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우리 전략군은 언제 실전으로 번져질지 모를 준엄한 정세의 요구에 맞게 고도의 격동상태를 유지하고 일단 명령이 내리면 즉시즉각에 화성포마다 멸적의 불줄기를 뿜을 수 있게 기동준비, 진지준비, 기술준비, 타격준비를 빈틈없이 갖추고 있다.

In this example, what does 번져질지 모르다 mean and what construction does -질지 모를 have? Is this the same as ᄅ줄 모를?

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  • Maybe it's just me, but I'm feeling I am seeing a lot of North Korean stuff in this community. This phrase is something that you would find it very rare to say in South Korea. It's not just because what it means, but its phrases are very "north"
    – fosinsight
    Apr 26, 2021 at 20:12

2 Answers 2

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They differ. What you mentioned at the end, 하다 + ㄹ줄 모르다 = ~ 할 줄 모르다 = don't know how to do ~

ie.) 수영 할 줄 모르다 = don't know how to swim (not 'knowing' in doing something)

this is different from 하다 + ㄹ지 모르다 = ~ 할지 모른다 = unsure if ~ will happen

ie.) 그가 내일 올지 모른다 = unsure if he will come tomorrow (uncertain about events in future). ㄹ지 모르다 usually come as ㄹ지도 모르다 as well.

Here is link from National Institue of Korean Language specifically about this. https://www.korean.go.kr/front/onlineQna/onlineQnaView.do?mn_id=216&qna_seq=140750

Thank you and good luck!

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First of all, note that 번져질지 모를 is wrong, it sounds a little weird to me. Its construction is 번져지- of 번져지다 and -ㄹ지 모를. But 번져지다 is not standard language. The correct word is 번지다. In the sentence, 번져지다 seems like a passive form of 번지다, but this passive form is unnecessary, because 번지다 is already intransitive verb. So I recommend 번질지 모를, which is more natural.

Now let's look at the construction. Basically, -ㄹ지 모르다 means just 'don't know'.

해보기 전에는 어떤 결과가 나올지 모른다.

You don't know the outcome before you try.

오늘 뭘 먹을지 모르겠다.

I don't know what to eat today.

So, 언제 실전으로 번질지 모를 준엄한 정세의 요구 means that the speaker doesn't know when 준엄한 정세의 요구 becomes the imminent actual fight. In this case, the speaker manifests that he is considering both possibilities where it will happen of not, and he is emphasizing the importance of careful preparation for the war. In many times, -ㄹ지 모르다 tends to be used to express the 'risk' of future, just like the sentence you gave. And here is one more example.

언제 아버지가 올지 모르는데 계속 기다릴 거니?

So you will wait for your dad even though you don't know when he comes?

-ᄅ 줄 모르다 means 'be not able to'. Basically, 줄 means 'way'. So -ㄹ 줄 모르다 means that 'don't know the way', so it eventually means 'be not able to'. The antonym of this is -ㄹ 줄 알다, which means 'be able to'.

But note that 줄 is a bound noun, which cannot be used indepedently. Koreans use -ㄹ 줄 모르다 and -ㄹ 줄 알다 just as a bunch of words, even without realizing their basic meaning, they don't even realize the accurate meaning of 줄 as a bound noun.

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