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Weird & Funny Korean Idioms

Updated: Mar 29

안녕하세요 여러분! Koreanstudyjunkie입니다. Today, I'm gonna introduce a few Korean Idioms that I think could be very useful in some common situations.

Idiom 1: 계란으로 / 달걀로 바위치기

Literal Translation: Hitting a rock with an egg

Meaning: An un-winnable situation

English Equivalent: Throw straws against the wind, To sweep the sea with a broom.

Example: 네가 힘으로 그 친구를 이기겠다는 건 계란으로 바위 치기인 격이야.

You winning against your friend using brute force is the same as hitting a rick with an egg.

Vocab Breakdown:

계란 - Egg

달걀 - Egg

으로 - With/By/Using

바위치다 - to Hit

Idiom 2: 티끌 모아 태산

Literal Translation: Accumulating dust forms a mountain

Meaning: Small things can turn into big things - every little bit helps.

English Equivalent: A penny saved is a penny earned

Vocab Breakdown:

티끌 - Dirt

모으다 - Gather, Collect

티끌을 모으다 - gather dust, gather dirt

산 - Mountain

태산 - Huge Mountain

Idiom 3: 오르지 못할 나무는 쳐다보지도 마라

Literal Translation: Don’t stare at a tree you can’t climb

Meaning: Be realistic, Don’t focus on the impossible


이 실력으로 대회에서 상을 받는다는 것은 무리니까 그냥 오르지 못할 나무는 쳐다보지도 마라.

It's impossible to win a prize in a competition for this skill, so don't just look at a tree that can't climb.

Vocab Breakdown:

오르다 - to climb, to go up

V-지 못하다 - can't Verb

나무 - tree

쳐다보다 - to stare ar

V-지 마 - don't do Verb (command)

Idiom 4: 손바닥으로 하늘을 가린다

Literal Translation: Trying to cover the sky with your palm

Meaning: You can’t hide the truth., Hiding the truth is futile

Example Dialogue:

가: 너도 지수가 거짓말을 한 거 알고 있었어?

A: Did you also know that Jisoo was lying?

나: 응, 손바닥으로 하늘 가리기나 마찬가지인데 왜 거짓말을 했나 몰라.

B: Yeah, It's the same as trying to cover the sky with your palm, so I have no Idea why she lied.

Vocab Breakdown:

손바닥 - palm (of your hand)

으로 - with, by, using

하늘 - sky

가리다 - to cover

Idiom 5: 쥐구멍에도 볕 들 날 있다

Literal Translation: Even a mouse hole gets sunlight

Meaning: Even good things come from bad situations.

English Equivalent: There's a light at the end of every tunnel, Every cloud has a silver lining, Every dog has his day.

Example Dialogue:

가: 이것 봐! 우리가 복권에 당첨되었어!

A: Look at this! We won the lottery!

나: 정말? 쥐구멍에도 볕 들 날 있다더니 이제 우리 생활도좀 나아지겠구나.

B: Really? They say every dog has its day, and now our lives are gonna get a bit better.

Vocab Breakdown:

쥐 - mouse, rat

쥐구멍 - a mouse hole

볕들다 - shine into

날 - day

있다 - to exist, to be

Idiom 6: 발등에 불이 떨어지다

Literal Translation: Fire coming off your feet

Meaning: If someone has fire coming off their feet, it means they are moving quickly.

English Equivalent: Pressed for time


마감이 코 앞이라 발등에 불이 떨어졌다.

The deadline is so soon I’m so busy!

그는 발등에 불이 떨어져야 일을 시작한다.

He only starts his work at the last minute (when he is pressed for time).

Vocab Breakdown:

발등 - the top of the foot

불 - fire

떨어지다 - to drop, fall

Idiom 7: 보는 눈 없어

Literal Translation: To not have eyes for something, To not have eyes to see

Meaning: Having a bad sense of something

English Equivalent: To have bad taste in something


빈센트는 나쁜 여자만 계속 만나는 걸 보니 여자 보는 눈이 없다

Vincent seems to only meet bad women, he has such bad taste in women.

난 한 번도 패션을 제대로 보는 눈을 가져 본 적이 없어.

I’ve never had much of an eye for fashion.

제가 사실 그런 거 보는 눈이 없어요.

I don't have an eye for that kind of stuff.

Vocab Breakdown:

보다 - to see

눈 - eyes


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