean expression as having the same meaning as the English “easier said than done.”

If a task is easier to talk about than to do, then the words to speak are formed much easier than the action of accomplishing the task.

Dialogue Example:

A: 살 빼는게 뭐가 어려워.

B: 해봤어? 난 힘들던데.

A: 그냥 매일 운동만 하면 돼

B: 그래.. 말은 쉽지

A: Losing weight is not difficult at all.

B: Have you tried doing it? It is really hard for me.

A: You just have to exercise every day.

B: Yeah… It is easier said than done.

잘난 척하다

Literal translation: to pretend to have been born and brought up well

Actual usage: to brag

This Korean idiom is used to brag about anything and everything: yourself, your skills, your parents, siblings, money, etc.

Since no one likes someone who brags or shows off a lot, if someone says “잘난 척하다” to you, it’s never a good thing.

Dialogue Example:

A: 헐! 대박!

B: 왜 왜? 좋은 일 있어?

A: 한국어 시험에서 최고점을 받았어

B:와~ 진짜 대박이다

A: 뭐 이미 예상은 했지!

B: 잘난 척 하긴!

A: Wohoo! I’m amazed.

B: Why? Something good happened?

A: I got the highest mark in my Korean test.

B: Wow! That is amazing!

A: I’ve already expected it!

B: You’re bragging again!

병주고 약주다

Literal translation: to give disease and then give medicine.

Actual usage: to say something hurtful to someone and then to say something nice to cover it up.

Saying something without thinking almost always causes a problem, whether it is making something worse or hurting someone’s feelings. Often times, people try to fix the problem or cover up the damage.

This Korean idiom can also be used if a person says something hurtful, then quickly tries to come up with something to cover up his/her thoughtlessness; however, it is already too late.

Dialogue Example:

A: 파마했어?

B: 어, 어때? 좋아?

A: 난 생머리가 더 잘 어울리는 거 같아. 어, 근데, 옷도 샀어? 그건 잘 어울리네.

B: 됐어, 병주고 약주냐?

A: Did you curl your hair?

B: Yeah. How does it look like? Do you like it?

A: I think you looked prettier with straight hair. Did you buy new clothes too? It suits you well.

B: Forget it. Are you trying to comfort me after you hurt my feelings?

놀고 있다

Literal translation: to be playing, to be hanging out.

Actual usage: to be not working at the moment; what you’re doing or saying is pathetic.

놀고 있다 can be used in two different ways: neutral and negative. In a neutral context, it is used to express that someone is doing the opposite of working, such as “playing around”, “fooling around”, “not working” “not focusing on what he/she has to do” or is “jobless”.

For a negative context, it is used when you are making fun of or laughing at someone for trying too hard to accomplish something, or the way they are going about is meaningless and childish.

Dialogue Example:

A: 뭐해?

B: 내일 수학시험때문에 공부하고 있지

A: 그런데 TV는 왜 켰어?

B: 그냥 심심해서. 공부하면서 보려고.

A: 놀고 있네~ 하나만 제대로 하세요

A: What are you doing?

B: I am studying for my Math test tomorrow.

A: Why is the TV on then?

B: I was just bored. I am studying while watching TV.

A: Get out of here. Focus on one thing!


That is all for this post! You actually can comment below this blog, so comment below and tell me your favorite Idiom! Mines is 병주고 약주다.


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