K-pop slang you should know: part 2

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Autor: Mar Montiel-Cerón

Welcome back to the second part of the K-pop slang you should know. In this blog, we will talk about the different albums and merchandise of the groups, as well as the main honorifics and expressions used by them. Finally, we will learn about the sites where fans upload content and a few more concepts. So get your favorite drink ready and dive back into the world of K-pop slang.


This time I recommend you to watch (여자)아이들((G)I-DLE) – ‘퀸카 (Queencard)’! 🎶

Taken from Pinterest

Let’s start with “Generations” and “Eras” in K-pop, a generation known as the period in which groups and solo artists debut, and each one has certain rhythms and fashions that define the sound and image. By today, four generations have passed, and we are currently in the transition to start the fifth. As for the eras, this concept corresponds to different albums or comebacks. Because every single one has a unique theme and style, and everything revolves around it. The promotions and shows defined the duration, and usually, the end of an era comes with the last music video or the last concert, and the beginning of each one comes with the announcement of a comeback.

H.O.T the first K-pop band in history. Taken from Pinterest.

In South Korea, there are honorifics to refer to someone. In K-pop, the honorifics depend on age, career, and position or characteristics in the group. Below, we will name the most commonly used ones. The first two honorifics are linked to experience in the industry,; for example, “Sunbae (선배)” refers to those who debuted earlier and therefore have more experience. While “Hoobae (후베)” refers to someone who debuted later. Both terms are not gender dependent and can be used by both, men and women. The relationship between them is one of respect and admiration, hoobae must show respect to their superiors, and sunbae pass knowledge and experiences to their juniors. Whenever idols meet a sunbae at a show or performance, it is polite to show them respect by greeting them in the dressing room and giving them the album currently promoted as a gift. Likewise, whenever an artist comes across a superior, the first thing to do is to greet them with a bow. “Nuna 누나” and “Oppa 오빠” are two terms used by someone junior to refer to someone senior of the opposite sex. Women are the ones who use oppa, and men use nuna. And if it is someone older of the same sex, men use “Hyung 형” while women use “Onni 언니”.

The next two terms refers to a gestures that are consider polite. “Manner hands and Manner legs”, the first one refers to when a man reaches out to touch a woman but never actually does, so this is considered a courtesy to protect boundaries. The second is talking about a person (commonly a man) who is tall and how he accommodates the height of someone shorter. As in K-dramas, when the guy accommodates a girl’s height by spreading his legs.

T.O.P with Kim Yoo Jung at the press conference for the movie "Commitment" in 2013. Taken from Koreaboo.

It’s very common that once you start following K-pop, you begin speaking using Korean expressions. The most used ones are: “Omo!  오모” whose equivalent is “Oh my goodness!”. “Andwae 안돼” which is “It can’t be.” “Ottoke 어떻게” whose meaning would be “Now what?” or “What do I do?”. “Jeongmal 정말” is used to say “Really?” or Really?” and is very similar to “Chincha 진짜” which translates literally as “Really?” However, its meaning varies depending on the context. Finally, the most popular of all is “Fighting! 화이팅” which means “You can do it!”.

But a popular word within the community that does not come from the Korean language is “delulu”, an English expression, that comes from “delusional” and is used for fans who believe they are going to date, marry, or befriend their favorite idol. The term can describe a fan who devotes an unhealthy amount of time and energy to an idol. As a result, one could say that becoming a delulu is the first step towards becoming a sasaeng because it usually includes similar behavior.

Yang Hyun-suk andT.O.P. Taken from Pinterest.

Now, let’s talk about  all the terms that describe actions that fans do or enjoy. First to know is “Fanmeeting” a term used for K-pop artists’ meetings with their fans. In many cases, in these meetings, there is a time to sign the fans’ albums and interact with them; it becomes a “Fansing” where fans bring their albums to be signed by the artist or group members, and while they can have a small talk or even give gifts to the idols. Throughout the fan meetings or performances, fans are recording, and sometimes those moments become memorable and turn into “Fan Made Videos (FMV) and Edits”, which are basically short videos made to highlight a facet or situation linked to their favorite idols or groups and are posted on social media such as Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. Many of these videos are also considered “Fancams”, which are basically videos taken by the fans’ cameras. These ones took on some relevance recently because of some actions carried out by Kpopers on social media, especially on Twitter, and are so popular that sometimes they are officially published.

In addition to the fansites, there are “Fan Clubs” and “Fan Cafes” to obtain information about the idols. In the first case, it refers to the virtual community where fans pay a membership fee and therefore have priority access to weekly concert recordings, advance tickets, meet and greets, and special merchandise; and international fans cannot join. While fan cafes are a free option where fans of an idol or group can get official information and updates posted by entertainment companies, ask questions to officials and fellow fans, or browse new releases. Followers of these virtual communities can go through a “level up” process, which is different in each cafe, to read messages left by idols and groups or leave their own messages.

Jennie from Blackpink at Fansign. Taken from Pinterest.

Finally, there are three concepts that Kpopers enjoy the most. “Stream” is a term that defines the action of repeating, indefinitely and constantly, a music video, album, or single to increase the number of views, get a good position in the music charts, or break world records of views or listens. “Ship” refers to pairing two idols from the same or different groups. Some couples are paired romantically, and others are called soul-mates or friendships destined to exist, normally these couples have a name composed of the names of the two members of the ship. The last word is “Fan service”, which refers to when the idols please and make fans happy. This ranges from singing a specific song, acting in a certain way, dressing up in a specific outfit, or playing with the ships and making them come true for a while.

