대기만성 – Korean 4 Character Idioms(사자성어) #2

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

We all know at least one or two people who overcame their long hardship and became victorious at last. Actually, almost every successful person has a similar story.

Today's expression "대기만성" can be used to describe these people. The basic meaning of 대기만성 is "it takes long time to make a big plate." This expression wants to say that magnificent and successful people are not made quickly like big plates. As we say "rome wasn't built in a day" in English, successful people are not made in a day, too.

This expression was first told by Laozi to describe how hard it is to understand and follow tao. His original intention in speaking "long time to make a big plate" was "it is almost impossible." However, a few hundreds of years later, in 3 Kingdoms Period, Cui Yan had a younger cousin who didn't do well in anything and didn't have a decent job. So everyone looked down on him, but Cui Yan saw his potential and told him, "Big bells or big pots are not made easily. It takes long time for good people to be successful. Don't be discouraged and try hard. You will surely success." He really followed his advice and became one of the 3 secretaries of the emperor later. From then, 대기만성 got the meaning of "late success."

Examples

유재석은 매년 방송대상을 받을 정도로 인기 있는 연예인이라 다들 처음부터 잘했을 거라고 생각한다. 하지만 그는 대기만성형 연예인이다. 긴 무명 시절 동안 꾸준히 노력했기 때문에 지금과 같은 대스타가 된 것이다.
Yoo Jaeseok is a really popular TV star who gets the broadcasting grand prize every year, so everyone thinks that he did well from the start. However, it took him long time to become a person like that. He tried his best constantly for a long time when he was nobody, and he became a great entertainer like now as a result.

대다수의 게임들은 초반에 반짝 인기를 끈 다음에 계속 사용자가 줄어들다가 결국 사라진다. 하지만 이 게임은 처음에는 별로였는데 계속 사람들이 늘어난다. 대기만성이라는 말이 딱 들어맞는다.
Most games becomes popular for a short period of time at first and users are constantly decreasing on and on and finally disappear. However, this game was not so good at first, but the users are increasing constantly. This game is a great example of the late success.

아인슈타인은 태어나면서부터 천재였을 것 같지만, 4살에 말을 하기 시작했고, 7살이 되어서야 글을 읽을 수 있게 되었다고 한다. 그는 천재라기보다는 대기만성형 인재에 가깝다.
We may guess that Einstein was a genius since his birth, but he started to talk when he was 4 years old and he could read when he was 7. If we put them all together, he is not a genius but a plodding person.

Additional Resources