Idiomatic Korean Expressions Related to Weather

[한국어]

Just as English-speaking countries say “It rains like cats and dogs” to refer to heavy rain, there are several creative expressions in each country to indicate their own weather. Korea, which has four very distinct seasons in a year, also possesses diverse expressions related to its weather. Many of those expressions try to show how cold it is in winter and how hot it is in summer, rather than cool and warm weather in spring or autumn.

Korea’s summer begins to show its unimaginably hot weather from the end of July; August is the climax of its hotness. For July and August, the temperature usually reaches around 37C (about 99F). The sun is so strong that you begin to sweat after standing outside for three minutes. Korean people call this hot weather “steamer weather.” A steamer is a cooking utensil to cook food with steam – it is similar to a rice cooker. So, when people are outside for a longtime in summer, they say “Oh, I feel like I’m in a rice cooker!”

Apart from its terribly hot weather, Korea’s summer is also known for its large amount of rainfall. More than 70% of Korea’s precipitation can be attributed to rains in June, July and August. When the rainy season starts, the heavy rain does not stop for a few days, and looking at such heavy rain, Koreans say “there must be a huge hole in the sky.” It is an interesting expression!

In contrast to this rainy and hot weather of summer, Korea’s winter is freezing cold. The average temperature in January is about -4 C (25F). Because of Siberian air masses, it is also windy, and Koreans call this winter wind “knife wind.” Because the wind is so fast and threatening, it feels like a blade of a knife is passing you when you are facing such wind.

Related to the wind, there is another expression: “my flank is cold.” This expression indicates both the fact that one does not have a boyfriend (or a girlfriend) and that one feels sorry to himself. If someone has a lover then he/she always walks very close to them, so his/her side does not face the cold wind. However, if someone does not have a lover then he/she usually walks alone, and his/her side is exposed to the cold wind. This expression is widely used among young people, and you can easily find it on internet.

In addition to these, to refer many people’s handclaps Koreans use “big applause like a thunderstorm.” It seems that as weather has great influence on people’s lives, there are many idiomatic expressions related to weather.

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