11 Wise Korean Proverbs

By Koreaboo

Korea has a strong culture of showing respect to elders. The old and experienced have learned much in life, and these wise Korean proverbs offer some insightful knowledge to live by.

  • 고생 끝에 낙이 온다 -The end of hardship comes happiness

    This proverb is used as encouragement during hard times, saying that hard work will eventually pay off.

  • 원숭이도 나무에서 떨어진다 - Even monkeys fall from trees

    People aren't perfect; even experts can make mistakes from time to time. 

  • 시작이 반이다 - Starting is half the task

    This one is relatively self-explanatory. Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part off any task; just jumping in will move you forward.

  • 가재는 게 편이라 - The crayfish sides with the crab

    This proverb means that people with similar traits or backgrounds usually stick together and side with one another.

  • 고양이에게 생선을 맡기다 - Don't entrust a cat with a fish

    Just as you wouldn't give a fish to a cat and expect it not to be eaten, don't trust people in situations where they can take advantage of you!

  • 옷이 날개다 - Clothes are wings

    Much like the English saying "The clothes make the man", this proverb says that people will judge you by the way you dress.

  • 등잔 밑이 어둡다 - It is dark under the lamp

    This oxymoron tells us that sometimes the answer is right under our noses; we might be disregard something that seems obvious because it's 'in the light', even when the answer might be right there.

  • 빈 수레가 요란하다 - An empty cart rattles loudly

    This proverb essentially means that those who talk the loudest aren't necessarily the most successful. Just because someone is outspoken doesn't necessarily mean they're right!

  • 아는 길도 물어가라 - Even if you know the way, ask again

    Don't be overconfident or make assumptions. There are always unexpected results that will pop up.

  • 누워서 떡 먹기 - Eating rice cakes while lying down

    A very close proverb to the English counterpart of "a piece of cake". "Eating rice cakes while lying down" just means that something is very easy.

  • 엎지러진 물이다 - It is spilled water

    An English equivalent of this proverb would be "don't cry over spilt milk". Don't worry yourself with minor issues that don't matter in the long run.