한 수 위 – Korean Idioms #10

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

When someone is better at something, we can simply say that "he is better at something than her," but we can also say that "he is one step ahead of her." The same expression in Korean is "한 수 위."

This expression came from 바둑, go. When you play go, you should estimate your opponent's next move and decide the right position for your next stone. This is called 수 읽기 in Korean. If you can guess more steps correctly than your opponent, you are going to win the game. This guess works can be a measure of your go skills.

So, if 철수 can estimate more steps than 영희, then he is better at go than 영희. That's why 한 수 위 became "being better at something."

As you know, 위 means up and 아래 means down, so the opposite of 한 수 위 is 한 수 아래.

Examples

철수의 바둑 실력이 나보다 한 수 아래라 생각했는데 의외로 아니었다.
I first thought that 철수's go skills are one step behind of me. To my surprise, it was not true.

두 팀의 성적을 비교해 보면, 내가 응원하는 팀이 영희가 응원하는 팀보다 실력이 한 수 위라는 것을 알 수 있다.
Comparing the results of two teams, the team I root for is better than the team 영희 does.

어떻게 그런 생각을 했어? 역시 네가 나보다 한 수 위야.
How did you come up with something like that? You are surely one step ahead of me.

One More Note

If you want to emphasize the gap of your skills, you can change 한, meaning one, to 몇, meaning several. Let's see an example.

3년 전만 해도 내가 그 아이보다 몇 수 위였는데, 지금은 나랑 실력이 비슷하거나 그 아이가 조금 더 나은 것 같다. 많이 자만했나보다.
I was a few step ahead of him only 3 years ago, but now his levels of skills are similar to me or a little bit better than me. I guess I was too arrogant.