South Korean Proverbs

Enjoy dozens of witty and insightful South Korean proverbs and idioms that have been passed down from one generation to the next for hundreds of years!

  • Useful trees are cut down first.
  • A hunter’s knife cannot carve its own handle.
  • Worrying is your destiny.
  • Catch not at the shadow, and lose the substance.
  • A physician’s neighbor is never a doctor.
  • The bull that is used to the sun shivers by the light of the moon.
  • You will hate a beautiful song if you sing it often.
  • If you kick a stone in anger, you’ll hurt your own foot.
  • Wise men philosophize as the fools live on.
  • Put off for one day and ten days will pass by.
  • Cross even a stone bridge after you’ve tested it.
  • A kitchen knife cannot carve its own handle.
  • To begin is to be half done.
  • Even if you encounter a stone bridge, tap it first before crossing.
  • One moment is worth more than a thousand gold pieces.
  • A fish wouldn’t get into trouble if it kept its mouth shut.
  • A day-old pigeon cannot fly over a mountain pass.
  • The frog forgets that he was once a tadpole.
  • Try to run before you can crawl.
  • If a pedestrian sees a horse he will want to ride it.
  • Cast no dirt into the well that gives you water.
  • Even children of the same mother look different.
  • Even the moon wanes when it is full.
  • Entrust the cat with a fish.
  • You scratch where it itches.
  • Man’s mind changes throughout the course of a day.
  • Tall branches are apt to be broken.
  • Remember, even monkeys fall out of trees.
  • When you have three daughters, you sleep with the door open.
  • Virginity can be lost in one night.
  • A turtle can only get on it by sticking its neck out.
  • Even a sheet of paper is lighter when two people lift it.
  • If you want a well, only dig in one place.
  • If you starve for three days, there is no thought that does not invade your imagination.
  • Even honey can taste bitter if it’s used as medicine.
  • It is a bad plowman that quarrels with his ox.
  • A sheet of paper is lighter if two of you don’t try to carry it.
  • Put something off for one day, and ten days will pass.
  • A great river does not refuse any small streams.
  • Birds hear the words spoken in the day, and the mice those at night.
  • The deeper the waters are, the more still they run.
  • Three years will eradicate even murderous thoughts.
  • Carve the peg by looking at the hole.
  • The thief hates the moon. The thief hates the moon.
  • If there is a rich man in the area three villages are ruined.
  • Another person’s rice cake looks big.
  • Even though words have no wings, they can still fly a thousand miles.
  • Cast not pearls to swine.
  • Man’s extremity, God’s opportunity.
  • Butterflies come to pretty flowers.

For thousands more proverbs and words of wisdom, collected from over 40 countries, check out Proverbs from Around the World!

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