일사천리(一瀉千里) – Korean 4 Character Idioms #17

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

It is hard to start a new work, but once we start it, it is usually quick and easy to end it. 일사천리 is the word for this quickness.

일 means one or once. 사 means pour or flow. 천리 means one thousand 리. 리 is an old measurement unit of the distance, 1 리 is 0.4 km or about one fourth miles, so the exact distance of 천리 is 400 km or 250 miles. However, in this word, 천리 is used in figurative sense, meaning long distance. Therefore, the basic meaning of 일사천리 is once it starts to flow, it goes a long way. Like this water, we can use this word to describe the fast progress of works.

Examples

내가 만든 제품을 처음으로 한 개 파는 것은 무척 어려웠는데, 하나가 팔리고 나니 나머지는 일사천리로 팔렸다.
It was really hard to sell one box of my product at first, but once it sold, the rest sold out with a great speed.

경보기만 제 때 울렸다면 화재 진압과 대피가 일사천리로 진행되었을텐데, 그렇지 못해서 피해가 커졌다.
If the warning rang on time, the fire fighting and the evacuation might be ended with a great speed, but it didn't, so the damage became bigger.

이 요리를 언제 다 만드나 했는데, 재료를 다 썰고 난 후 보니, 더 할 것이 없었다. 그래서 나머지 과정을 일사천리로 끝냈다.
I worried how I can finish cooking this food. After chopping the ingredients down, there was nothing more to do, so I finished the rest quickly.