Glossary

A

Aegyo (애교)

애교 (aegyo) : (Noun) the act of acting cute or childish

Korean aegyo (애교) is the word to describe when somebody acts in a cute or childish way, despite not being a young child themselves. This can take many forms, such as:

  • How people speak and act
  • How people dress
  • How people decorate their room

If you are impressed by somebody’s aegyo, then you can say ‘귀여워요’ (gyiyowoyo) which means ‘cute’ in Korean (dictionary form: 귀엽다) and is an adjective. Remember: you can’t use aegyo in a sentence to say something like „You are cute“ – this would be 너는 귀여워 (neoneun gwiyeowo),

The word Aegyo is often used with the word ‘부리다 ‘ (bulida) to make ‘애교 부리다’ (aegyo bulida). This means ‘to act in an aegyo way’.

Notice: Aegyo is used a lot by females in Korean dramas, TV shows and by idol interacting with their fans and such. Yet, pretty many people inside and outside of Korea think that Aegyo is annoying and does not suit adults. Be careful when using any Aegyo habits you might have seen on TV or Youtube in real life, especially if you are male. Many people will not think that you are ‚cute‘ but rather silly or even worse.

This article gives an in-depth explanation of many aspects of Aegyo.

 

Akgae

Someone who „stans“ to an extreme extent only one member of the group while actively disliking the others, often expressing their dislike and pushing for more attention for their bias.

All-Kill

An all-kill is when a group’s song or album simultaneously takes the top spot of all eight Korean music charts. While it’s expected of the top groups K-pop has to offer, for a rookie or newbie group to reach all-kill status is quite the accomplishment. The first all-kill is usually a good sign that a group is on the path to huge popularity.

B

Bias

If you tell someone you’re a K-pop fan, be prepared to answer the inevitable question, “Who’s your bias?” In a group, there may be anywhere between four and 13 members, but your bias is simply your favorite. Same goes for a “bias group”—it’s the group you love the most in K-pop.

Beware of the bias-wrecker also. It’s a common term K-pop fans use to describe the one member of the group who makes you question your love for your declared bias.

BJ (Broadcast Jockey)

It’s used mostly for live streaming sites in Korea like Afreeca, but you can find Korean BJs on the IRL section on Twitch or on Youtube as well. Usually attractive young women that show themselves eating (Mukbang), watching funny videos or sometimes playing games. The more lewd ones wear skimpy outfits and dance occasionally. It has become quite popular recently and some even make money with it.

C

Co-ed

A kpop group with *gasp* both guys and girls. There are very few of these around, folks. Quite a few performances of same-sex groups with opposite-sex backup dancers, though. Also, check out K.A.R.D for a contemporary co-ed that isn’t doing the sexy concept.

Comeback

A comeback marks a K-pop group coming back with new music. It’s the equivalent of saying a group is releasing a new album, but instead K-pop fans say that a group is having a comeback. When an idol/group pops back up in the Kpop scene with a new single or album, i.e enters a new ‘era’. An era is the time an idol/group promotes a particular album or song, so called because they tend to have a certain image and style according to the concept of the comeback for its duration.

Idols work hard to prepare new comebacks for their fans, practicing choreography, recording, and filming the accompanying music video for months before the release. As such, they release teaser videos, photos, and album medleys, which is a compilation of 10-second previews of all the new songs on the album.

Comebacks often employ a concept, which dictates what kind of feel the song will give and what style will define the fashion. The concepts are most notable through the music videos and stage performances.

D

Daebak

Daebak (대박) is used quitee often by netizens, meaning ‚wow‘ or ‚amazing‘.

Daesang

The Daesang award is one of the highest achievements a group or artist can achieve. Winning a Daesang focuses on the records released by artists that year and how many copies they sold, both physically and digitally. It is awarded at the two prominent Korean music award shows, the Golden Disk Awards and the Seoul Music Awards.

Dream Concert

Dream Concert (드림콘서트) is one of the largest K-pop joint concerts in South Korea, which has been annually hosted by the Korea Entertainment Producer’s Association (KEPA) since 1995. Each year, a number of the most popular K-pop artists of the year join the event for performance.

E

Eye smile

Idols with eye smiles often look happiest, and fans adore when they sport them. An eye smile happens when an idol’s eyes turn into tiny crescents when they laugh or express joy, looking like smiles themselves.

