옥석을 가리다 – Korean Idioms #30

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

When you recruit people, you want to test the applicants and find out the good and skillful from the bad and clumsy, because the resource is limited and we cannot hire everyone. Sometimes in English, this testing process is called "discriminating gems from pebbles." It is called "옥석을 가리다" in Korean.

옥석 is 옥 and 석. 옥 is jade, a kind of jewelry or gemstone. 석 is a stone, it means all kinds of stones, so 옥 is also a kind of 석. If we put them all together, 옥석 means jades and/or stones. 가리다 means pick up, evaluate, or discriminate. Therefore, 옥석을 가리다 means "taking jades from ordinary stones," and "discriminating gems(in this case, jades or 옥) from pebbles or ordinary stones or 석."

Examples

이 마지막 문제로 옥석을 가릴 생각이다.
I will discriminate gems from pebbles by this last question.

시험이 너무 쉬우면 옥석을 가리기가 쉽지 않기 때문에 어렵게 내는 것이다.
If the test is too easy, it becomes hard to discriminate gems from pebbles, so I make it hard.

지원자들 실력이 너무 뛰어나서 옥석을 가리는 것이 의미가 없다.
The ability of the participants are so good that it has no meaning to discriminate gems from pebbles between them.