101 Korean pop culture words you absolutely MUST know
Are you new to the world of K-pop or K-drama, or just need a refresher on what the heck everyone's talking about? Is there a word you've always wondered about but were afraid to ask? We've put together the ultimate list of every single K-pop and K-drama term you'll ever come across. So bookmark this page, and dive right in to the Korean pop culture dictionary!
Aegyo: Acting overly cute and innocent to charm fans. Can be done by male or female idols, usually in a pose like this:
Aigoo: A word used to show frustration. The Korean equivalent of "aw man!" or "geez."
Ajumma: A Korean term for middle-aged married women. Stereotypically, these seasoned citizens have short permed hair and wear house dresses or slacks everywhere. Korean women in their 30's
may will take offense to being called this.
Ajusshi: Literally means 'uncle,' but is used in polite conversation to refer to a man who is older than you, and who you don't know well. A bit like calling someone "Sir" in English.
All-kill: The weirdly violent term used for a K-pop song that reaches the top spot on all the major charts.
Andwae: Korean word meaning "no way," usually used in moments of disbelief, shock, fear, or defiance. Andwae is also one of those words you'll end up using by yourself while surfing the web and stumbling upon a scandalous story or outrageous fan fiction.
Antis: Fans who unite against a certain actor or singer are anti-fans, or "antis" for short. Usually they become antis because they feel like their bias is in competition with the idol.
Army: South Korea's mandatory two years of military service that just about every male idol goes through, usually dropping out of the celebrity spotlight momentarily. When idols and flower boys come back from the service, they're expected to have a lot of abs, and an obligatory shower scene in their next project to show off said abs.
Bagel girl: A girl with a glamorous body and a baby face.
Banana milk: A delicious Korean drink that you will not be able to resist once you see this commercial featuring Lee Min Ho:
Bias: Your absolute favorite actor, whom you will support no matter what his project is. You will buy his album on CD, MP3, 8-track and vinyl, and he can't even sing.
Bias ruiner: An actor or idol who comes along and threatens the place in your heart of your favorite actor (bias). For example, "I thought I was in forever love with Lee Min Ho until I saw Vanness Wu's abs. Such a bias ruiner!"
Bodyrolls: A sexy Kpop dance move used by both male and female idols to drive fans crazy.
Bromance: A platonic, close friendship between two actors or idols that appears to be almost romantic, stimulating massive feels production in all who look upon it.
CF: Commercial film. Sometimes crazy, sometimes weird, but always cute commercial starring your favorite K-drama and K-pop stars. For example, see this Magic Hole commercial with Lee Min Ho and Kim Hyun Joong:
Chaebol: A tried-and-true character type in Korean dramas, the wealthy heir of a family conglomerate. Pretty much every Kdrama male lead ever has played a chaebol at some point.
Cheongmal: An expression of disbelief and annoyance. Like saying "Really?!"
Chincha: An expression meaning "Are you serious?!" You might say it when you see this:
Chocolate abs: The hot, delicious abs of an Asian man.
Choding: Someone who acts childish, using a lot of aegyo.
Comeback: Whether a group or performer is out of the limelight for years, months, or just a couple weeks, you can bet that when they return with a new project it'll be called their comeback.
Concept: When a K-pop group makes a comeback, they also change their image to fit their new album theme, termed a "concept." Concepts can vary wildly over the course of a group's career. For example, see B.A.P's debut concept for Warrior, and recent concept for Hurricane.
D Line: Bodies sporting a baby bump, said to resemble a capital "D." D-lines are achieved through pregnancy, though many men with beer bellies may sprout a D line body shape as well.
Daebak: Expression to praise something that is big, positive, and great.
Dongsaeng: A dongsaeng is a younger friend or sibling. Anyone younger than you is considered your dongsaeng, regardless of gender. You can even use this term in a fun and sarcastically playful way, especially if you're a girl: if you're an older girl (see noona) involved with a younger guy, you can tease them by calling them "dongsaeng" instead of using their actual name.
Eomeoni: Where there is a chaebol, the eomeoni is never far behind:
Eye smile: When a male or female smiles, their eyes become small and also form into their own smile. Usually eye smiles are a stealthy way of flirting and stealing your affections. A guy or girl can be crazy or even rude, but the moment they smile and reveal their eye smile, they're the cutest people in the universe!
Fandom: Everyone who loves Korean pop culture, all in one big loving group.
Fanboy and Fangirl (noun and verb): Someone who is passionate about K-pop or K-drama, and experiences intense feels over his bias or favorite group. As a verb, fanboying/fangirling is the action of spazzing out over your bias or favorite group.
Fan Fiction: When fans channel their inner creative writer and create fictional tales starring their favorite Idols and actors. Fan fictions usually involve romance and sometimes erotic or even weird and creepy storylines, and can even take on a life of their own. The extremely popular 50 Shades of Grey series was derived from a fan fiction based on the Twilight novels.
