I wrote this post to answer a question that an anon asked! ~처럼 and 같다 do have similar meanings in translation but they function quite differently. How are they similar, and how are they different? Let’s take a look.
~처럼 is a particle that attaches to nouns and is used to compare or equate things. In English, we could easily translate this as “like” or “X as Y,” like when making similies (Ex: As tall as a tree, as cold as ice). For example:
고양이처럼 조용히 따라갔다. (I followed as quietly as a cat.)
그 여자의 시선은 얼음처럼 차가웠다. (That woman’s gaze was as cold as ice.)
이 향수는 꽃밭처럼 향기로워요. (This perfume is as fragrant as a flower garden.)
As you can see, this is a fairly simple but useful particle! When you want to make simple comparisons, ~처럼 is there for you.
같다 is a descriptive verb used to indicate that two things are similar or the same. Because it is a verb, it can be a lot more flexible than ~처럼 and, depending on how exactly it is used, the way we interpret it in English can change a bit. When used simply following a noun with an “and” particle (-하고, -[이]랑, -와/과; though it is often omitted), for example, we can interpret it as “A is like B”:
너 이렇게 울면 정말 아기 같아! (You really seem like a baby when you cry like this!)
엄마표 요리는 따뜻한 포옹하고 같아요. (Mom’s cooking is like a warm hug.)
여름에는 사막이 오븐과 같아요. (In summer, the desert is like an oven.)
While the verb 같다 itself means that two things are the same, it is often used in sentences in a way that can be interpreted as “seems like.” I already did a fairly extensive write-up on that usage of 같다, so please do check it out!
As always, happy studying~