맥이 풀리다 – Korean Idioms #24

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

After you take a test or give a speech or do whatever makes you nervous, you feel suddenly powerless or out of energy because all of the heavy burden you had to carry was gone. "맥이 풀리다" is the expression to describe this situation.

맥 originally means stem or stream. As nutrients and wastes are delivered through our blood vessels and we become healthy by these system, 맥 has the second meaning, power or energy. 풀리다 means unfold, loosen, untie. I think today's expression, 맥이 풀리다, has something to do with traditional Korean medical treatment, 한의학. Before the doctors analyze the symptoms, they put their hand on your wrist to check the heartbeat. This is called "맥을 짚다." It is said that these heartbeats become different if there are some problems in your body.

If you are nervous, your heartbeat rises, and if comfortable, it decreases. Therefore, after some nervous situation is gone, your heartbeat, 맥, will become less tight or loose or 풀리다 in Korean.

Examples.

영화 찍을 때는 카메라가 많아야 한 두 개인데, 예능을 찍을 때는 여러 개가 한 번에 따라 다니잖아요. 그래서 카메라가 많아서 계속 긴장하고 있다가, 갑자기 카메라가 사라지니까 맥이 확 풀려 버렸어요.
When you take a movie, there are one or two cameras, but in variety shows, several of them are tailing me, so I was constantly nervous because there were so many of them, and suddenly they were all gone, I became powerless.

시험을 보고 집에 돌아 오니 맥이 완전히 풀려서 소파에 누워서 한 두 시간 정도 잔 것 같다.
After I have taken a test and come back home, I lost all of my energy and slept for one or two hours lying on the sofa.

누군가 자신을 기다려 줄 것이라 생각했지만, 아무 것도 없는 것을 보면서 그는 완전히 맥이 풀려 버렸다.
He thought someone would wait for him, but no one was there. He became completely powerless.

Similar Expression

"힘이 풀리다." If you know the song, Mr. Chu, by Apink, you can find that expression in the lyric.