따 놓은 당상 – Korean Idioms #25

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

If getting something is too easy or apparent for you, it is called "따 놓은 당상" or "떼어 놓은 당상" in Korean.

따다 means pick or pluck, and 당상 is a high level government post in Joseon Dynasty. 놓다 is to take it down. So, "따 놓은 당상" means "The good and high level post is picked or brought to you," or "That good place is reserved for you."

Another way of saying "따 놓은 당상" is "떼어 놓은 당상." 떼다 in "떼어 놓은 당상" means detach or take off. As a result, "떼어 놓은 당상" means "we detached that place from the whole and reserved it for you."

In either way, it means "it is apparent" or "a piece of cake."

Examples

아무리 장사가 안 되도, 하루에 1000원 정도 버는 것은 떼어 놓은 당상이다.
If my goods doesn't sell well, it is apparent for me to earn 1000 won a day.

너 정도 실력이면, 서울대는 따 놓은 당상 아니야?
With your ability, isn't it a piece of cake for you to enter Seoul National University?

이번 시험에서 1등은 따 놓은 당상이라고 생각했는데, 결과를 보니 2등이었다. 무슨 일이지?
I thought that I can surely get the first place, but the result was the second. What happened?

The difference between 따 놓은 당상 and 식은 죽 먹기

Some of you might have known the expression, "식은 죽 먹기" as "piece of cake" in English. That naturally made you wonder the difference between "따 놓은 당상" and "식은죽 먹기". In most cases, they are interchangeable. However, in some cases, you cannot use 따 놓은 당상 in the place of "식은 죽 먹기."

Example

1부터 100까지 종이 위에 적는 일은 식은 죽 먹기이다. (O)
1부터 100까지 종이 위에 적는 일은 따 놓은 당상이다. (X)
It is a piece of cake to write 1 to 100 on a sheet of paper.

In this case, you can use "식은 죽 먹기" but you cannot use "따 놓은 당상." "식은 죽 먹기" came from the experience that it is easy to eat that cold 죽, a Korean porridge, so it emphasizes the ease of action. "따 놓은 당상" came from the reserved place for you, so it emphasizes the prize or reward that will be given to you unless something extremely odd happens.

In our example, writing 1 to 100 is not a reward, you will get nothing from it. It is just an easy work, so you cannot use the expression, "따 놓은 당상" in this place.

As "식은 죽 먹기" has broader meaning, using "식은 죽 먹기" is safer if you don't know what to use.