This is an Advanced Idiomatic Expressions lesson related to 가슴, the chest, heart, or breast. In order to fully understand and use the expressions introduced in this series, it is essential that you understand the grammatical structure of the sentences. When you come across a grammar point that you are unfamiliar with, please go back and review the related lessons.
가슴 = chest, heart, breast
1. 가슴이 아프다 = My heart aches. / It makes me sad.
(아프다 = to be sick, to hurt)
→ This could mean that you have some pain in the chest, but normally, if you say this, people will understand it as you are sad or that something is breaking your heart.
Ex) 저는 이런 기사를 읽으면 너무 가슴이 아파요.
= I’m so sad when I read articles like this.
2. 가슴이 두근거리다 = to be thrilled / one’s heart palpitates
→ 두근거리다 can also be used alone to mean “to be thrilled” or “one’s heart is pounding”, but it’s often used together with 가슴이. When you have something very exciting or absolutely nerve-wrecking coming up soon, such as confessing to someone or going on stage for a performance, you can use this expression.
Ex) 어젯밤에 가슴이 두근거려서 잠을 많이 못 잤어요.
= I couldn’t sleep a lot last night because I was so excited.
3. 가슴이 뛰다 = one’s heart beats / one’s heart races / to be happily excited and motivated
(뛰다 = to jump, to run)
→ When you are excited about something and your heart is beating faster than normal, you can say 가슴이 뛰다. 가슴이 뛰다 can be used for both good and bad situations, but is more commonly used for good situations, such as when your heart is racing because you saw someone you like, or when you are about to achieve something that you’ve wanted for a long time.
Ex) 지금 가슴이 너무 뛰어서 말이 안 나와요.
= Right now I’m so excited that I can’t speak.
4. 가슴이 답답하다 = to feel a pressure on one’s chest / to feel heavy with worries
(답답하다 = to be stuffy, to be stifling)
→ 답답하다 can be used to refer to a stuffy environment, but it can also be used to talk about a situation or something that doesn’t work as well as one wants. 가슴이 답답하다 is mixture of both of these meanings. When there’s something that is not working out like you wish, you can feel that your 가슴이 답답하다.
Ex) 요즘에 걱정이 많아서 가슴이 답답해요.
= I have a lot of things to worry about these days, so I feel a pressure on my chest.
5. 가슴이 내려앉다 = to be greatly surprised / to be startled / one’s heart sinks
(내려앉다 = to sink, to collapse)
→ 내려앉다 means to sink or to collapse, so when your heart or chest suddenly “sinks” due to surprise, sadness or disappointment, you can use the expression 가슴이 내려앉다.
Ex) 그 소식 듣고 정말 가슴이 내려앉았어요.
= My heart sank when I heard that news.
6. 부푼 가슴을 안고 = with a pounding heart
(부풀다 = to inflate)
→ 부풀다 means “to inflate”, so 부푼 가슴 is an inflated chest or inflated heart. This means your heart or mind is full of hope and excitement, so the expression 부푼 가슴을 안고 refers to the attitude in which you are dealing with things with great excitement and high hopes. This expression, however, tends to be used more often in written language.
Ex) 부푼 가슴을 안고 10년 전에 서울로 이사왔어요.
= I moved to Seoul 10 years ago, full of excitement for what I would be doing in Seoul.
7. 가슴에 와 닿다 = something touches one’s heart / to hit home
(오다 = to come, 닿다 = to reach, to touch)
→ When something comes along and touches your heart, it means it hit home and you were touched. In that case, you can use the expression 가슴에 와 닿다. On the contrary, however, if a story or a movie doesn’t hit home and you are not greatly moved by it, you can say 가슴에 와 닿지 않는다.
Ex) 왜인지 모르겠지만 이 이야기는 가슴에 와 닿지 않아요.
= I don’t know why, but this story doesn’t touch my heart.
8. 가슴에 맺힌 한을 풀다 = to resolve one’s deep sorrow
(맺히다 = to form, 한 = resentment, 풀다 = to resolve)
→ 한 is deep resentment or deep sorrow and 맺히다, which means “to form”, is usually used with 눈물 (tears), 이슬 (dew), 땀 (sweat), or 한 (resentment). And 풀다 means to resolve, so 가슴에 맺힌 한을 풀다 means to resolve some long overdue deep sorrow, usually by finally doing something that one hasn’t been able to do, or by being forgiven by someone.
Ex) 저희 어머니는 드디어 가슴에 맺힌 한을 풀었어요.
= She finally got/achieved what she had been hoping for.
9. 가슴 벅차다 = to be overwhelmed (with joy) / one’s heart is overflowing with joy
→ When you’re overwhelmed with joy and your heart is “full”, you can say 가슴이 벅차다.
Ex) 제 친구가 올림픽에서 금메달을 따서 정말 가슴이 벅차요.
= My heart is overflowing with joy because my friend won a gold medal in the Olympic Games.
10. 가슴 깊이 후회하다 = to deeply regret
→ In fact, you can omit the word 가슴 and just say 깊이 후회하다 to mean the same thing, but by adding the word 가슴, you give the expression a stronger nuance.
Ex) 그때 제가 했던 말을 가슴 깊이 후회하고 있어요.
= I am deeply regretting what I said back then.
11. 가슴 깊이 뉘우치다 = to deeply repent
→ This expression is very similar to 가슴 깊이 후회하다, except 뉘우치다 is closer to repenting and realizing one’s fault.
Ex) 가슴 깊이 뉘우치고 있어요. 용서해 주세요.
= I am deeply repenting what I did. Please forgive me.
12. 가슴이 콩닥콩닥 (뛰다) = one’s heart is pounding
→ 콩닥콩닥 is an onomatopoeia that describes the sound of a pounding heart or a mimetic word that describes how the heart pounds in a small and cute way. Other words that describe the same kind of movement or sound in a bigger scale or in a more serious way are 쿵쾅쿵쾅 or 쿵덕쿵덕.
Ex) 좋아하는 가수를 봐서 가슴이 콩닥콩닥 뛰었어요.
(= I saw my favorite singer so my heart was pounding.)