Three Korean Proverbs to Start Off the New Year

Hello, how are you doing in the first week of year 2022? Time flies so fastly and it’s up to us to make this year count.

Are you accustomed to hearing proverb in your daily life?

Or are you a frequent speaker of proverb in your own mother tongue?

As in many other cultures, proverb holds an important position in the Korean society. It’s a part of linguistic capability and inherited across generations through stories and pieces of advices.

I’ve encountered many Korean proverbs through being acquainted with Koreans in my country and reading various literature sources.

To start this year on a good note, I’d like to bring to you the three Korean proverbs which will inspire us to have a better year.

1. 원숭이도 나무에서 떨어진다.

Wonsungido namueseo tteoleojinda.

It literally means: “Even monkeys fall from the trees.”

I personally take the saying to mean, even the most perfect person can make mistakes. So, it’s okay to have made mistakes as long as I do something to correct it.

Let’s focus on the solution, my friend, not the problem.

Starting off the new year, let’s be compassionate towards ourselves. Forgive our mistakes and flaws from the past year. Be optimistic and hopeful to be and to do better this year.

I want to add something to that proverb:

After falling, the monkeys climb the trees again.

원숭이도 나무에서 떨어진다

2. 아는 길도 물어가라.

Aneun gildo mureogara.

It literally means: “Even if you know the way, ask again.”

Our life might not be changing much compared to last year. There are things we know, there are even many more things we don’t know about. There’s no harm in asking and seeking answers.

This proverb speaks to me personally on how limited my memory and my knowledge are. What I know today might be obsolete tomorrow. So, it’s always better to ask even if (I think) I know something.

Assumption is one of human’s greatest adversaries.

아는 길도 물어가라

3. 시작이 반이다.

Sijagi banida.

It literally means: “Starting is half the task.”

Did you regret last year for not doing things you should have done, but didn’t do?

Did you leave last year with many unfinished tasks on hand?

Do you feel discouraged to take on new responsibility this year because you’re afraid of taking the first step?

Do you feel constant fear for not trying hard enough, achieving the result you’ve expected?

Then this proverb is made exactly for you (and me, of course).

Nobody knows me better than myself. I know that I overthink a lot, procrastinate many times, because I want everything to be perfect at once.

Becoming perfect at first attempt is unlikely to happen, so I’m going to remember again what the wise man used to say:

Done is better than perfect.

And take this last proverb to my heart, to live it day by day. Starting is half the task. Being brave to start, to take THAT FIRST STEP will make me complete the work and getting the result I aim for.

시작이 반이다.

A Hope for a New Year

Do you have a favorite proverb? I hope the three proverbs above will give you courage to walk through this year. Happy (belated) New Year!

새해 복 많이 받으세요.
For surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Happy New Year!


2 thoughts on “Three Korean Proverbs to Start Off the New Year

  1. Loved the proverbs Rijo. In fact Done is better than perfect has been helping me since I heard RM of BTS say it once somewhere. Regarding your second proverb, i wanted to add similar line i heard:
    When you ASSUME, you’re making an ASS of U & ME. So never assume and always clarify for better result.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did RM say that? I heard Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook say it once. Well, I guess the saying has been around for quite some time, haha!

      Assume! Indeed, it makes an a** of everyone. I even made a monolog for it 🤣

      Thanks for stopping by, Pavitra 🙂


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