The legendary ship “Chanbaek” from EXO. Taken from Pinterest.

In K-pop, the types of albums are determined by their content and duration. That is why a “Full Album” has at least 12 songs, and a “Mini Album” has a total of 3 to 6, with an average length of 30 minutes. Whereas “Photobook” is the version that contains a photobook in addition to the music, and this means that the other albums focus on extra content and do not contain a photobook or contain one with far fewer pages. For example, “Deluxe” is an edition that usually has a bit more content than other versions and is, therefore, more expensive. Consequently, the companies almost never used it, as well as “Special album”, the most imprecise term of all, because many agencies understand it differently. And sometimes it is confused with “Limited edition”, which is only available for a time or in a certain number of copies. “Repackage” is a new version of an already-released album with two to four new songs and a totally new physical album.

Other types of albums are “Live albums” which are recorded at concerts so that fans can enjoy the atmosphere at home, and are also known as “Concert albums”. The last two types of albums are the “Mixtape”, which is a hip-hop album that is released in digital format, and most or all of its songs are written and often even produced by the artist; and the “Standard album”, which is the normal version, and this term is only used when there are more versions.

Big Bang's Always is the 1st Mini Album in K-pop history. Taken from Pinterest.

As for “Merchandise (merch)”, in K-pop, there is a wide variety of products that companies put out about the groups, ranging from clothing to alliances with food companies, and that are officially promoted. “Goods” is a concept to refer to everything that has the logo or image of an artist. In this case, the goods may or may not be official. Among the most popular merch are the “Photocards” also known as “pocas” or “PCs”, which are 3″ by 2″ inches glossy paper photos included in K-pop albums and are very appreciated by fans because, although they may not look like much, these photos are collectible and worth hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Another related concept is “Freebies”, which means gifts and refers to the small presents that idols or fans can give you; usually, fans give away fan-made PCs (made by fans) at concerts as a token of affection and support from the fandom. Likewise, there are the well-known “Dolls” plush dolls designed in the image of the idols. These usually have characteristics of the idol in question, such as hair color, moles, eye shape, and expressions, in many cases including costumes used during music videos or live performances.

Girls Generation in 2010 introduced Photocards for the first time. Taken from Pinterest.

In closing, here is a miscellany of concepts that are important to know.

The acronyms “BG” and “GG” refer to the shortened versions of Boy Group and Girl Group. At other times, the terms Male Group or Female Group, and even Male Artist or Female Artist are used too. 

A “Teaser” is a short video that announces the beginning of a new era and the release of a new song. It is common in these to see a bit of the “Concept”, which refers to the theme of the album that will be reflected in the esthetic, sound, and image of the comeback. It is said that there is a “Flop” when the comeback does not have the success that would be expected and therefore is forgettable, that is to say, a resounding failure. The opposite happens with a “Bop”, which refers to a good song or comeback

“Stage presence” refers to the charisma on stage that each idol demonstrates during their performances. While “Duality” is used to make the distinction between two facets that idols show as part of their stage charisma, which are hot and cute. When an idol or group possesses both facets, it is said to have duality. The word “Encore” is used to name the final part of a concert, where the artists get up close and personal with their fans. It is also called this way for the presentations in which the idols sing live at the end of a performance in a program.

Soyeon of ((G)I-DLE) is one of the idols with the greatest stage presence now days. Taken from Pinterest.

This has been all for this blog, and although we have already looked way deep into a lot of concepts, words, and expressions, it is important to remember that each generation creates its own, so the list is always growing. Nevertheless, I hope you had fun and, like me, now you start using “K-pop Slang”

If you liked it, don’t forget to share it and tell me in the comments what is your favorite K-pop slang word. See you next time! 💗

Written by: Marisol Montiel 

Reviewed by: Luisa Quintero

References

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Jason Pham. (septiembre 04, 2020). 25 K-Pop Fandom Words Every K-Pop Stan Should Know. K-Pop Fandom Words: K-Pop Glossary of Slang, Phrases, Terms – StyleCaster

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Kpop Heart Team. (agosto 30, 2020). 20+ Best Kpop Slang Terms Every Fan Must Know in 2022. 20+ Best Kpop Slang Terms Every Fan Must Know In 2022 (kpopheart.com)

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Nolae. (agosto 01, 2021). ¡Te explicamos las diferentes versiones de los álbumes!  ¡Te explicamos las diferentes versiones de los álbumes! — Nolae

Quora. (s.f.). What does it mean to stream a K-pop and how? What does it mean to stream a K-pop and how? – Quora

Soy.marketing. (noviembre 05, 2021). El merchandising en el K-pop. El merchandising en el K-pop (soy.marketing)

Xiahpop. (enero 19, 2019). ¿Qué son los «DOLLS» en el kpop? ¿Qué son los “DOLLS” en el kpop? – XIAHPOP

Appyweb. (s.f.). ¿Qué son los freebies y para qué sirven? ▷ ¿Qué son los Freebies y para qué sirven? 🥇【Diccionario】 (appyweb.es)

Xiahpop. (julio 25, 2020). KPOP: ¿Qué es una fancam? KPOP: ¿Qué es una fancam? – XIAHPOP

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