All posts filed under: Slang

썸 타다

I love picking up new Korean slang.  Once you have a new word or phrase down, it’s like a whole new vista of meaning opens up.  All of a sudden, drama dialogue, radio shows, tweets, and forums start making more sense and you start hearing the word everywhere. That’s how I felt when I learned 썸타다. I first came across the word 썸 as the title of a popular song that was topping the charts about a year ago.  I thought it was a bit odd, but hey, a lot of songs have nonsensical titles, so I didn’t give it a second thought.  Funnily enough, the lyrics of the song describe EXACTLY what the title means, but I only discovered that recently. Anyway, I’d been hearing the phrase ‘썸 타다’ over and over again in the drama 호구의 사랑 (Hogu’s Love).  It wasn’t until that scene where Hokyung presents “research” on the concept that it first occurred to me that this is some (pun intended!) type of slang.  Heh.  She says: “‘썸’은 썸띵(something)에서 파생된 단어다. 시간이 돈인 현대 사회에서는 짧은 시간 안에 최적의 파트너를 골라내야 한다”며 …

백마병 & 도끼병

If you watch Korean dramas, you’re probably already familiar with 왕자병 (“prince disease”) and 공주병 (“princess disease”) – words that basically describe obnoxiously entitled, often 싸가지 없는 youth (an excellent example is 이승기’s character in 찬란한 유산). 백마병 and 또기병 fall under a similar category of exasperating people to be around.  Any idea what they might mean? A prince usually rides 백마 (a white horse) while traveling or making ceremonial rounds through local villages, and the commoners bow and clap for the prince.  However, the horse, not knowing any better, prances and preens thinking all the attention is for itself.  It follows that 백마병 describes a condition in which a person always thinks another party is interested in them. 도끼병 describes the same type of person.  도끼 is “axe” which goes in hand with 찍다, meaning to chop (도끼로 찍다 = to chop with an axe).  However, in a colloquial way, the verb 찍다 can also take a person as topic or direct object and mean “to claim”, “to indicate”, “to name as one’s own”, “to have …

뷁!

I thought 헐 was just about the greatest thing, until my LP 언니 taught me this gem. 뷁 is used on the internet when there is no appropriate exclamation or word to describe the extent of one’s dissatisfaction.  That is: NOUN+은/는 좋지 않다 can become NOUN+은/는 뷁같다 or 뷁스럽다. I imagine this is used kind of like “blehhhh” or “mehhhh” – general, noncommittal sounds of dissatisfaction in English.  It’s embarrassing how often I use ‘bleh’/’meh’ to express myself at the cost of using more intelligent adjectives, and now I can do it Korean too!  Not good.  Heh. So I tried looking up a few other things about this word (can you call it a word, even?) and found out that it originated from a lyric that went “왜 날 브레이크” from Moon Heejun (of H.O.T)’s solo song “I.”  When said quickly, 브레이크 (‘break’) sounds a lot like 뷁.  The funny thing is that netizens made fun of the song and his pronunciation by pasting his face onto 100원 coins (백원 = 뷁원).  So mean!  Check out the original …

마의 16세

This is the funniest piece of Korean slang I have learned EVER.  It’s pure gold. So here’s the context.  The phrase is 마의 16세.  마(魔) comes from 마귀 마, where 마귀 means ‘evil spirit’ or ‘demon.’  It’s the same 마 that’s in 악마 (‘demon’, ‘devil’), 마술 and 마법 (‘witchcraft’, ‘magic’), and 마녀 (‘witch’).  So not a good thing, right?  16세 is sixteen years old, in Korean age (so 14/15 Western age), and this is significant because it is the age when students finish middle school and enter high school. Basically, 마의 16세 refers to one’s transition from an adorable child to an awkward young adult.  Puberty hits and, bam, so does the acne, the growth spurts (either vertically or horizontally), the braces, the glasses – all the physical and emotional changes that made the transition from child to teenager oh-so painful.  This phrase covers the latter part of puberty – the transition into adulthood – and, interestingly, it seems to apply mostly to boys, whose physical appearance changes more dramatically in a short period of time (in some instances), …

멘붕

I get the sense that words in Korea come and go like fashion statements.  Obviously, since I don’t live in Korea and I don’t hear Korean around me all the time, it’s hard to pick up on current slang; when I do encounter one inadvertently in a variety show or drama, it usually requires a bit of sleuthing before I can piece together its meaning. Let me tell you about this word though.  멘붕. So graduate school and life has kept me really busy, but I do try to squeeze in a little bit of Korean exposure everyday.  Granted, I don’t read or listen to nearly as much Korean as  I used to a year ago, and yet – and yet – I managed to encounter this word about five times in the course of three days and twice in the same drama. 멘붕 is a 신조어 (newly-coined word) or, as my friend Yekyung likes to call it, a 외계어 (a meaningless, made-up word) which stands for 멘탈 붕괴.  Let’s break it down. 멘탈:  mental 붕괴:  무너짐 (collapse, …