Fanservice: Something idols and actors do just to please fans, even if it's not relevant to the show. For example, K-drama shower scenes (not complaining).
Feels: Intense emotions that overcome you when watching K-dramas or K-pop MVs, sometimes causing crying or screaming. Sometimes blamed for crazy actions committed by rabid fans.
Fighting!: A phrase that means "You can do it!"
Flower boy: An incredibly attractive, model-perfect Korean guy who dresses well. F4 of Boys Over Flowers provides the ultimate example.
Gangnam: A wealthy district in Seoul, often portrayed as where the chaebols and idols live and shop. Made globally famous by the song...
Gangnam Style: The only K-pop video all your friends and family have ever seen. If you tell them you like K-pop, they think this is what you're obsessed with:
GIFs: A short, often sped up animated clip, usually of something funny or sexy that lets you watch it over and over and over. Allows you to watch your favorite K-moments endlessly.
Hallyu: "The Korean wave." Refers to the increase in popularity of South Korean media worldwide since the late 1990's. Don't fight it, you've already been swept away.
Hanboks: The traditional Korean dress seen in many historical K-dramas. Don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting to try one on!
Honey thighs: Shapely, healthy looking thighs that might even touch! After School's Uee is the poster child for "honey thighs." It's a good bet you possess your own set of honey thighs if your legs are not stick thin.
Hoobae: Refers to people with less experience in an industry, or someone younger than you.
Hul: A Korean slang word used in embarrassing or awkward situations:
Hwa-ting!: Another way to write fighting! Means "you can do it!", "good luck!" or "let's go!"
Hyung: Literally older brother, but also used by Korean males to address another male older than them who they are close to.
Idol: A male or female who has gone through years of training only to debut and stun all the fangirls and fanboys in the world with amazing dance skills, catchy songs, funny variety show stints, and the occasional K-drama role. Never forget: The trainees of today are the biases of tomorrow.
Idolization: The process through which one goes from looking average to over-the-top hot with the help of weight loss, eyebrow waxing, cosmetics, fabulous hair styles, and maybe, just maybe... plastic surgery.
Jeju Island: A beautiful island paradise that is a top vacation destination in South Korea. In K-dramas, this is where the rich male leads take female leads to impress them, or where they run into poor female leads who happened to win a vacation there.
Jjang: Means "best" in Korean. Also the title for a K-pop show on Mnet. The best way to say this phrase is by emphasizing the g at the end. Give a thumbs up and say "Jjangggg!"
Kekeke: When using "hehehe" just doesn't sound cute enough to express your laughter. Some people actually "kekeke" out loud, which is not recommended. Keep the kekeke-ing to texting. Over use of the kekeke can go from cute to annoying real quick. Use sparingly. Kekeke.
Kimchi: A yummy dish made most commonly with cabbage and red pepper powder used not only for eating, but kissing ( see Flower Boy Ramen Shop ), family bonding, and K-pop group member names.
Kkab: Is a slang term used when describing someone who is acting crazy and overly energetic to the point of annoyance. Just as Jo Kwon is the poster child for "Ssanti" he is also known as "Kkab Kwon" because of his outrageous dances.
Love Line: A trail of K-drama characters who are smitten with one another. For example in Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love three girls wanted Yoo Ah In's character while Prince Dongpyung liked Jang Ok, who loved Yoo Ah In's character, therefore forming a "love line."
M Line: Refers obliquely to the torso of men who have 6-pack abs. You can achieve an M-line through diet, exercise, body paint and spray tan with a stencil, or Photoshop. You may also call an M-line "chocolate abs" because they resemble the sections of a Hershey's bar.
Maknae: In every K-pop group, there is a youngest member. That member is referred to as the group's maknae and is often an evil naughty person with the face of an angel.
Manner hands: Also known as "hover hands," this is when a male's hand literally hovers over or stops short of making contact with a female's shoulders or waist. Manner hands was probably accidentally invented by a germaphobe.
Manner legs: When a tall male or female accommodates the height of someone shorter by spreading their legs to lower themselves. When attempting manner legs, be mindful of your pant material. Adjusting to someone's height is never worth split pants.
Mat-seon: When the parents of K-drama characters get involved in their children's love life and set up a really formal blind date. The type where it's usually only the evil witch mother sitting in a private dining room with her son, who for the most part lacks a backbone and waits for the perfect girl chosen to replace the lead girl.
Melodrama: A K-drama that is so dramatic it will usually have you crying by the end of the first episode. You know you're watching a major melodrama when the first 6 episodes involves child actors and tragedy.
Michyeosseo: Means "Are you crazy?" in Korean. There's not one K-drama character who doesn't ask this question. In fact, it would be extremely crazy to watch an entire K-drama and no one asks this question. You can ask this kind of question to anyone and it's most effective when delivered in a over-the-top and dramatic way.
