Basic K-Pop Terms You Ought To Know

Hallyu is the term for ‘The Korean Wave’, used to encapsulate the increasing popularity of Korean culture around the world. Nothing spreads the culture faster than K-Pop – Korean pop music that has taken the world by storm. Or Rain. If you think you like K-Pop from watching PSY on YouTube, here are some starter K-Pop terms to put you in the know.

Aegyo: Korean word deriving from the joining of the two Chinese characters for ‘love’ and ‘beautiful.’ It essentially denotes the act or ability to display cuteness.

This is a delicate act, since overdoing it can cross the line into the ‘aegyo that deserves a punch’ category – a phrase referring to a level of (sometimes) intentional aegyo that makes on-lookers want to punch the person responsible.

Chocolate Abs: Abs that have strongly defined lines, like blocks of chocolate.

Sasaeng Fan: An obsessed fan who spends a lot of time and money tracking down and following their favorite idols.

The sasaeng fan is often confused with stalkers, but there is a difference. A sasaeng fan may be a stalker, but not all stalkers are fans of K-Pop. Obsessive fans with a higher disposable income are referred to as samchon fans, or ‘uncle fans’.

Sunbae: Honorific used to address someone who has been in the music industry for a (relatively) longer time, though not necessarily older.

For example, Justin Timberlake is a sunbae of Justin Bieber, or he could be if he were Korean. Essentially anyone who has paid their dues longer is addressed as sunbae. On the other hand, someone with less experience is referred to as a hoobae.

Selca: A combination of the words ‘self’ and ‘camera,’ this is essentially the hip Korean term for a ‘selfie’ – a self taken camera picture, usually done facing a mirror.

Stars tend to post selcas on their Twitter or Me2Day Account accounts. Women sometimes show off their S-line (a term to describe a female figure with beautiful curves). Others are content to showcase their V-line (slim oval face that narrows towards the chin, like the letter ‘V’).

Gangnam Style: A single released by PSY in July 2012; the title of the song and containing lyrics refer to a type of lifestyle often lead by inhabitants of the Gangnam District of Seoul.

The song quickly gained popularity in Korea and the rest of the world, going on to top the charts in over 30 countries by year’s end, boosted by the hilarious and catchy choreography in the accompanying music video. It is considered by many to have single-handedly renewed interest in Hallyu, and the excessive replays of the hit song also increased Google rankings for the term ‘earworm’.

No mention of the popular single will be complete without showing it. So here it is again:



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Author: Song Lianyi

The beginner’s course for a fun and effective way to learn Mandarin Chinese. Specially written for people who have never learned a foreign language before.

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