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The Most Important Word You'll Learn This Week
by Tom Goodman
June 25, 2014

Maybe you read about the South Korean woman who was granted her driver's license after 960 tries.  Her tenacity has given new meaning to a popular Korean term:  sajeonogi.

It's the most important word you'll learn this week.  But first, the driver's license story.

The New York Times wrote about Cha Sa-soon, a 69-year-old widow who lives in a remote village in South Korea.  She wanted to learn to drive so she could take her grandkids to the zoo without relying on the bus system.  But Ms. Cha had limited reading skills, having begun school at 15 only to drop out for lack of funds a few years later.  So, her biggest obstacle was the 50-minute written test consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions.  She failed this exam 959 times, at a cost of $5 for each try.

But she never gave up, and she's the proud owner of a driver's license today.  She's also the proud owner of a $17,000 car from the people of Hyundai, who feature her on prime-time commercials in Korea.

The NYT piece says she's become the embodiment of sajeonogi.

That's a conflation of four words that capture a proverb on perseverance:  Sa means four, Jeon means "to be knocked down," Oh means "five," and Gi means "to rise."  So, sajeonogi means to rise five times when knocked down four times.  The idiom became popular after Korean boxer Hong-Su-hwan won the 1977 super bantamweight championship by a knockout after being floored four times.

You'll need a commitment to sajeonogi to leave your mark in this life.

No one makes an impact on the lives of others without perseverance.  In Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 13-14), he faced many setbacks in his efforts: a co-worker abandoned him, his health broke down, and he met with hot opposition.  Still, he never gave up, and so "the word of the Lord spread through the whole region" (13:49).

Maybe life has knocked you down recently.  The really important question, though, is why you're still on the floor.  Beat the count, rise up, and get back in there.


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