I just read a book and see that line about "peel the pumpkin seed" that doesn't fit the context.

I also tried to look it up on naver dict and it seems to means something like "a two faced that pretends to not do that(?)"

Can someone explain it?

2 Answers 2


According to Korean Wiktionary ,호박씨를 까다 means pretending not doing something (bad) despite he/she really did it.


1) 그는 뒤로 호박씨 깐다 He does something in people's back

When we do together something, then we must share our feeling. But when someone do something behind which is bad for us or for a fixed man, for instance, blaming, we say 그는 호박씨 깐다.

At a glance, he pretends usual person or noble but in the back he do weird, furtive, being really worthy to himself, or shameful behavior.

Note that it is not a crime like killing or robber. For instance, talking behind my back, stealing one dollar, damage of one flower, and so on.

Origin : Some wife ate pumpkin seed because of hunger, but husband found the shell of pumpkin only. This is sad : Even though she tried to eat all seeds secretly, but it is discovered. But nowadays the idiom is used in negative meaning. Further, note that shell of pumpkin can not be digested so that we can find it in toilet. Hence we can not cover bad behaviors.

2) Add :

호박씨 깐다더니, 항상 착하게만 보이던 문식이가 그런 고자질을 했더라고.

I did not believe the proverb that people peel the pumpkin seed, but Moonsik, who is always seen as an obedient boy, tell such taletelling

얌전한 줄 알았는데 남자들을 그렇게나 많이 만나 왔다니, 호박씨 깠구나.

She, known as a gentle lady, met a lots of men until now. She really peeled the pumpkin seed.

호박씨 깐다고 네 남편은 안 그렇다고 장담 할수 있니 ?

Anybody peels the pumpkin so that how can you pronounce that your husband is not in the fault ?

  • Can we be sure about the origin? There is a persuasive argument about the idiom. I admit that most people interpret this idiom as "to talk behind (one's) back," or "to pretend that (someone) has done nothing bad"; however, we should consider uncertainty as people may believe specious origins definite.
    – Klmo
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 20:35
  • Hmm, to be honest, both stories sound suspect - also, neither story shows any verifiable reference...
    – jick
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 23:51

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