On the unofficial list of nerdier things I love in life, I have to say that idioms rank pretty high. I like discovering Korean idioms through reading them in context but, just as in English, the disconnect between the literal and figurative meaning often makes me scratch my head confusion. Many of them prove challenging to learn and retain, but once in a rare while I come across one that makes me go, “Aha, I totally get this!”
That’s exactly how I felt when I stumbled upon this particular idiomatic expression.
You know that overbearing feeling of doom and stress that you get during midterms or final exam week? During which you study for hours upon hours and then take back-to-back exams for two straight weeks? More important, you know that feeling after your last exam? That’s when the pure adrenaline you’re running on comes to a crashing stop and wave upon wave of fatigue from all those lost hours of sleep washes over you and your eyelids feel so heavy that they feel like they’re made of lead.
(…Yeah, the last time I actually had a final exam week like that was 3 years ago and I still can’t get over the feeling.)
The night after the last exam of finals week, right before glorious winter or summer break, is the night I sleep so deeply and soundly that I’m pretty much lost to another dimension.
‘꿀잠’ is essentially that type of unadulterated, deep slumber. Breaking it down, it’s easy to see where the meaning comes from. ‘꿀’ means honey and ‘잠’ means sleep, so putting that together, you get honey sleep. Sleep that is so sweet and satisfactory, it’s like honey. That’s pretty close to what the Korean dictionary from Daum defines 꿀잠 as: ‘아주 달게 자는 잠.’
Obviously, the ideal situation is that you get a good night’s sleep every night and don’t pull all-nighters, but let’s be real, when does that ever happen? Heh. Now that I’m out of school, I usually experience 꿀잠 the night after big presentations (i.e. lab meetings and talks) and project deadlines. Even though it’s unhealthy and stressful (and I don’t condone it!), procrastinating actually helps me deliver a better product more efficiently…. And nothing is sweeter than the 꿀잠 I have the night after it’s all done.