Popular K-Pop Terms and Slang

K-pop is a genre of music that originated in South Korea that has become popular across the globe. It’s most famous for its upbeat and catchy tunes, as well as choreography with complex moves. The Korean culture is embedded within K-pop, so it’s only natural that there are some words to learn if you want to be fluent in all things K-pop! In this article we’ll cover common terms and phrases from the industry.

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  • Aegyo: means cute behavior or doing things that are adorably shy. It’s something to show your love for someone, but it doesn’t have a specific meaning like “love” because of the ambiguity in what type of love you’re feeling.
  • All-Kill: When an artist wins all the daily and weekly music shows for that day.
  • Bias: is a term used to describe your favorite member or group in K-pop culture. You can have multiple biases (so long as you like them all equally) but it’s usually just one.
  • Bias wrecker: is a term used for any member of K-pop that has the power to make your bias look bad (or just downright worse). It can be considered as an insult, but when you’re fangirling it’s always good to have more than one person on your list.
  • Comeback: When an artist releases new music/performance.
  • Co-ed: typically means an environment where both male and female artists can come together without any gender discrimination, but this term also applies for groups that have members with different genders.
  • Daesang: Award given at the end of year award show (Korean equivalent of Grammy)
  • Dongsaeng: means younger sibling in Korean, so if you’re older than your brother or sister then they would be considered as your dongseng (older siblings have a different word for their younger sibling).
  • Episodes: refer to the regular releases of episodes for an upcoming show. For example, we’re two episodes into the new season of The Bachelor and there are 16 more to go!
  • Fangirl: to be overly obsessed with something or someone
  • Fan chant: is an impromptu song to cheer on their favorite singers/groups at live performances.
  • Fancafe: A place where K-pop fans gather and discuss about their favorite artists. You can create private rooms as well so only people who know the password will be able to see them.
  • Hoobae: Term for junior (someone who is newer at something than I am).
  • Maknae: means youngest sibling (though this term also applies for other groups).
  • Netizens: People that are active on the internet to comment and discuss about things they like or dislike, which usually includes K-pop culture. To be a netizen is to belong in this group of people
  • Oppa: Korean for older brother; used by females as term of endearment when talking about their favorite male artists.
  • Perfect All-Kill: When an artist achieves a perfect score of 100% on all music charts, which is rare to happen because it’s hard to please everyone
  • Sasaeng: is a term for an obsessive fan that will do anything to get close to their bias, even if it means stalking them or breaking into their homes. It can be considered as a negative thing in K-pop culture because of the potential consequences these fans may have on the likes and privacy of singers/groups.
  • Shipping: refers to people who want their bias/favorite artist(s), real life friends, celebrity couples etc., to date each other because they would make great couple material. It started out as just being used for stories written online by fans, but has expanded into actually shipping them IRL too. The act of shipping is like a small window into your own imagination, where anything and everything could happen.
  • Sunbae: Term for senior (someone who’s experienced more than what you have)
  • Subunit: is a term for a smaller group within an existing K-pop group. For example, TaeTiSeo (TTS) or Momoland’s JinJoo and Nancy are both subunits of their respective groups.
  • Trainee: refers to those who work hard with hopes of becoming an artist someday; there are various ways of becoming a trainee.
  • Variety Show: is when two or more celebrities (usually from the same industry) are invited to talk about various topics in front of a live audience; it’s similar to having your own personal chat show!

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