Example: You may use this term when Dongwoon does this type of thing for no reason:
Netizen: A somewhat vague term for a "citizen of the internet." K-pop and K-drama netizens are known for taking small non-existent issues and turning them into huge career-ending situations. They also enjoy acting as the moral police and will even create online petitions to try and get entertainers either punished and in some cases, have a K-drama storyline changed. The antics of netizens are alternately aggravating and hilarious, depending on your mood that day.
Noona: Korean word meaning "older sister" used by males related or not, speaking to an older woman or girl. A noona usually finds herself being the object of affection for countless younger guys. SHINee are poster children for loving all the noonas in the world.
Noona Killer: A hot younger guy capable of making all the noonas love him by ruining their lives with actions such as winking, smiling, teasing, and in extreme cases of manipulation, sucking kimchi juice off their fingers. Noonas BEWARE.
Noona romance: When an older woman (see "noona") is romantically involved with a younger guy, but at first tries really hard to deny her feelings. She may do such things as talk to herself, have weird dreams about the dongsaeng in question, or date an oppa to take her mind off of the dongsaeng in question, before eventually cracking and giving in.
Omo!: The "OMG" of Korea. One usually uses this term when wanting to make a current situation even more dramatic. This term is best used when you find out something extremely surprising and shocking. If you really want to sound like you're shocked use multiple "omos" back to back really fast!
Oppa: Meaning "older brother," oppa is a term used by girls when speaking to guys. "Oppa" is also loosely used to flirt and show affection for an older guy not related to a girl. Never, ever insult a girl's oppa... don't.
OST: Stands for Original Sound Track. A single or album of songs created for specifically for a K-Drama. OSTs have the power to make any drama watcher cry or feel extremely happy, often at the same time. They are perfectly placed soundtracks at the best and worst moments of the drama to increase your feels!
Otoke: Meaning "what to do?" or "What do I/We do?" Usually used in moments of desperation or total confusion. See "Omo" for an additional way to heighten the dramatic flair of your sentence.
OTP: Meaning "One True Pairing," OTP is an acronym used to describe your favorite pairings of people. Romantic or not, you can feel when two people belong together. When you smile and insist on seeing two people together, then you have found your "OTP."
Piggy Back: Involves a hot guy carrying a girl on his back, usually as a result of too much soju or some accident that only the lead female of a K-drama could get injured from. If there is no piggy back, there is no relationship, and that's the sad reality.
Pinkberry: A slightly dated term for some K-drama second female leads. They were tart and sour just like yogurt, and spitefully schemed to ruin the main couple.
Pojangmacha: These are the tents on Korean streets most K-drama characters go to in order to drown their sorrows in bottles of soju and delicious side dishes. Major K-drama moments usually take place under these tents which may include but are not limited to: office workers hilariously insulting their bosses, love confessions and 5-minute flashback cutaways.
Plastic Prince: A guy with gorgeous flower boy looks, only to be enhanced by plastic surgery. (See here)
Example: SS501 member Kim Kyu Jong Before and After hotness.
Plastic Surgery: Currently a huge phenomenon in Korea, plastic surgery involves surgically altering one's physical appearance. This could be to fit a societal ideal or just to look like someone you admire. Common surgeries in South Korea include double eyelid, chin, and nose.
Prince of Asia: Actor and singer Jang Keun Suk's other title. In the world of JKS he believes he really is the Prince of Asia, and so do all his fans. You will most often find him in Japan singing, in Korea filming awesome movies and dramas, and on social media sites posting strange yet hilarious selcas.
Q_Q (as in the emoticon you make when crying from too many feels)
Rainism: Technically "Rainism" is the title of K-pop world star Rain's 5th album. However, anything Rain does is considered "rainism." Example: "O.M.G Rain just breathed! Ahhhh! It's RAINISM!"
Rookie: An actor or idol group who have just debuted in the entertainment industry. Example: "Rookie Ha Yeon Soo made her debut in the K-drama Monstar." The rookie title doesn't just vanish after a year or so of working; the title will only drop once an actor or idol has achieved a certain level of success in the industry.
S line: Describes a woman's body shape. When looking at your side body profile, if you have a noticeable bust that leads down to a flat stomach and curvy slope-like backside, well then congratulations: you have an S line!
Sageuk: A sageuk is a historical K-drama, most likely taking place during the Joseon Era (1392–1897), involving a plot to over throw the king, kill the prince, and toss the latest princess into an unknown far away village... conducted entirely by the Queen Mother.
Sangnamja: A conventionally manly man, in contrast to the stylish flower boy. Popularized by the Real Men variety show that follows celebrities training for the army.
