K-Pop is a vibrant, endless world of music, dance, fashion, performance and much more. So naturally, there are some key words you need to know when you enter the fan community. If you’re a long-time K-pop fan, you probably already know them, but if you’re a newbie, it’s time to take notes!
K-pop and Korean dictionary: meaning, definition, explanation.
Means super cute. Idols are often asked to show their „aegyo“ on variety and talk shows, and it’s usually funnier when it’s a serious idol softening their image. This can mean anything from singing nursery rhymes to imitating popular dances.
This is when a song takes the top spot on all eight Korean music charts. This is quite hard to achieve as some of these charts are updated every hour. It is a great achievement for any idol group that achieves an All-Kill.
This refers to idols that were born in the same year. For example: Jungkook from BTS and Yugyeom from GOT7 are both 97s.
Almost every idol group has a designated leader. This person is usually responsible for organizing the group and acts as an intermediary between their agency and the group. He or she also usually begins introducing the group to the public and is the first to speak at awards ceremonies. Leaders are not always the most senior members of their group!
Abbreviated to anti, this simply means that someone hates a particular celebrity.
A Korean term for older, married women or grandmothers. Stereotypically, these women wear short, permed hair, moo-moos, or pants like a uniform. This term is an insult to middle-aged women, like calling a middle-aged woman „grandma.“
A polite term for a man who is older than you, especially if you don’t know him well. Literally it means „uncle,“ but is used similarly to the term „sir“ in English.
This Korean word means „no way“ and is used in moments of disbelief, shock, fear, or defiance, especially when reading about the latest scandal or watching a melodrama.
South Korea requires all male citizens to serve two years in the military, including idols, actors, and flower children. This means that these famous young men must disappear from the limelight during this time, and upon their return, they are expected to show off a six-pack and a robust manhood.
A girl with a mature figure and a baby face.
Term for Korean side dishes. See: What is Banchan?
The members of an idol group who are the most playful and/or loudest, not unlike a real beagle.
„Bias“ is usually the first word a new K-pop fan learns. „Bias“ refers to a fan’s favorite member of a group. „Bias group“ is also often used to describe a fan’s favorite group. „Ult bias“ is short for „ultimate bias“ and is often used to refer to a fan’s favorite idol of all the groups they are a fan of.
You know how you would normally be asked, „Who is your favorite member of XX?“ Well, bias means exactly the same thing. Your bias is your favorite member in a group; your bias group is your favorite group.
ultimate bias – your absolute favorite member of all idol groups;
bias wrecker: a member of a group that makes you switch from your current favorite in that group.
A dance move performed by both male and female idols to drive fans crazy.
A close relationship between two male idols or actors that seems almost romantic, but often platonic.
„Center“ is often used to refer to the „face of the group“ (another common K-pop term), describing the member who is most often the focus of a group’s choreography. The focus is often the group or member that fans are most likely to think of when they think of the band. An example would be Nayeon from TWICE.
A classic character type used in Korean dramas, representing a rich heir to a family business played by male leads.
Cheongmal: An expression of disbelief and annoyance, similar to how the English use the exclamation „Really?!“.
The abbreviation for „commercial film“ featuring popular K-drama and K-pop stars.
Korean food. Chimaek is deep-fried chicken. See: What is Chimaek?
An expression that can also be interpreted as „really?!“ or „are you serious?!“.
Literally an elementary school child, but is often used to refer to someone who acts childishly and uses a lot of aegyo.
When groups release new music, it’s called a comeback. It’s basically the same as any other music group releasing a new album. A comeback is usually a multi-step process involving teaser images and videos, tracklists, and sometimes even advance single releases.
There is also often a concept or theme that the group sticks to throughout the promotional phase.
„Daebak“ is said when something is „cool“ or „good.“ See: What does „daebak“ mean?
A Daesang is the highest award an idol can receive. They are usually awarded in categories such as „Album of the Year“, „Song of the Year“ or „Artist of the Year“ and are based on sales figures.
See: What does „Daesang“ mean?
Although „debut“ is a word used for music genres other than K-pop, in K-pop it is often used to refer to a trainee who has become an idol through the release of his or her first official single (either solo or in a group) or through his or her first public appearance.
Anyone younger than oneself, regardless of gender. This is used among siblings, friends, and even when flirting. Depending on the situation, anyone can be considered the dongsaeng of the group. It is important to identify this person, especially at meals, as they have certain roles and expectations in society.
The Big Three (The big 3):
These are the so-called big three entertainment groups in Korea, although this designation is very open to interpretation.
The „big three“ refers to the three major entertainment corporations that have launched the most successful acts and are said to have had a major influence on K-pop:
- SM Entertainment (Girls‘ Generation, Super Junior, SHINee),
- JYP Entertainment (TWICE, Wonder Girls, Miss A) and
- YG Entertainment (BLACKPINK, 2NE1, Big Bang).
There is a debate on whether the „Big Three“ should be expanded to the „Big Four“ to include Big Hit Entertainment, which manages BTS and TXT, but many fans argue that Big Hit does not belong in the same category as SM, JYP and YG because it is a newer company and did not exist at the same time as the early days of the „Big Three.“
The crease that forms at the base of the brow bone and around the eyeball when you open the eye, and is common in Westerners. In many cultures, this is considered the ideal of beauty. The opposite of a monolid.
A formal term meaning „mother“ and often shortened to the less formal eomma or umma, meaning „mom“ or „mommy.“
Crescent-shaped eyes created by smiling. This technique is used by Korean celebrities to convey sweetness, affection, flirting, and even a clever way of getting out of trouble.
A portmanteau of the words fan and realm, encompassing all lovers of Korean pop culture.
