떡 줄 사람은 생각도 없는데 김칫국부터 마신다
This idiom warns against MAKING ASSUMPTIONS
It literally means ‘to drink the kimchi soup before being offered rice cake‘. So what’s wrong with that I asked myself when I first read it. It sounds like it could be about making a faux pas but it’s really to do with making assumptions. In other words, ‘don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.’
Like a baked sweet potato, rice cake is quite hard to eat without a drink. It can feel a bit dry and gets stuck in your throat if you’re not careful…
So traditionally kimchi soup was served with the rice cake to wash it down and help with digestion. So if you drink the kimchi soup you are assuming that you are going to be offered some rice cake.
The idiom can be used in all sorts of situations. For example an office worker assumes she is going to be promoted so she goes off to the shops and buys a new outfit to look the part. And then she moves into a more expensive flat assuming that her soon-to-be higher salary will cover it. But she doesn’t get the promotion after all.
She drank the kimchi soup before being offered rice cake.
This is quite a long idiom but it can be shortened. Just as in English where you can simply say ‘don’t count your chickens‘ in Korean you can say 김칫국 부터 마시지마 ‘don’t drink the kimchi soup first‘.
This book has all the idioms you will ever need…