F

Fan club

Behind every K-pop group is a dedicated fan club, big or small, and they play a vital role in a group’s success. When a group gets big enough, its fans earn an official fan club name and color. In Korea fans sometimes officially register with a group’s fan club, but it’s not necessary to do so to become a member. In fact, you don’t have to do anything to become a member of a fan club. As long as you enjoy or support a group, you can choose to identify with that fan club—from wherever in the world you are.

Fan colors are most important for the light sticks fans wave at concerts, which even have a unique design. To top it all off, fan clubs also practice fan chants, which they shout at concerts and performances. It can be anything from echoing a part of the lyrics to chanting all the members’ names in a music break, usually in age order.

G

Gayo

At the end of each year, the three major Korean broadcasting companies—SBS, MBC, and KBS—host year-end festival shows of similar names. There’s the SBS Gayo Daejun, MBC Gayo Daejejun, and the KBS Gayo Daechukje. Each show is packed with special stages and performances. Stars perform renditions and remixes of their most popular songs from the year, and also form rare collaborations.

H

Honorifics

Korean culture values respect for elders, and as such, employs an honorifics system. You’ll hear K-pop stars use them with each other, and fans use them in regards to their idols. Here’s the breakdown: a male calls an older male “hyung” and an older female “noona.” For a female, she would call an older male “oppa” and an older female “unni.”

Since females comprise the overwhelming majority of K-pop fans, “oppa” is heard most often when a girl refers to one of her favorite idols. You’ll notice male stars call each other “hyung” on broadcasts all the time too.

Hoobae

Hubae (후배) means ‚junior‘ in Korean and is used to address people much young than you. Another word for addressing a junior is dongsaeng.

Hwaiting

화이팅 (romanized “hwaiting” but pronounced more like “hoy-ting” and also sometimes written as “paiting”), is used as a cheer or word of encouragement–like “Let’s go” or “Do your best”–but can also be used as “good luck” to someone before a test or endeavor of some kind.

At sporting events, the crowd will cheer on their team with 화이팅, sometimes preceded by 아자아자aja aja! just to get pumped up, and in international matches: 대한민국회이팅!! daehanmin-guk, hwaiting!! or even 코리아 화이팅!! koria hwaiting!! Go, Korea!! (www.transparent.com/korean/hwaiting-fighting/)

아자 (ah-ja) can used similarly as “Let’s go” or “Let’s do it” alone, as well as with hwaiting.

I

Idol

In Korea all idols are celebrities, but not all celebrities are idols. Someone reaches idol status after training for years and successfully debuting either as a soloist or in a group. The word “idol” is probably most interchangeable with “K-pop star.”

K

KCON

KCON is the annual Korean music and culture convention that began right here in America. In 2012 Los Angeles held the first KCON festival, and since then has held one every summer. Many different K-pop stars travel from Seoul to attend. They hold fan engagements and perform their newest music at sold-out arena concerts. KCON also boasts a diverse convention floor, where Korean companies can hold booths and give out promotional freebies.

In the last five years, KCON has expanded internationally. In addition to L.A., in 2015 KCON was held in New York City; Saitama, Japan; and Jeju, South Korea. In 2016 the festival added Abu Dhabi; Paris; and Chiba, Japan.

L

Leader

In a group of stars, one among them is declared the leader. Many times the oldest member is the leader, but not always. If not the oldest, then the most versatile member may earn the title. Leadership qualities include speaking multiple languages or having the longest training period.

Leaders act as the spokesperson for the group. They initiate group introductions and give acceptance speeches when their group wins an award. Opposite the leader is the group’s youngest member, known as the “maknae.”

M

Maknae

Maknae (막내) is Korean and refers to the youngest child. If you are the youngest of the group of people you are with, you are considered the maknae. Usually you hear it a lot in kpop.

Mukbang

Mukbangmuk-bang or meokbang (short for 먹는 방송 meogneun bangsong literally „eatcast„) is a live online audiovisual broadcast in which a host eats large amounts of foods while interacting with their audience. Usually done through an internet webcast (such streaming platforms include Afreeca, YouTube, Twitch, etc.), mukbang became popular in South Korea in 2010. Foods ranging from pizza to noodles are consumed in front of a camera for an internet audience (who pay or not, depending on which platform one is watching). Based on the attractiveness of real-time and interactive aspects, eating shows are expanding their influence in Internet broadcasting platforms and serve as a virtual community and a venue for active communication among active Internet users.

