LearnKoreanwith Us!

Start Learning!

Korean Language Blog

Baffled by Idiomatic Expressions? Posted by on Jun 7, 2017 in Korean Language, Vocabulary

Have you ever scratched your head in confusion due to certain expressions in Korean, even though you knew all the words in the expressions? In this post, we will explore some idiomatic expressions that are often used by native Korean speakers.

When I first heard the expression “I will take a rain check” in English, I felt baffled although I knew every single word in this expression. Idiomatic expressions are figurative, so they are hard to understand unless you are familiar with their actual meanings. In this post, I would like to introduce several idiomatic expressions that you will often hear from native Korean speakers. If you enjoy watching Korean dramas or TV shows, you will also hear these expressions frequently.

  • 눈에 콩깍지가 씌다  (basic form): It literally means that a 콩깍지 (bean pod) has been 씌다 (put on) an  (eye). Its actual meaning is that someone is blinded by love and doesn’t see any flaws in the other person. You will hear 눈에 콩깍지가 씌였어 (informal) or눈에 콩깍지가 씌였어요(polite).


  • 기가 막히다  (basic form): It literally means that the (energy flow) in your body 막히다 (is blocked). Interestingly, this expression can be used in opposite situations.

1. The first example is within a negative situation. It can be used when you are speechless or dumbfounded because of an unbelievable situation.

ex) 알렉스는 시험공부를 하나도 했는데 100점을 받았어요.

정말 기가막혀요. 겨우 70 받았는데

(Alex did not study for the test at all, but he scored 100 again.

I am really speechless. I received only 70… – polite form)

2.  The second example is used within a positive situation. It can be used when something is excellent or tastes very delicious.

ex) 너희 엄마 김치는 기가 막혀!

   (Your mother’s Kimchi is unbelievably delicious! – informal form)

      새로 나온 정말 기가 막혀요!

   (That new car is really awesome! – polite form)

  • 눈코 없다 = 눈코 없이 바쁘다 (basic form): It literally means that 눈코 (eyes and a nose) 없이 (no time to open) 바쁘다 (being busy). Its actual meaning is equivalent to “I don’t have time to catch my breath” in English.

ex) A: 요즘 어떻게 지내세요?

                     (How are you doing these days? – polite)

                      B: 눈코 없어요.= 눈코 없이 바빠요.

                      (I don’t have time to catch my breath. – polite)

I hope you won’t have to scratch your head anymore when you hear the above examples next time. When someone asks you “How are you doing these days?” maybe you can use this expression- 없어요. = 눈코 없이 바빠요. (I don’t have time to catch my breath.) instead of just “바빠요. (I am busy.)”

감사합니다! (Thank you!)

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, select the most relevant newsletter(s) for you and sign up below.

Share this:
Pin it

About the Author:Kyung-Hwa

안녕하세요? My name is Kyung-Hwa, and I am a native of South Korea. I am accustomed to both English and Korean languages and cultures. I greatly appreciate and love both of them. I am passionate about learning different languages, and I have studied English, Japanese, and Spanish. In my spare time, I take joy in singing, playing the piano, and reading books. I also enjoy traveling around the world, meeting people, and embracing new cultures and languages...