근묵자흑(近墨者黑) – Korean 4 Character Idioms #27

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With Explanation

It is easier for us to get bad habits than good ones. If we get along with some bad friends, it will make us get some bad habits faster. The word, 근묵자흑, warns us not to do so.

근 means near. 묵 means ink stick. 자 means person. 흑 means black or dark. The basic meaning of 근묵자흑 is that "the person near the ink will become black." The color black here is used figuratively for crime or wrong deeds. If you are close to bad friends, it is likely that you will become bad like them. It is a warning for that undesirable result.

Examples

근묵자흑이라 했어. 친구 사귈 때는 꼭 조심하도록 해.
It is said that you can become bad if you are close to bad friends. Beware when you make new friends.

근묵자흑이라며 부모들은 자주 친구의 중요성에 대해 아이들에게 이야기하지만, 정작 부모 자신이 그런 나쁜 친구의 역할을 할 수 있다는 것은 잘 모르는 것 같다.
The parents emphasize the importance of friends by saying that they can affect your whole life, but they don't realize that they can play the role of such bad friends to them.

연구 대상 학생들의 성적이 그 학생의 친구들의 성적과 밀접한 관련이 있다는 연구 결과를 읽게 되었다. 근묵자흑이라는 말이 떠올랐다.
I read the result of a research that the grades of the students are closely related to the grades of his friends. That reminded me of the proverb, he who touches pitch shall be defiled therewith.