While at a coffee shop, I said to my native korean friend

돈이 왔어 The money came in (by itself)

...and the reply was a bewildered, "어?"; however, when the armored car guard passed by our table with the big bag of money (for the cashier of the coffee shop of course, not for us :( unfortunately), my friend realized what i meant and corrected me

돈 가지러 왔어 (He) is coming to bring the money in

... Yes, of course that was what I was referring to; and yet, I meant to enjoy the language construct of the personfication of the money itself "coming in". In my world, personification makes conversation more fun and interesting. But then it hit me:

Maybe Koreans don't personify.

  • Is personification used in Korean (written/spoken)?
  • Is there a category of 국어 reserved to this discussion as in English class?
  • What are some everyday examples of personification that might be understood (unlike my personification of money entering the store on its own accord)?
  • 1
    Um.... I think you mean 돈 가지고 왔어
    – Lemon
    Jan 12, 2018 at 4:39
  • That's how my native korean friend spelled it, but i think you have a point...it seems wrong. I'll bet it's 가지려 (she 100% didn't say 가지고 though she might have said 가지로, but when i showed her the question she had me change it to 가지러...so it wasn't what i meant, it was what 한 한국 여자 meant). Jan 12, 2018 at 5:05

2 Answers 2


(As always) Native Korean here :)

Well, personification can be translated into 의인화 or 의인법, which is widely used in Korean literature and figure of speech.

In Korean language however, 의인화 is usually only used in certain forms or idioms, not like the example(of money coming in) you gave above.

Since you asked for examples, here they are :

  • 비가 창문을 두드린다.(Rain is drumming the window.)
  • 파도가 잔뜩 성이 나 있다.(The waves are full of anger.)
  • 연필이 자꾸만 도망간다.(The pencil keeps running away. <-meaning that you lose your pencil very often)

There are probably tens of thousands more examples that are widely used in everyday life. However, it is true that Koreans have a tendency to talk about things 'directly' without any add-ons such as personification...

You will be able to find a lot of personification in any type of literature from poems to even newspapers, but it will be difficult to hear a Korean use it in daily life. :P


Here's a random newspaper article from Joongang Ilbo, one of Korean major newspapers: 돈이 돈을 낳는다... 한국 백만장자 20만명 돌파, 투자수익률은 24.3%. Since the title literally says "Money gives birth to money," maybe I can say that Koreans sometimes personify money. (Someone might want to argue that this is not personification but just zoomorphism.)

Personally I will also feel it be fun and interesting to use personifications in daily conversations!

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