In July 2018, the South Korean government announced that it would create and regulate the „mukbang“ guidelines by launching the „National Obesity Management Comprehensive Measures“. It was to establish guidelines for mukbang because it could cause binge eating and harm the public health. As the ‚mukbang‘ has become explosively popular on the broadcasting and the Internet, the news of the establishment of the guideline has been announced. The Ministry of Health and Welfare, which announced the measures, was protesting, and the public opinion on the Blue house petition board was also raised. There were about 40 petitions against mukbang regulations, such as ‚there is no connection between mukbang and binge eating‘ and ‚why the government infringes on individual freedom‘. In particular, ‚Mukbang‘ has become a ‚Korean wave‘ sold abroad, and it has been pointed out that the government is blocking the export route.

Music Shows

In Korea there are four major music shows and two smaller ones where idols promote new songs by performing live. The most popular shows include M!Countdown, Music Bank, Music Core, and Inkigayo, which air from Thursday to Sunday. The Show and Show Champion are the other two, which airs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, respectively.

When searching for music show performances on YouTube, you may have noticed a random-looking string of numbers in the title. That would be none other than the airing date. If you want to find a specific stage, you can include the date for a better search. Be aware that it’s in Korean format however, which lists the year, then the month, then the date. So if you wanted a performance from Aug. 30, 2016, you would type “160830”.

N

Netizen

A simple definition of the term would be a “citizen of the net.” In K-pop there’s netizens and there’s K-netizens, the former being any international fan online and the latter being Korean fans online. While netizens show their support online through many different campaigns such as trending Twitter hashtags or rallying other fans to rack up views on groups’ music videos, some also earn a bad reputation on different K-pop news outlets.

Netizens are notorious for commenting about or critiquing idols and can sometimes be toxic. They discuss topics such as idols’ weight and appearances, talent, plastic surgery, dating rumors, or scandals, among others.

O

OST

Also known as “Original Soundtrack,” an OST refers to songs written specifically for a Korean drama. Stars often lend their voices for drama OSTs, which can help with the promotion of a show. Since idols regularly take acting roles in dramas, they sometimes participate in the soundtracks too. It’s also common for a member of a group to sing on the OST while another member acts in the drama. For example, in this summer’s drama Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, Baekhyun of Exo plays a supporting role and sings “For You” with fellow members Chen and Xiumin for the OST.

P

Point Dance

With every title track comes new choreography, and within that choreography is a point dance. This is the most prominent move of the choreography, usually performed at the beginning of the chorus. When stars are promoting new music, they often teach the point dance to their fans.

R

Rookie

An idol or group that is relatively new and inexperienced. An older group would be called a sunbae group. There is no strict rule that tells how long  a group or artist is considered to be rookie. Many fans say 2 years and 3 comebacks end your rookie status. If you have less comebacks in 2 years after debut, you will end uop being a monster-rookie (and nugu as well).

The girlgroup Wanna.B had their debut („Attention“) in 2015 (ignoring their China pre-debut release here).
They also had 1 comeback later in 2015 („Hands Up“).
A 2nd comeback followed in 2016 („Why“), after that they went on a hiatus.
In early 2019 they had their 3rd comeback („LEGGO“).

That makes 4 years and 3 comebacks after their debut – a monster-rookie group, and, unfortunately, they are still unsuccessful.

Running Man

Running Man is a popular Korean variety show that’s hosted by a fixed cast of six men and one woman. Among the cast members is South Korea’s “MC of the nation” Yoo Jaesuk; actor and “giraffe” Lee Kwangsoo; and the famous Monday Couple, Gary and Song Jihyo.

K-pop idols often guest on this popular show to participate in various challenges with the regular Running Man crew. One of the show’s most well-known games (simply known as the name tag chase game) was one where members wore Velcro name tags on their backs and split up into two teams. The objective was to eliminate the other team’s members by ripping off their name tags.

S

Saesang

In South Korean culture, a sasaeng or sasaeng fan (Hangul: 사생팬) is an over-obsessive fan of a Korean idol, or other public figure, that has engaged in stalking or other behaviour that constitutes an invasion of privacy. The term sasaeng comes from the Korean words sa (Hangul: ) meaning „private“ and saeng (Hangul: ) meaning „life,“ in reference to the fans‘ intrusion into the celebrities‘ private lives. According to estimates given by celebrity managers to Korean media, popular Korean celebrities „have between 500 to 1,000 sasaeng fans“ and are actively followed by about 100 sasaeng fans every day. Sasaeng fans are generally said to be females aged 17 to 22 years old who are driven to commit acts of, in some cases, borderline criminal behavior in order to get the attention of celebrities. These acts may include but are not limited to: seeking out celebrities at their dorms or homes, stealing their personal belongings or information, harassing their family members, and sending idols inappropriate „gifts“ such as lingerie.

