Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Some time ago, I saw an advertisement inside a subway train. It caught my eyes because it was special in that it uses Korean proverbs to sell its message. Proverbs which are associated with great ease and benefits are printed all over the advertisement space. Basically, the marketing message is you can have your cake and eat it and that you can do it with great ease.

There are 3 new proverbs about benefit which I learned incidentally from looking at that advertisement.

1. 누이 좋고 매부 좋다 - Both sister and brother-in-law like it.
It is used to describe a win-win situation which is mutually beneficial to both parties concern.

누이: A term used by man to refer to his sister or female cousin (in the same household)
매부: A term used by man to refer to his sister's or female cousin's husband or sister-in-law's husband.

2. 도랑 치고 가재 잡는다 - Catching crayfish while clearing the ditch.
It means getting 2 benefits from just doing 1 job. In the proverb, the task is clearing the ditch and the benefits are a cleared ditch and crayfish for dinner.

도랑: ditch or drain
가재: crayfish

3. 꿩 먹고 알 먹는다 - Eating the pheasant as well as the eggs.
It means getting 2 or more benefits from just doing 1 job. Isn't it good to have both grilled pheasant and omelette for dinner?

뀡: pheasant
알: egg

I believe in this adage - "If it is too good, then it is too good to be true." I will not even bother to ask the question, "If it is so good, why don't you keep it for yourself." Because any question can always be answered convincingly by others who are out to deceive me. In short, just don't be too greedy.


  1. May I know whether 누이 & 매부 is uttered by a man or woman? Or both? Like the distinction between 누나 & 언니. I get teased at sometimes for describing a relative with words not meant for use by opposite sex. Dictionaries sometimes didn't specify. 복잡해 :S

  2. 누이 & 매부 are used by man. I have updated their explanation in the post after verifying with Korean dictionary.