애를 먹다 (have a hard time (literally, ‘eat Ae’)) : have considerable difficulties and feel extremely tired.

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관용표현 (Korean Idiom)

From an old Korean saying, “애 (Ae)” literally means the “intestine”. Now, the word has come to mean “근심에 싸여 초조한 마음속 (one’s nervous mind that is filled with worries)” and “마음과 몸의 몹시 수고로움 (extremely tired mind and body)”.  “애를 먹다 (to eat Ae)” means “to have considerable difficulties”, or simply put, “to do backbreaking work”.  Because this expression is used when we arduously completed something uneasy, we need to clarify the reasons of eating Ae by using the following sentence structure: “-때문에 애를 먹다 (to eat Ae, because of something)”, “-느라 애를 먹다 (to eat Ae when doing something)”. However, these expressions with Ae are not used with the elderly.

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