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Lesson 140: ~(으)로서 – With a Specific Status

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가장 = head of the household
주장 = leader
장군 = a military general
검사 = prosecutor
효도 = kind acts towards one’s parents
효자 = a devoted son
효녀 = a devoted daughter
임무 = duty
새언니 = a female’s brother’s wife (sister in law)
명절 = one of the two major holidays in Korea (Chuseok and/or Seolnal)
대리 = a substitute, a proxy
상사 = one’s superior
진품 = a real, genuine piece of work
공휴일 = public holiday
정치가 = politician
평론가 = critic
졸업생 = graduate
결승전 = playoff
책임감 = the feeling of responsibility
성공적 = successful

책임지다 = to be responsible for
극찬하다 = to give high praise
채용하다 = to hire, to recruit
인증하다 = to confirm, to certify
전담하다 = to take full charge of
평론하다 = to critique

존경스럽다 = to be respectful

때로 = sometimes




Two similar looking grammatical principles, two completely different meanings. In this lesson and the next one, you will learn how to use ~(으)로서 and ~(으)로써 in Korean sentences. Korean people often confuse which one is which because of their similar looking structures. However, they are completely different and with these two lessons it shouldn’t be hard for you to distinguish them. This lesson will focus on (으)로서. Let’s get started!



~()로서: To do something as a person who holds a specific status

Often times, people are able to do a task simply because of the specific job title, status, rank, qualification or position they have. For the remainder of this lesson, instead of constantly referring to one’s “specific job title, status, rank, qualification or position,” I will simply use the word “status” to refer to all of these ideas. By attaching ~(으)로서 to a specific status, you can indicate that some situation is able to occur as a result of that person holding that status.

Let’s look at a simple sentence to start.

엄마로서 해야 할 일이 너무 많아서 때로는 힘들다

Here, as a result of person having the position of being a mom, she is indicating that she has a lot of things to do and therefore it is sometimes difficult. One of the things that is tough about ~(으)로서 is that while other Korean grammatical principles have a specific, easy to distinguish translation to English, the translation of ~(으)로서 is usually just “as.” For example:

엄마로서 해야 할 일이 너무 많아서 때로는 힘들다
= As a mom, there are many things that I have to do, so it is difficult sometimes

Below are many more sentences where you can see ~(으)로서 being used:

저는 그 사건의 검사로서 재판을 전담하기로 했습니다
= I decided to take full charge of that court case as the prosecutor

슬기는 축구팀의 주장으로서 결승전에서 큰 활약을 했다
= Seulgi played a big active role in the playoffs as the captain/leader of the soccer team

가장으로서 가족을 책임져야 하기 때문에 어깨가 무겁다
= There is a lot of burden on the breadwinner because he/she is responsible for the family

미술작품에 대한 전문가로서 이 작품이 진품임을 인증합니다
= As a specialist on (works of) art, I certify that this piece of work is authentic

저는 회사의 대표로서 직원을 채용할 수 있는 유일한 사람이에요
= As the representative of the company, I am the only person who can hire employees

정치가로서 책임감을 가지고 문제해결을 위해 최선을 다하겠습니다
= As a politician, I will take on the responsibility, and do everything I can to solve the problem

이순신 장군은 한국에서 가장 유명한 장군으로서 모든 사람이 존경하는 인물이다
= Yi Sun Shin is the figure/person respected by all as the most famous general in Korea

우리 팀의 상사로서 이번 일을 성공적으로 마무리하기 위해 열심히 일하겠습니다
= As the superior/leader of our team, I will work hard to successfully finish this work/task

대통령으로서 이번 명절이 주말과 겹치기 때문에 명절 다음날인 월요일을 대체공휴일로 지정하기로 했습니다
= As the president, because this holiday falls on the weekend, I will designate the following Monday as a make-up holiday

This actually happens in Korea. 추석 and 설날 are three day holidays on the lunar calendar. Sometimes they fall on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not much of a three day holiday. If this happens, the government often designates the days prior to or after the weekend as “대체공휴일,” which is sort of like a “make-up holiday.” Also, sometimes the three days might fall on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. When that happens, sometimes the government declares the Monday and Friday of that week as “대체공휴일.” Nine days off!

민석이는 그 집안의 효자로서 항상 부모님께 잘한다
= Minseok, as the devoted son in the house, is always good to his parents


I purposely put that sentence last because I want to talk about it for a moment. The words 효도, 효자 and 효녀 are difficult to translate to English. As you can see from the list of vocabulary given in this lesson, each one refers to an idea that we can describe in English, but not something that we can translate with one word:

효도 = kind acts towards one’s parents, filial affection
효자 = a devoted son
효녀 = a devoted daughter

If you’ve been keeping up with the Hanja lessons on our website, you should be able to understand자 (子), 녀 (女) 도 (道).

효 (孝) refers to being kind to one’s parents or filial affection. 자 (子) refers to a son. 녀 (女) refers to being a girl. And 도 (道) refers to some sort of method or action. Let’s apply the words in a sentence to let them describe themselves:

그 여자가 부모님께 매일 효도를 해서 그녀를 효녀라고 부를 수 있어요
= That girl always does kind things to her parents, so you can call her an “효녀”


It is also possible to use ~(으)로서 to indicate that one is not able to do a task simply because of the specific status. For example:

엄마로서 자식을 버릴 수가 없어요
= As a mom, you can’t “throw away” your kids

저는 정치가로서 그 임무를 맡을 수 없어요
= As a politician, I can’t take on that work

선생님으로서 학생들의 나쁜 것을 하는 것을 참을 수 없어요
= As a teacher, I can’t deal with students doing bad things


So far, you have seen how people can (or cannot) perform an action as a result of a status. It is also possible to use ~(으)로서 in a sentence with an adjective to describe how a person is in that particular status. In some cases with adjectives, it is difficult to translate ~(으)로서 to just as and “is known as” is usually more appropriate. For example:

그 사람은 경쟁자로서 아주 존경스럽다
= That person is very respectful as a competitor

아인슈타인은 과학자로서 제일 똑똑하다
= Einstein is known as the smartest scientist

그 사람은 운동선수로서 한국에서 유명하다
= That person is famous as an athlete in Korea

그 사람은 하버드 대학의 졸업생으로서 제일 똑똑한 학생 중 한 명이었다
= That person was known as one of the smartest graduates of Harvard University


It is also possible to attach particles to ~(으)로서 to add their respective meaning on-top of the status-allowing meaning that ~(으)로서 creates. For example:

Describing an upcoming noun with something that is not an adjective using ~의, as discussed in Lesson 23.
엄마로서의 삶은 내가 생각한 것보다 훨씬 어려웠다
= Life as a mom was much more difficult than I thought

Comparing two situations with ~은/는, as discussed in Lesson 104.
저의 새 언니가 아내로서는 좋지만 엄마로서는 별로예요
= My sister-in-law is good as a wife, but not as a mother

Indicating that something is not one thing, but is another by using ~이/가, as discussed in Lesson 86.
한 유명한 영화배우는 배우로서가 아닌 평론가로서 그 책에 대해 극찬했다
= One famous actor highly praised that book, not as an actor, but as a critic

That’s it for this lesson!

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