Joy of Korean! How Big is Your Bowl?

Korean phrase of the day:

Ggumae keugiga geu saramae geureuseul junghanda | 꿈의크기가 그사람의 그릇을 정한다

Translation: The size of one’s dream determines the size of one’s bowl/capacity

Similar phrase in English: You’ll only be as big as your dream.

The ‘size of one’s bowl’ is the Korean way to describe someone’s potential or capability. To talk about someone’s bowl or vessel as small or large is similar to how we describe someone’s low or high ceiling (potential for success) as opposed their floor (risk of failure).

This phrase is not very common but was recently heard on the hit drama Itaewon Class. It hit a chord with the audience because it seems to be a fresh take on the more common Korean belief that the size of one’s bowl determines all, meaning that potential is an innate trait. However, in the drama, Yi-Seo tells her boss that because his dream is so big, his ability or capacity will grow to match that dream. The girl is only 20 years old but since she has an IQ of 160, such wisdom coming from her is not surprising!

How big is your bowl? Or should we ask, how big is your dream? ?

Key words:

꿈 Ggum = Dream

크기 Keugi = Size

사람 Saram = Person

그릇 Geureut = Bowl


Itaewon Class is currently showing on Netflix. Here’s a little preview:

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