The Korea Herald


[Korea Quiz] Would you rather be a ‘fox’ or a ‘bear’?

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Sept. 6, 2023 - 13:49

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Find the answer at the bottom of the page.

As in many other languages, the Korean language has slang terms involving various animals.

For a person to be likened to a fox in Korean, it means that person is sly and cunning. While “foxy” in the English language also has such a meaning, it is more commonly used to refer to an attractive woman.

The opposite of a fox in Korea would be a bear, which refers to a person who is slow-witted and not skilled in reading the room. Fox and bear euphemisms are also used for women, with a “fox” referring to a quick-witted or even flirty woman, while a “bear” refers to someone who is honest but not very intuitive.

The bear euphemism can also be used for men -- although fox not so much -- but the more commonly used animal slang term for men is "wolf." Calling a man a wolf means that he displays predatory behavior in a romantic relationship, often being sexually overactive and prone to cheating on his partner.

Likening a person, usually a child, to a tree frog derives from an old cautionary folktale. Once upon a time there lived two tree frogs, a mother and her son. The son always did the opposite of what he was told. Knowing her son’s temperament, the mother told her son to bury her next to a stream, thinking he would do the opposite.

Upon his mother’s death, the son felt remorse and carried out her last wish. Henceforth, every time it rained, the son would cry out of fear that her mother’s grave would be swept away by the water.

"Dogs and cows” have a somewhat peculiar meaning. When someone says, “even dogs and cows are doing something,” it means that a certain action has become so common that even those who are usually unequipped or unqualified to carry it out are now doing it.

Answer: d