Amy S (에이미)
왜 많은 한국 남자들이 "오빠"라고 불리는 걸 좋아합니까? Why do many Korean guys like to be called “Oppa”?
Mar 21, 2017 11:37 AM
Comments · 6

'Oppa' is frequently used by Korean females to address males older than them, but not that much, who they are older brothers, relatively close acquaintances or lover. Mostly, young women use it. Therefore, most Korean men tend to love to be called '오빠' by females younger than them because they're able to feel close to the women and think they're young enough.

On the other hand, adult men are generally called '아저씨'. Not only females but also males can call other men who are not close to them '아저씨'. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1527788 , but beware of brutality of this film)

If you're interested in differences between Asian culture and western culture, I would recommend you a book that 'The Geography Of Thought' (Richard E. Nisibett)


'오빠'는 여자가 자신보다 나이가 많은 남자 형제나 남성 지인, 혹은 연인을 부를 때 쓰는 말입니다. 주로 나이가 어리거나 젊은 여자가 나이 차이가 많지 않은 친한 남성을 부를 때 씁니다.(가족간에는 나이 차이가 커도 '오빠'라고 부릅니다.) 그래서, 상대방 남자가 '오빠' 라고 불리면, 그 여자와 친한 느낌이 들고, 또한 자신이 비교적 젊다는 느낌을 받기 때문에 보통 좋아합니다. 이와는 다르게, 일반적으로 '아저씨'는 성인 이상의 별로 친하지 않은 남성을 부를 때 사용되며, 남성이 다른 남성을 부를 때도 사용합니다.

하지만, 이러한 호칭은 주로 사적인 상황에서 쓰기 때문에, 회사와 같은 공적인 상황에서는 자칫 무례하거나 매우 이상하게 느껴질 수 있습니다. 많은 한국사람들이 사람과 사람간에 관계, 사회 구성원으로서의 개인의 위치 및 역할이 중요합니다. 나이를 중요시 하는 것도 같은 비슷한 이유입니다.

March 22, 2017

For a girl, "Oppa" is not the only way to call her lover. Sometimes, they call "Oppa" with her boy friend's name like "중수오빠" (My wife is two years younger than me and my sister is 6 years younger than me as well. So, I really get used to hearing that in both ways) And a pair of lovers, chiefly for adults, they call "자기" or "(name)씨" each other.


Sometimes, its tone of voice has more meanings than the words literally mean. So to speak, a girl may say "오빠" in a lovely way in contrast with her male sibling.

March 23, 2017
We can say there are two kinds of usage of 오빠 when it's used outside of the sibling relationship.

One is that often there is no other word to call an older male.  Calling them by name can sometimes sound rude even with the suffix 씨 added.  And other address words like 아저씨 and 선생님 are usually for men much older - young men would feel uncomfortable if addressed by these words. So 오빠 or "영철 오빠" may be the only choice.

The other usage is when the female wants to sound more friendly to the person.  
오빠 can have the feel of being trusting and affectionate, so it's the choice word when a female wants to ingratiate herself with an older male.  The best example of this are the female fans of male entertainers.  It is by far the preferred word for them when addressing their idol (there is even a pejorative phrase like 오빠부대, "the oppa brigade" about this phenomenon).
And the effect of this is that some females intentionally avoid 오빠 in case they might get mistaken in their relationship with the men.  For example, it's common on college campuses for female students call older male students 형 ("brother" used by males) to make it clear that they don't have any special fondness for them beyond being fellow students.

So it's hard to generalize, but 오빠 is most commonly used for males who are 1 to 5 years older and who have earned their trust and respect over time.  Adult women don't just call any older male 오빠 as it can sound out of place or even give the person a wrong idea.  As always, the tone of the voice also plays an important role.

From the male standpoint, there is little reason not to like this word, as it means trust and friendliness if anything.

March 26, 2017

Thank you for sharing!  I really enjoy hearing about the different nuances that only a native speaker like yourself would know. These days, it seems "oppa" is a word over-run by international fangirls to address their favorite kpop idols on social media.   Also, in kdramas, it seems to mean,  "handsome older-brother figure whom I'm secretly in love with, and plan to marry when I grow up".

March 26, 2017

That’s interesting to know that “Oppa” is a compliment on age (youthfulness) and degree of closeness. “Ahjussi” is more general and neutral, but does is have a negative connotation of being “too old”?<o:p></o:p>

I think it’s kind of awkward that the same term can be used objectively for an older male sibling, platonically for a familiar male acquaintance, and romantically for a boyfriend/husband.<o:p></o:p>

Since it’s only for younger girls to say “Oppa”, does it imply the older male is protective and doting?  I’m guessing the relationship to younger boys is rather about being wiser and a good example, so they have a different word, “Hyung”,

March 23, 2017
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