I was watching a Korean comedy movie, and for each of the main characters there was a freeze frame with "vital statistics" (Name, Title, Hobbies, etc.)

For one of the women, there was an entry that read as follows (the spacing between words may be off — I'm not practiced in interpreting that):

특기 : 남자가려서 먹기 그런데 아직 못먹었다는 것

Here are some auto translations I got that varied depending on how I divided the phrase:

Speciality: Eating because a man is [hiding/covered], but she hasn't eaten yet

Specialty: Eating with men covering up, but that he hasn't eaten yet

Speciality: Eating because men are covered, but that he hasn't eaten yet

For context, this is a romantic/sex comedy movie, and the main characters' relationships with men are a central topic.

My best attempt at an interpretation is something along the lines of:

She can't find a man to eat with, so she eats by herself because she hasn't eaten yet

But that doesn't make that much sense. How far off am I?

2 Answers 2


All the translations are wrong on "eating with/because". 남자 가려서 먹기 means "eating choice men" or "connoisseuring men" - "men" is the direct object of 먹기, which of course doesn't mean literal eating but "having" in the sense of finding, conquering, and owning. 가리다 here doesn't mean covering or hiding but screening, and -서 in 가려서 here describes the manner of how you do something, not reason. 음식을 가려(서) 먹다 for example means being picky about food (it is what this sentence is patterned after). 먹다 is sometimes used in this (rather crass) sense of conquering, grabbing, profiting or owning something, like in sexcapades or money dealings. It is a slang term in not so good taste but used a lot in certain circles.

So the conveyed meaning is:

특기: 남자 가려서 먹기, 그런데 아직 못 먹었다는 것. (with proper spacing and punctuation)

Specialty: Having choice men [or "Finding good men" to tone it down], except she hasn't had one yet.

  • 1
    The original term is very vulgar, so "finding" may not be an appropriate(??) match. I'd personally go with "fucking".
    – jick
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 5:42
  • I think it can be used in both the vulgar and non-vulgar sense. 먹다 is used in a lot of different ways. If the phrase was in some sort of dating video, I doubt it was used in the same sense delinquent teenage boys use the word.
    – Tony
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 11:53
  • Considering the playful style of the movie this came from, my best guess is that one of the translations that involves more wordplay would be closest to the intended meaning. That sort of thing is extremely hard to translate, so I'll probably end up replacing it with an American idiom that conveys something similar.
    – Jesse
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 21:19
  • Two possible interpretations come to mind based on this answer, and I'm curious which of them is closer (or if neither is close): "She has high standards for who she will sleep with, but has never found someone that met her standards" or "Her high standards don't do her any good because she can't find a guy who will sleep with her"
    – Jesse
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 21:22

Supposing that this movie is a R rated romantic comedy, 먹다 in such context would be a slang for "to hook up with"; that is, 여자를 먹다 would mean to fuck a woman. (Pardon my vulgarity, but that's about the most accurate translation of this expression.)

The lexical form of 가려서 is 가리다. This means 'to be picky/choosy' in this sentence.

Now then, the meaning of the phrase 남자 가려서 먹기 그런데 아직 못먹었다는 것 becomes clear: "Specialty: To fuck with a guy she chooses, except that she never succeded in doing so."

  • It is indeed an R-rated comedy. If it were an American sex comedy, even an R-rated one, I think they would have gone with the less blunt "hook up with" — mostly because "fuck" just isn't very funny in this context. I can't say how it would usually be interpreted by Koreans though.
    – Jesse
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 21:14

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