This slogan or motto is written in Chinese, though it comes from Korea. I have wondered many years what does it mean. Thank you for your help to understand it.

Cloth Calligraphy from Korea

EDIT: Thanks to the answers so far, I have found more information. Here is the University where this motto is promoted in the very old days. It remains displayed there on a small building, which maybe was at the entrance to the university in the old days.

SunKyunKwan University "Tang Pyung Be"

There is a Korean translation there in the article, however even that is obscure to a modern Korean speaker. I think I will try a Korean translation section too.

周而弗比 乃君子之公心 比而不周 寔小人之私心 / 두루 사귀되 가리지 않음은 곧 군자의 공심(公心)이고, 가려 사귀되 두루치 않음은 바로 소인의 사심(私心)이다.

EDIT 2: The reply in the comment below is reasonably meaningful and thoughtful attempt of translation to English.

"All-inclusive but not narrow-minded, this is the selflessness of the gentleman; narrow-minded but not all-inclusive, this is truly the selfishness of the petty man."

Thank you.


As far as I am concerned ,this motto is related from Lunyu which from China not from Korea . It is written by Chinese Confusius and his disciples. It's original motto is '君子周而不比,小人比而不周'. I think it is exactly similar to the motto you provide.

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'周'means : coordinate;harmonize [That is to say the person who can in charge or organize his members perfectly , and he can lead the team on a good way,do the good things.] '比'means: collude;gang with somebody

That is to say,the motto want to tell us, the difference between 君子 and 小人 is whether he has the quality of benevolence. A person of noble character emphasize morality and justice,while 小人 only pay attention to benefit.

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  • ruiwen.com/news/39285.htm gives the Confucian background. confucius2000.com/confucius/lunyu.htm has the actual text; it is an answer to Zigong. – user4452 Sep 27 '14 at 19:19
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    More to the point: the 君子 embraces the entire surroundings, the world, the 周, while the 小人 only cares about a select set of people (”colluding”, as the commenter said above). The Korean text is then merely an elaboration of this: 周而弗比 乃君子之公心 比而不周 寔小人之私心 = all-inclusive 周 but 而 not 弗 narrow-minded 比, this 乃 is the selflessness 公心 of 之 the gentleman 君子; narrow-minded 比 but 而 not 不 all-inclusive 周, this is truly 寔 (实) the selfishness 私心 of 之 the petty man 小人. – user4452 Sep 27 '14 at 22:14
  • I think "to collude" is a better translation of 比 than "narrow-minded". 杨伯峻《论语译注》 puts 比 as “以暂时共同利害互相勾结”(to collude for the temporal interests)。 – Fang Jing Sep 29 '14 at 3:02

text: 周而弗比 乃君子之公心 比而弗周 寔小人之私意 for further information search web using it as search term in particular try http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2729743&s=cdb9ee567562f6388e19096b9c2a9de1

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