What does unni mean? Meaning, definition, explanation
The word unni refers to a form of address. This term, of course, has nothing to do with a university or other educational institution.
Specifically, it refers to a female person. This female person is always referred to as a so-called unni, especially by girls or women, when it is an exceedingly kind person. An unni can be a sister, good friend, but also life partner. The latter is especially the case when it is a form of same-sex relationship. Thus, it should also be clear that this term is also primarily used by women to give a designation to other women.
However, one would never call a female person, with whom one is in the unclean, as unni. A real unni is and remains therefore always a person, whom one also really likes very much and partly also worships very much.
The counterpart to „unni“ is „hyung.“ Boys or men address older brothers or older friends (depending on the closeness of the relationship) as „hyung“.
However, especially in South Korea and in K-pop, the term unni is also used in another context. Thus, a successful singer, a model or actress, or a very attractive model may also be referred to as unni.
See: K-Pop / Korean dictionary
What is an oppa? Meaning, definition, explanation
An oppa, unlike what is perhaps more often assumed, is not a grandpa or a man who is in his senior years. Similar to the term unni, it is again a polite and respectful form of address.
But who can be such an oppa? There are a number of possibilities. The oppa is, for example, the friend or life partner of a young woman. Similar to unni, this form of address is mostly used from the female position.
However, an oppa can also be a brother. Thus, if a sister is particularly fond of her brother, she might refer to him as oppa.
Finally, the oppa, similar to the unni, can also be a successful and popular person from the fields of music, film, art or show business.
The opposite of „oppa“ is „noona“. An older sister or a girlfriend of a younger man is addressed as „Noona“.
In 2012, the song „Gangnam Style“ by PSY led to a strong worldwide spread of the expression „oppa“. In the song, PSY sings „Oppa Gangnam Style.“ A song line that has stuck in the minds of many.
Unni / oppa: people who mean a lot
Unni and oppa are not terms that are simply given lightly and without any concern in South Korea and K-pop. It is actually always about people who are either personally very close to you or whom you really admire a lot. The use of the terms almost always comes from women.
What is already reflected in South Korean society with regard to the individual hierarchies can also be seen in the area of language. Women definitely use different terms here than men. Many things are very strictly regulated in South Korea, and this also affects language to a certain extent.
Terms are more a part of the youth language
Unni and oppa are synonyms that are mainly used by girls and young women in South Korea. The older a woman is, the less often she will also speak of unni or oppa. At least, this can be determined as a tendency.
The youth language is very lively in South Korea and is constantly developing. The country’s pop culture also has a great influence on this process. (This refers to K-pop.) It is simply great for very many young people in South Korea to mouth cool and modern words. Also in the future, unni and oppa will surely be part of everyday language use.
South Korea is known above all for its flourishing economy and its colorful cities. But also in the areas of culture and society, this bursting at the seams tiger state has a lot to offer. Thus, there is a whole series of very exciting terms here. Unni and oppa are just a few of the many examples worth mentioning.