Thursday, January 05, 2006

What does 독불장군(獨不將軍) mean?

독불장군(獨不將軍) is defined as follows:
  1. [고집쟁이] a man of self-assertion
  2. [외톨이] a meverick; a loner; a lone wolf; someone ostracized.

Today's meaning of the expression is different from its original meaning, as the Chinese characters show:

  • (독) alone
  • (불) no; not
  • (장) commander; general
  • (군) soldier

Originally, 獨不將軍(독불장군) meant, "one cannot become a general by oneself," which implies that a person needs "people skills" to succeed. Koreans seem to have taken that piece of good advice and changed it into a noun.

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