Never Underestimate the Small and Humble in Korean Culture


In Korean culture, the phrase “거만한 크랭키/작다고 무시하면 안 돼요” translates to “Never underestimate the arrogant and cranky/small.” This saying highlights the importance of not dismissing or underestimating individuals based on their perceived arrogance or smallness. Whether in personal or professional settings, this concept has profound implications and lessons for us all.

Understanding “크랭키” (Arrogant) in Korean Culture

The term “크랭키” refers to someone who is arrogant or cranky. In Korea, arrogance can often be seen in both personal and professional circles. It’s a behavior that can create barriers and misunderstandings, impacting relationships and success. However, it’s crucial to recognize that arrogance often masks deeper insecurities or ambitions.

The Dangers of Underestimation

Underestimating someone based on their perceived smallness or lack of status can lead to missed opportunities and regret. History and everyday life are filled with stories of individuals who were initially dismissed but later proved their worth.

Real-Life Examples

  1. Kim Ji-young, the Entrepreneur

Kim Ji-young started her business from a small garage with limited resources. She faced skepticism and doubt from peers and investors. Today, her company is one of the leading tech firms in Korea. Her story is a testament to the power of perseverance and the danger of underestimation.

  1. Park Min-soo, the Student

Park Min-soo was often overlooked in his class due to his shy demeanor and average grades. However, his innovative project on renewable energy grabbed the attention of global scientists, earning him prestigious awards and scholarships. His success story reminds us never to judge someone’s potential based on initial impressions.

Practical Tips to Avoid Underestimating Others

  1. Stay Open-Minded

Always approach people with an open mind. Everyone has unique strengths and stories that you may not be aware of at first glance.

  1. Ask Questions

Take the time to ask questions and understand someone’s background and aspirations. This not only builds rapport but also reveals hidden talents and potentials.

  1. Focus on Growth

Encourage an environment that focuses on growth and learning. Recognize and nurture potential rather than dismissing it.

  1. Reflect on Biases

Regularly reflect on your own biases and assumptions. Challenge yourself to see beyond the surface and appreciate the depth in others.

Navigating Being Underestimated

If you find yourself being underestimated, here are some strategies to overcome it:

  1. Prove with Actions

Actions speak louder than words. Consistently demonstrate your capabilities and dedication through your work and achievements.

  1. Seek Feedback

Constructive feedback can provide valuable insights into how others perceive you and where you can improve.

  1. Build a Support Network

Surround yourself with mentors and peers who believe in your potential and support your growth.

  1. Stay Resilient

Resilience is key. Keep pushing forward despite setbacks and doubts. Your persistence will eventually pay off.


In the spirit of “거만한 크랭키/작다고 무시하면 안 돼요,” let’s make a pledge to never underestimate anyone based on their appearance, demeanor, or status. Each person has untapped potential waiting to be recognized and nurtured.

Have you ever been underestimated, or have you learned not to underestimate others? Share your story in the comments below and let’s inspire each other to see the greatness in everyone.

By acknowledging and addressing the biases that lead us to underestimate others, we foster a more inclusive and empowering environment for all. Remember, greatness often comes from the most unexpected places.

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