Sasaeng: Obsessive "fans" who have one too many screws loose. These "fans" are known for their outrageous and often dangerous behavior towards Idols and actors. Sasaeng fans are known to stalk idols outside their homes, even break into their homes, chase them down in cars and taxis, and send creepy, disgusting, and unsanitary gifts.
Selca: A selca is a self-portrait taken with a camera phone. The standard selca involves holding your cell phone angled down so you look smaller, and posing in an extremely cute way. Selcas can be taken with or without props, and can even include personal doodles for added cuteness.
Shipping: Derived from the word "relationship," shipping is a term used to show support for any type of relationship.
Fan Reaction: "Oh mahh gawwd, I ship themmm soooo muchhhhh."
Skinship: When one person touches another person. It doesn't even have to be a major touch. If one person brushes their hand along another, it's skinship. If one person's shoulder accidentally brushes up against another it's still considered skinship.
Small face: This term is literally used to describe the face size of a person. The theory is that smaller your face looks, the more awesome you appear to be. You will even find many idols and actors taking photos with large objects beside their face, just to prove how small it is by comparison.
Soju: A distilled rice liquor sold in a green bottle, and the cause of all K-drama drunk scenes. Also known as the gateway to the piggyback. If it weren't for soju, most K-drama couples would have never gotten together, because most leads have no idea at all how to take a hint.
Ssanti: Means "cheap" in Korean, but is usually used to describe a silly, satirical dance idols may perform on variety shows. Jo Kwon of 2AM is the poster child for booty shaking ssanti variety show dances.
STP: Short for Second True Pairing, this is the viewer's ideal couple involving the second male lead in a K-drama.
Sunbae: This term means "senior" in Korean, and is most often used in a school setting. One of the most famous sunbaes is the Boys Over Flowers character Yoon Ji Hoo, played by Kim Hyun Joong who was actually named "The Nation's Sunbae" in Korea.
Teaser - A short video clip of an upcoming movie, drama, or music video. A teaser is meant to play with your emotions and make you wait impatiently to see your favorite actors and idols in their latest work. Some people will watch teasers over and over, others will actually add music to a teaser, and then there are those fans who will create their own teaser with scenes from other works while waiting for the actual teaser to come out.
Teaser pics: Usually released by K-pop groups, teaser pics are super awesome and dramatic photos of individual members of a group along with group shots involving concepts that usually have nothing at all to do with their latest single or album.
Trainee: Pre-debut idols who spend hours practicing and perfecting their stage skills and talents. Trainees have yet to complete the process of idolization.
Example: LC9 member E.Den as a trainee, and now as an idol.
Ulzzang: Means "best face" in Korean, and refers to people who are way better looking then the average. They usually posses large eyes, porcelain-smooth skin and are champions in online modeling contests. Ulzzangs are popular on social media sites, and often work for various Asian clothing sites.
Example: Park Tae Jun
Unnie: Means "older sister" in Korean and is used by younger girls when speaking to older girls who are related or not. Can also be used by a catty girl with the aim to put down a girl similar in age to her.
V line: Refers to the shape of a person's jaw. A narrow jaw line that forms a "V" is considered to be a "V Line." In some cases, this aesthetic is achieved through plastic surgery in a procedure known as jaw shaving.
Visual: Refers to the best-looking member of a K-pop group. Each member is assigned a position and yes, the visual is an actual position within a group. The visual is the face of the group. You may find another member to be "best looking," but technically by industry standards he or she is no match for the assigned "visual."
Example: L is the visual of INFINITE.
Wae?: Means "Why" in informal Korean. Wae-yo is formal and is usually used in moments of anger, confusion, and pure disbelief. You can practice saying this term by standing in the mirror and imagining various scenarios, like being cheated on. You can say "You cheated on me WAE!" You can also use wae in aegyo fashion to achieve a gift by dragging the word like this: "aww waeeeyooooooo?!"
World Star: An actor or idol who has not only earned fame in their birth countries, but overseas as well. Examples include but are not limited to: Boa, Rain, and Lee Byung Hun. Talking about world stars with non-fans is extremely exciting for the kpop/kdrama fan because for ONCE someone actually knows who you're talking about!
X line: A body description for a person having a small narrow waist along with long arms and legs. In this case, you could say a spider has a perfect, natural X line. If you would like an X line, we hear Pilates and yoga can elongate your limbs.
Ya!: A rude way of saying "hey" yet can also be used as a replacement for various curse words. Ya can be said while, angry, confused, upset, or trying to get someone's attention. For a better understanding of this term, watch every episode of The Master's Sun and you too will be a Ya-screaming expert.
Yeobo: Korean for "honey," this is a term of endearment used most often between a married couple. Bridal Mask broke barriers by introducing the "double yeobo." This is when you say "yeobo, yeobo" twice to show your undying love.
Zhjkgandfklkfh: This is used when you can’t type because too many feels.