I need to specify two things: first thing is that I don't know any Korean so I actually have no idea, still I got english subtitles for this audio:

"I hate it when people tell me what to do. It's up to me whether I work or lurk". Since I don't really get the meaning of this english translation I'd like to hear some other possible translations.

Some frame: there's a girl who lost her memory and got lost. She is found by two relatives and gets back home with them. The following day the relatives need to go to work and the girl will stay home. When leaving one of the relatives says this sentence.

I think that the "work" would be figurative, i.e. like getting busy in something, could it be so? I'd read this as an invitation to have some rest...

2 Answers 2


Given the context I think it's a pun.

"X를 하든 Y를 하든" means "whether [I] do X or Y". So, a direct translation of "일을 하든 저를 하든" could be "whether I do work(일) or do that(저)".

However, 저를 하든 is a pretty awkward expression by itself: it could mean "whether I do that(저)", but that's a bit of stretch, because normally you'd use "저것을 하든".

But then, the first part, "일을 하든", has an identical sound as "를 하든", which could mean "whether I do this". I think it's still awkward by itself, but it plays on 이(this)/저(that) which is a common pair and actually appears in many common expressions:

이거나 저거나 = whether this or that (there's not much difference)

이놈이나 저놈이나 똑같다 = This person, that person, they're all the same. (Usually means you're unsatisfied with them.)

이도 저도 아니다 = this is neither here or there (literally, neither this or that).

So, the speaker is starting with "whether I work", and then uses this 이/저 pair to make a pun, making the phrase to sound like "whether I do this or that", i.e., "whatever I do".

Apparently the translator thought the same, that's why they used "whether I work or lurk": note that work and lurk rhyme, preserving the pun-like nature. The exact meaning of "lurk" isn't important here, because the main idea of the sentence is just that "Whatever I do it's none of your business".

(Although, given that you were quite confused about the translation, maybe lurk wasn't the best decision...)

  • Definitely the best and precise answer that is supposed to get the most upvotes. It's basically a play on words to emphasize his/her anger. Sep 9, 2018 at 18:59
  • The sound [이를 하든 저를 하든] can be understood as either “일을 하든 절을 하든” or “이를 하든 저를 하든” (though the word does not actually exist), but that's not important at all since the both can mean “Whatsoever I do” in this context. This is one of the famous Korean ways to emphasizing things. Sep 9, 2018 at 19:03

It is like angrily arguing in korean. It can be translated like I disgust you or somebody to say do this,do that. Wether I work,wether I bow (there is a typo here,and this is a significial meaning in Korean.) I Will do it on my will!

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