To See Is To Believe

My informant is a 24-year-old foreign exchange student who was raised in South Korea his whole life.

I asked my informant if he had any proverbs that he could share with me. I was curious to see what I could learn about Korean culture by hearing his proverbs. I was surprised by the first proverb that came to his mind. He told me that this proverb is very popular in Korea and is widely used.

Informant: “The proverb is, “to see is to believe”. This is what it means in Korean, but if you translate to English it means more like, “Watching one time is better than listening 100 times. And it just means that I can tell you something 100 times and you will not understand until I actually show it to you. It also can mean to not trust the words until you see the action”.

Analysis: I thought this was really interesting because the first proverb that he told me was something that I have heard many times in America. This proverb is not limited to just Korea. It was also interesting that the Korean version is close to the English version, if not the exact same, while the translation offers a different reading. The meanings are very close but the translation seems to have a more direct connotation.