반신반의(半信半疑) – Korean 4 Character Idioms #19

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

When we listen to some news, we usually believe what we have heard, but sometimes it is hard to believe it. There still seems to be something unclear around the news. In this case, we are in the situation of half believing and half doubting.

Two 반s in 반신반의 means half. 신 means trust, 의 means doubt, so 반신반의 means half believing, half doubting. In other words, it is hard to believe something there are still something suspicious. In those situations, many people say that "I cannot believe it" in English, but by saying 반신반의, Koreans want to show that there are still something I can trust in what you said.

Examples

10년 전 전쟁에서 죽은 것으로 알려진 그가 살아있다고 다들 이야기하길래 반신반의했는데, 그가 보낸 선물을 보니 그가 살아 있기는 한 것 같다.
It is said that he is dead in the war which was in 10 years ago. I couldn't believe it when everyone said that he is still alive. After I saw his presents given to me, I started to believe that he is alive.

네 말이 사실이라는 것을 믿고 싶어도 네 말이 사실이 아니라는 증거가 너무 많아서 우선은 반신반의 할 수밖에 없겠다.
No matter how much I want to trust what you said to me, there are so many proofs that it is not true, so I cannot help doubting it now.

너답지 않게 왜 그런 이야기를 듣고 반신반의하는 건데? 말이 안 되는 것이 당연한 거잖아!
Why are you suspecting after you heard about it. It's not like you. It's obvious that it doesn't make sense at all.