Korean embroidery

I have been asked to create a design for the company I work for that incorporates some Korean characters, I have been supplied a photograph of these characters as embroidery, but I cannot use the image directly; I have to 'type' the characters into e.g. Photoshop. The trouble is I know nothing of Korean, I don't know what these characters are, nor how to type them! I figure the first step is to ask for advice for identifying them, since various OCR services and Google translate failed me. I am told that the characters are supposed to say "always take action", if that helps.

If anyone can guide me at all I would be grateful!

1 Answer 1


It says 득기득세.

I had never heard of this term before, so I did some research online on what this means in the world of Tae Kwon Do and was unsuccessful in the attempt as there were so many wildly varying explanations by self-claimed martial art experts.

So let me break this down to you literally, syllable by syllable:

득(得): Gain

기(機): Mental strength

득(得): Gain

세(勢): Physical strength

득기득세 means therefore gain mental strength, gain physical strength, literally at least.

I would like to mention that 기(機) is seldom used for the purposes of expressing mental strength, at least I've never heard of this character being used this way. It typically stands for big machinery like aircraft, so I've no idea why the world of Tae Kwon Do thought to use 기(機) for this purpose.

Keep a lookout and see if other members of the community can provide a better explanation. If not, this is your best bet.

  • 1
    That is fantastically helpful! I was able to set the design, so that's nice. And it's great to learn something too. I would have imagined that 세 rather than 기 would be big machinery, given that it means physical strength.
    – Rob
    Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 18:13
  • The best thing is to ask the person who designed the belt. It's not uncommon for these things to have been handed down, possibly from someone who was a student of Korean Martial Arts, but who didn't actually speak Korean. Is it possible that the belt design was created before the invention of large plant equipment and that some time ago 기 meant something else?
    – KDM
    Commented Sep 24, 2023 at 11:11

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