Proverb – Korean

?                ?             ?             ???               ???? ?

fire              no            burn             chimney             smoke

“Can smoke rise from the chimney, when there’s no fire?”

Joseph learned this proverb from an older sister while growing up in a small rural town in Korea.  He was playing with his friend after school when his mom came up to him and told him to go home.  She was angry with him and didn’t want him to stay out any longer.  When Joseph went home later, he was frustrated with his mom and complained to his sister about the unfair situation.  His sister simply replied with the proverb, telling him that nothing happens without a cause.  Just as there can’t be smoke without a fire, events can’t occur without a cause.  Behind every situation, there is a source.  Therefore, as his sister claimed, there must be reason why he wasn’t allowed to go out anymore.

As Joseph learned later, he was forbidden from playing after school because he had been misbehaving in school.  His mother had received a phone call from the teacher as a result of his disruptive actions in class.  Just as the proverb stated, there was a reason behind his mother’s actions.  It was in response to his uncooperative behavior in school.  Therefore, Joseph had no one else to blame but himself.

Though this proverb doesn’t exist in English, its message plays a significant role in American culture.  It teaches individuals to be analytical while looking at different circumstances and encourages them to look at situations with a cause and effect mindset while keeping in mind that their own actions will have significant consequences.  It prepares individuals for the business world and creates a generation of people with critical minds.  Therefore, the proverb is largely used as a tool to advance the situations of individuals in America.  However, in Korea, the proverb is used more commonly to explain a situation in order to understand it.  Therefore, a difference exists between the cultures and their potential uses of the proverb.