The translation I have for '신권' in '회장은 회장이로되 신권은 없다' is

while it’s true that he’s the chairman, he has no power.

I'm not sure this is right though - naver says 신권 is divine right - 신이 내려 준 권력.

So I'm wondering if the meaning is more like

while it’s true that he’s the chairman, he can't do everything.

What would be a good English translation here?

3 Answers 3


'신권' is the power granted by the god. It gives one the right to order anybody to do anything. A chairman in Korean culture is a person with a lot of power, and often above the law. However, he or she is not a god.

I would translate it as

He is the chairman alright, but he is no god.

  • 1
    This is a very natural translation in English, and captures the nuance beautifully.
    – Michaelyus
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 11:29

Are you sure that it means "divine right"? 신권 could also mean "new bills" (that haven't been used yet), like a fresh dollar/won bill.

Also it seems there's a term 신권주 related to stocks, but I have zero knowledge of corporate accounting, so I'm not sure what it means. (It might be just a typo of "실권주" which seems to be another stock-related term.)

  • Edit: Just occurred to me that it could also be a typo of "실권", which means "actual power". In that case, the sentence would mean:

    Even though he's the chairman, he has no real power.

  • 1
    the typo theory is quite possible! Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 6:30
  • '실권' would be more natural indeed.
    – Memming
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 19:00
  • Yeah, the only time I saw the word 신권 (divine right) was in a history textbook talking about European monarchs, so I think it's a rather odd choice of word to use with a CEO.
    – jick
    Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 4:51

I know this question is old, but here's one thing I think I must add.


It sounds Mormon. I can bet that it's Mormon. And my translation is:

He's a president, but he doesn't have priesthood.

Long Answer

In a modern Korean context, the most probable situation where one can hear "신권" and "회장" in the same sentence would be Mormon (or of the Latter Day Saints).

Maybe this is too much of a personal experience (skip this paragraph if you don't want to hear any), but I never heard the two words in one sentence outside of a Mormon context. (Not a LDS myself, but have some friends in the Korean LDS church.) Actually I think I never heard the word 신권 at all before I met these Mormon friends. I was born a Presbyterian, now Catholic, but that sentence sounds very unnatural in either side of Christendom. Only Mormons would imagine such a sentence.

In a Mormon context, 신권 is the translation for priesthood (I won't be discussing the concept itself here, but if you need an English reference, see link), and 회장 is the translation for president (English reference). Both are everyday words of LDS missionaries. I think the LDSs would understand "회장" in a neutral context as the president, the guy at the top level of church hierarchy (like a Catholic pope), but it may refer to any president of various sub-organizations in the church. (Correct me if there's a LDS in the community.)

I think LDS theology (or church structure) requires one to have "priesthood" in order to hold most church offices called "presidents," so maybe the speaker of the sentence is casting doubt of his authority.

Another point supporting my theory is the use of the postposition "-로되". It is one of the words that are being more and more outdated (or should I say archaic). But it is widely used in the New Korean Revised Version (개역개정) of the Bible. I met some foreign missionaries in Korea who learnt Korean from that translation of the Bible, using the word "-로되" in colloquial speech.

  • 1
    Very interesting! We would need to see how the English-speaking equivalent faith community words the same roles: I would expect "but he is not in the priesthood" to make it grammatically correct, though.
    – Michaelyus
    Commented Feb 28, 2019 at 17:23
  • Wow I'd never have guessed... very interesting indeed.
    – jick
    Commented Mar 1, 2019 at 3:06

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