Saranghae

Salang hae (사란 해) translates as „I love you“ and is a common phrase used by netizens and can be found in many K-pop lyrics.

Selca

For some reason Koreans say ’selca‘ when they want to say ’selfie‘.

Ships

Common to pretty much all fandoms, not just kpop. Shipping, initially derived from the word relationship, is the desire by fans for two or more people, either real-life people or fictional characters (in this case, two idols) to be in a relationship, romantic or otherwise. A “ship” is the concept of a fictional couple; to “ship” a couple means to have an affinity for the ship; a “shipper” is somebody who ships the ship, basically.

The ship naming conventions in Kpop are usually a combination of the names in the couple. There are popular and unpopular ships for every idol group, but there are some ships that are overarching and legendary within the Kpop fandom itself, like Eunhae (Eunhyuk x Donghae, Super Junior), Yunjae (Yunho x Jaejoong, TVXQ) and Hunhan (Sehun x Luhan, EXO). In the example video above, rather than using Mingyu x Wonwoo = Minwoo, which itself is a given name and so would make a confusing ship name, the convention is Mingyu x Mr. Beanie (Wonwoo’s nickname)= Meanie.

Stan

An ‘overzealous and obsessive’ fan, according to google. It’s not used in a negative sense*, however. An enthusiastic and dedicated fan would be a better definition. ‘Stanning’ is the verb form, many netizens write things like „Who else here stans Twice?“.

*The term goes back to american hip-hopper Enimen who coined the term in his song „Stan“ (feat. Dido) in a very negative way.

Sunbae

Seonbae (선배해) is a term used to address your seniors, similar to oppa, noona, etc. This is used when the age gap is large.

The opposite term is Hoobae.

T

Trainee

Before becoming a star, a K-pop idol must first be a trainee. K-pop has a reputation for producing picture-perfect pop stars, and its rigorous trainee program is the reason why. Most stars join a company as a trainee as early as 12 years old, learning how to sing, dance, and speak new languages—especially foreign trainees who must study Korean. 

The training period transforms talented kids into flawless idols, but it’s also one of the most harsh and demanding programs out there.

U

Ultimate

Much like you have a bias, you may also have an ultimate bias. The ultimate bias is the king or queen of your bias list. The scope reaches out to the whole K-pop genre rather than just one specific group.

V

V app

Relatively new to K-pop is the V app, which is a platform for idols to livestream to their fans, available on iTunes and Google Play. Some V app appearances are scheduled, but sometimes idols just turn it on at random to share what they’re up to. Since launching last year, the app has become a hit among both idols and fans.

V is free to download and free to watch, though there is some premium content available for purchase as well. Since the broadcasts are online, you can tune in via desktop or mobile, and navigating the channels will help you find content from your favorite groups. English subtitles are also added fairly quickly, making it easily accessible for international fans.

Visual

Every member of an idol group has (a) designated role(s) like lead dancer, rapper, vocal, sub-vocal… and visual. If they’re a visual, that means one of their roles is to look hot. If they’re the ‘main visual’, they’re supposed to be the hottest in the group. If their ‘visuals are good’, they look good.

W

‚Weekly Idol‘

Besides singing, dancing, and modeling, idols are expected to have exceptional variety skills, and what better place to showcase them than on the variety show Weekly Idol? The show guarantees a good laugh and a chance for idols to show off their personalities. Weekly Idol features hilarious segments like “Random Play Dance,” where idols have to pick up the choreography at any point in a song and execute it perfectly. They also participate in various challenges where they’re rewarded with highly coveted, premium Korean beef or punished with embarrassing actions like writing their names with their butts.

If you’re trying to learn the members of a group or figure out who your bias is, Weekly Idol is highly recommended. 

X

X-Dressing

For some reason, male idol groups prepare cross-dressing stages all the time. Stars pick a popular girl group song, get custom-made outfits, and learn the choreography. Sometimes they even sing the high-pitched songs themselves, and the manlier the idol, the funnier it is. It’s actually not uncommon at all, and groups usually do this for special concerts or music programs as a treat for fans. Although there is still a heavy social stigma around homosexuality and transgender topics, cross-dressing idols aren’t seen as strange and are enjoyed by many.