Korean Idioms & Proverbs: 남의 떡이 더 커 보이다
To finish of the weekend I want wrap things up with another proverb. The proverb I randomly picked, is: 남의 떡이 더 커 보이다. The observant reader will notice that this proverb contains a grammar topic I also discussed today: 어/아 보이다. That was entirely coincidental. Anyway it is time to look at our neighbours rice cakes because I think theirs are bigger.
The proverb “남의 떡이 더 커 보이다” will probably be the proverb you will have the least amount of difficulties with. The meaning of this Korean idiom is completely the same as a very common and well-known English idiom: “The grass always looks greener on the other side”. While in the Korean proverb rice cakes are bigger, the essence remains the same. We use this proverb to warn we ought not to be envious of others seemingly having things better since that is most likely based on assumptions on your part. As I said it is just the same as “The grass always looks greener on the other side”.
However, there is a distinct use to this proverb you must keep in mind. The proverb “남의 떡이 더 커 보이다” is only used when you are making a comparison between objects. There are other proverbs when you are comparing things such as ability or wealth.
Unlike a lot of Korean proverbs, this proverb comes with a fixed verb, being “커 보이다” which means “To look bigger”. Therefore to use it, you will only have to conjugate 보이다 in whatever form to make sense in your sentence. Things really cannot get any easier than that, now can they?
Example: 이웃이 새로운 자동차를 운전하지만 저는 오래된 차를 운전해요. 아, 남의 떡이 더 커 보여요.
Translation: My neighbour drives a new car, but I drive an old car. Ah, the grass is greener on the other side.
Have you seen this expression before? Or perhaps you’ve used it in a text you’ve written yourself! Please share your experience in the comments. You can more easily learn expressions when you actively use them yourself.