This post covers the best Korean proverbs to inspire and motivate you.
The sayings are organized by theme.
Let’s dive right in!
Koreans have been through a lot in the last few centuries. It’s no accident that they have many proverbs designed to give you hope.
In tough times like these, we can gain inspiration from Korea’s ability to make things work.
고생 끝에 낙이 온다: At the end of hardship comes happiness.
멈추지 말고 계속 해나가기만 한다면 늦어도 상관없다: It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
한 술 밥에 배 부르랴: Success doesn’t come overnight. (Lit. You can’t be full with a single spoon of rice/food.)
이가 없으면 잇몸으로 살지: You can still live with your gums if you don’t have teeth.
실패는 성공의 어머니: Failure is the mother of success.
뜻이 있는 곳에 길이 있다: Where there is a will, there is a way.
티끌 모아 태산: Many a little makes a mickle. (Lit. Dusts gathers to be a tall mountain.)
공 든 탑이 무너지랴: Hard work is never wasted. (Lit. A tower built with effort won’t collapse.)
시작이 반이다: Starting is half the task.
하늘이 무너져도 솟아날 구멍이 있다: There is always a way. (Lit. Even if the sky falls, a hole will spring up.)
개구리도 움츠려야 뛴다: Frogs must shrink to jump.
쇠뿔도 단김에 빼라: Strike while the iron is hot.
오늘 걷지 않으면 내일 뛰어야 한다: If you don’t walk today, you have to run tomorrow.
구더기 무서워 장 못 담그랴: You can’t succeed if you’re afraid of failure. (Lit. Maggots cannot be an excuse for not making soybean paste.)
목마른 놈이 우물 판다: A thirsty person digs a well.
배움에는 왕도가 없다: There is no shortcut to learning. (Lit. There’s no royal way of learning.)
내 언어적 한계는 내 세계의 한계다: The limits of my language are the limits of my world.
새로운 언어는 새로운 삶이다: A new language is a new life.
어디든 가치가 있는 곳으로 가려면 지름길은 없다: There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
말 한 마디가 천 냥 빚을 갚는다: A word may repay a debt of a thousand dollars.
가는 말이 고와야 오는 말이 곱다: What goes around, comes around.
백지장도 맞들면 낫다: Two heads are better than one. (Lit. A piece of paper is easier to carry when lifted up by two people.)
개같이 벌어서 정승같이 쓴다: Narrow gathered, widely spent. (Lit. One makes money like a dog and spends it like a minister.)
구르는 돌에는 이끼가 끼지 않는 법이다: There is no moss on rolling stones.
뿌리 깊은 나무는 가뭄 타지 않는다: Deep-rooted trees do not suffer from drought.
사람은 죽어서 이름을 남기고 범은 죽어서 가죽을 남긴다: A tiger leaves its skin after death; a man leaves his name.
콩 심은 데 콩 나고, 팥 심은 데 팥 난다: You reap what you sow. (Lit. Beans are produced when beans are planted, and red beans are produced when red beans are planted.)
Let’s Hear from You!
Koreans have many proverbs to fill you with optimism.
Now we want to hear from you.
Let us know your favorite proverb in the comments!
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this article that provide us a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only endorse the best language learning tools we use ourselves. Find out more about our code of ethics.