Fanboy and Fangirl:
These terms can be used as nouns to describe someone who has strong, passionate feelings about K-pop or K-drama, especially in relation to their likes and favorite group. As a verb, fanboying and fangirling are usually manifested by uncontrollable physical and emotional outbursts in response to seeing, hearing, touching, or smelling a preference or favorite group.
A free option where followers of a particular idol or group can receive official information and updates from entertainment companies, ask questions of officials and other fans, or search for new releases. Followers of these virtual communities can go through an „advancement“ process, different for each café, to read messages from idols and groups or leave their own messages. The big three have discontinued their fan cafes in exchange for publishing content on their official websites.
Words shouted by fans at performances. This usually involves naming all the members of a group during the intro to their song and then repeating certain words or lines throughout the performance.
When idols and actors do something just to please fans, even if it is not necessary or relevant to the progress of the plot or performance. This can range from an on-screen bromance to body rolling on stage to shower scenes in movies.
At the end of each year, we can bask in special stages and performances by idols thanks to three festival shows: KBS Gayo, MBC Gayo and SBS Gayo. It’s a chance to see special collaborations between groups that usually go down in K-pop history.
Means: „close friend.“ See: What does Gganbu mean?
Name of traditional Croatian clothing (traditional costumes). See: What is Hanbok?
Name of the Korean alphabet. See: What is hangul?
„Korean wave.“ See: What is Hallyu?
Youngest member of a band. See: What does hoobae mean?
Sometimes translated as „fighting,“ it is an expression of support, cheering someone on.
„Hyung“ means „older brother“ in Korean. The term „hyung“ is used by boys or men. (See: What does oppa / unni mean?).
But the term is also often used between younger and older members of boy bands. An example is Jungkook of BTS, who often calls RM, who is three years older than him, „RapMon Hyung“.
An idol is a K-pop star. They can be solo artists or part of a group, but generally they are artists who have trained for a certain amount of time before debuting with an entertainment agency.
Korean rice dish. See: What is Kimbap?
The word „line“ is used to group together members of a band who are similar. Rap line is one of the most commonly used lines to describe K-pop idols. The term refers to the rappers in a band, such as RM, Suga, and J-Hope of BTS. Fans have also used the word line to describe personalities that match each other, such as a band’s Introverted Line. For groups with members from different countries, the word Line is also used to group together members with similar backgrounds, such as TWICE’s Japanese Line, which includes Sana, Momo, and Mina.
Like „main,“ the word „lead“ is often used to describe the lead singer, lead rapper, or lead dancer of a group who is second only to the main singer, main rapper, or main dancer.
„Main“ is often used to describe the main singer, main rapper, or main dancer of a group. The word is used to refer to the member who has the best voice, has the best rap technique, or is the best dancer.
„Maknae“ is the youngest member of an idol group. Related: Golden Maknae – the youngest member who is an impressive multi-talent despite his young age.
McDonalds BTS Meal:
Special McDonalds menu created in collaboration with BTS.
In these shows, the idols perform their music in front of the audience. Usually, fans get a first look at the choreography of a song here, and depending on the group, they may perform several times in an episode. Among the most popular shows are M! Countdown, Music Bank, Music Core, Show Champion, The Show, and Inkigayo.
Means „love.“ You can learn more about „Saranghae“ here.
„Sasaeng“ refers to fans who have crossed the line into being stalkers. These are fans who invade the idols‘ privacy or make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe in some way. An example of a sasaeng is a German man who bought business class seats on the same flight as TWICE and tried to give Nayeon a handful of letters he had written.
Selfie / self-portrait. See: What does „Selca“ mean?
Particularly taut abdominal muscles, usually in a man, resembling the parts of a Hershey’s bar. Also called the „M-line“ in reference to the shape created by muscle definition.
What happens when a large group of fans simultaneously turn off their glow sticks during a performance to avoid a group or artist. This is an organized effort carried out by fan club leaders in advance via the Internet that can lead to the ruination of careers.
This is usually the part of a song that fans think is the best part. It can be related to the music or choreography and can be anything from a key change to a bass drop to a specific gesture in the dance.
Experienced Member/Senior. See: What does sunbae mean?
Before idols become idols, they are trainees. Entertainment companies scout for talent and then train their recruits to become perfect pop stars. The programs are rigorous and intense, and some idols train for several years before being accepted into a group. Training includes everything from singing and dancing to learning new languages.
„Unnie“ means „older sister“ in Korean. In K-pop, the term is often used between younger and older members of girl groups, such as when Tzuyu from TWICE calls Nayeon „Nayeon Unnie.“
This is a smaller K-pop group within a larger idol group. They give certain members the opportunity to showcase certain talents or try different styles of music. For example, large groups like SEVENTEEN have vocal, performance, and rap units that release their music separately to give each member a chance to shine.
Means „best face“ and means that someone is very good looking. See: What does Ulzzang mean?
All K-pop idols are attractive, but the word „visual“ often refers to the most attractive member of a group, based on Korean beauty standards. The word is controversial among American fans, and there is a lot of debate about who the visuals of certain groups are. But a couple of the most recognized visuals are Jisoo from BLACKPINK or Jin from BTS.
If you want to keep up with the idols, V Live is a must. This is a livestream platform where most K-pop idols have an official account. Some upload entire episodes of behind-the-scenes footage, while others use the platform to livestream from their hotels after performances. It’s a great place to engage with many groups!
This television show has recently been revamped, leading to a decline in its popularity, but it used to be considered the ultimate variety program where idols could show off their funny sides. It is a treasure trove of gags, games and challenges, in which almost every idol you can imagine has appeared.