꾸역꾸역 살아남기

Flooooooooor

Senior Member
English - USA
Hi all,

I was listening to someone discuss his love for the compelling story in the video game "The Last of Us."

To describe the characters' struggle to survive a post-apocalyptic world, this person used the phrase 어두움 가운데 꾸역꾸역 살아남다. I took this word at the time to convey that the struggle to survive was quite difficult and arduous. When I looked up 꾸역꾸역 in 네이버 국어사전, though, I couldn't find any meaning that related directly to this sense. The dictionary listed senses of:

1. Putting a large amount of food into one's mouth at once.
2. A large number of people swarming or crowding in an area.
3. A large amount of smoke appearing or flowing into an area.
4. An emotion repeatedly flaring up.

When people say 꾸역꾸역 살아남다, are they extending any of these listed meanings? Or is this a new usage unrelated to the "standard" meanings in the dictionary? (Also, do native speakers frequently use all of the above listed meanings of 꾸역꾸역 in their daily lives?) Thanks!
 
  • pcy0308

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Hello Flooooooooor,
    "꾸역꾸역" is an adverb often used to describe the act of cramming, shoving, stuffing food down one's mouth. Imagine someone (rather distastefully and unappetizingly) shoving 20+ marshmellows into his or her mouth. Of course, the process would require much endeavor and can hardly be thought as an easy task, if not an outright struggle. :)

    Just as stuffing one's (already-crammed-with-food) mouth with more food is rather challenging, "꾸역꾸역 살아남다" means to persevere, struggle daily to subsist, survive and live on (one day at a time). In this expression, "꾸역꾸역" draws the very image of struggle, fight, and hardship (just like that marshmellow example). "하루하루 꾸역꾸역 살아가다", struggling and persevering daily to live on one day at a time. As for its frequency and usage, more often than not, "꾸역꾸역" is used to describe how one eats, drinks, shoves food down one's throat, so I cannot say "꾸역꾸역 살아남다" is not all too common. It is however definitely correct and can occasionally be read or heard. Hope this helps.
     

    Flooooooooor

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Thanks, pcy0308 -- I found some additional examples on the internet of 꾸역꾸역 used with verbs like 살아가다 and 살아남다, and thanks your answer I think I can "feel" the sense being communicated closer to how a native speaker would. (I have at least once in my life tried to shove a lot of marshmallows into my mouth, and it indeed was no easy task! So I will try to connect the word with that memory. :rolleyes:)

    Thank you again!
     
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