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10/09/2020 Special > Special


Hangul Day Special: Korean Proverbs and University Life

Four proverbs which can be related to Hanyangians’ college life


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On October 9th, Korea celebrated Hangul Day, commemorating the proclamation of the unique Korean alphabet Hangul created by King Sejong (the third king of the Joseon Dynasty) in 1446. For 2020 Hangul Day, News H introduced a number of commonly used Korean proverbs (속담 sokdam in Korean) which can be used in daily situations in Hanyang University. 

공든 탑이 무너지랴
[gongdeun tapi muneojirya]

This proverb directly translates to: a tower would never collapse if it was built with effort. This means that the effort will not be in vain and will yield the deserved result. You could say this to a friend who has studied hard but still is apprehensive about the test result. An English saying, “A man’s labor will be crowned with success" gives a similar moral.

백지장도 맞들면 낫다
[baekjijangdo matdeulmyeon natda]

The proverb's literal meaning is that even a piece of paper is easier to carry when lifted by many hands. It means that no matter how easy the task is, it will be much easier if the members worked together. When involved in group projects, sharing the work between members will always ease the workload, even when the assignment is easy. This is when you can use the proverb. An English saying that has a similar meaning is “Two heads are better than one.”

고생 끝에 낙이 온다
[gosaeng kkeute naki onda]

This proverb means that good times come after hard times, such as when you spend an especially strenuous last two weeks of a semester studying for the exams, then welcome the start of a jolly holiday. A similar English saying would be, “Of sufferance, comes ease.” 

서당개 삼년이면 풍월을 읊는다
[seodanggae samnyeonimyeon pungwoleul eulpneunda]

'Seodang' is an old term for school, and 'Pungwol' are old poems about the beauty of nature. This proverb says that a dog who has lived at school for three years will be able to read and write poems. That is, if one looks or hears about some skill for a long time, they will naturally gain knowledge and get to know how to do it themselves. Like this saying, although you do not know much about your major when you are a freshman, you eventually become the expert by accumulating knowledge over the years. A similar English saying is “The sparrow near a school sings the primer.”

Hwang Hee-won
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