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What is oppa in Korean?


In Korean culture, it is common for people to use specific titles to address each other depending on their relationship and age. One of the most commonly used titles is ‘oppa,’ which is often used by younger women to refer to older male siblings or older male acquaintances. This article will explore the meaning of ‘oppa’ in Korean culture and its usage.


The word ‘oppa’ is derived from the Korean language, and it means ‘older brother.’ However, it is not limited to biological siblings only. It is also used as a term of endearment for older male acquaintances.


In Korean culture, calling someone ‘oppa’ is a way of showing respect and affection towards an older male. Women often use this term to address their older brothers, male cousins, or close male friends. It can also be used as a term of endearment between couples in a romantic relationship.

Age Difference

The use of ‘oppa’ depends on the age difference between the speaker and the person being addressed. Generally, it is used by women who are younger than the man they are addressing, but not too young. For example, women in their late teens or early twenties might use this term to address men in their late twenties or early thirties.

Other Similar Terms

In addition to ‘oppa,’ there are other similar terms that are commonly used in Korean culture. For example, ‘hyung’ is used by younger men to address older male siblings or older male acquaintances. Similarly, ‘unnie’ is used by younger women to address older female siblings or older female acquaintances.

Cultural Significance

The use of specific titles like ‘oppa’ is an important aspect of Korean culture. It reflects the importance of hierarchy and respect for elders in Korean society. Using these titles helps to establish social hierarchies and maintain social order.

Emotional Significance

The use of ‘oppa’ also has emotional significance in Korean culture. It is a term of endearment and affection that shows the closeness and intimacy between two people. By calling someone ‘oppa,’ a woman is expressing her fondness and admiration towards him.

Gender Roles

The use of ‘oppa’ also reflects traditional gender roles in Korean society. Women are expected to show respect towards older men and address them with honorific titles like ‘oppa.’ This reinforces the idea that men are superior to women and should be treated with deference.

Pop Culture References

The use of ‘oppa’ has become a popular cultural reference in Korean pop culture. Many K-pop songs use this term in their lyrics, and it has become a common trope in Korean dramas. This has helped to popularize the term among non-Koreans as well.

Internet Slang

In recent years, the use of ‘oppa’ has extended beyond its traditional usage. It has become a popular term of endearment among young people on the internet, particularly among fans of Korean pop culture. This has led to the creation of new slang terms like ‘oppaya,’ which is a combination of ‘oppa’ and ‘ya,’ a common word used for emphasis.


Despite its popularity, the use of ‘oppa’ can sometimes lead to misunderstandings or even offense if used incorrectly. For example, using ‘oppa’ to address someone who is not actually your older brother or close male friend can be seen as disrespectful or inappropriate.


‘Oppa’ is a popular term of endearment in Korean culture that reflects the importance of hierarchy, respect for elders, and traditional gender roles. While it has become a popular cultural reference in recent years, it is important to use this term correctly and respectfully to avoid misunderstandings or offense.

Is Oppa a boyfriend?

Oppa is a term used to refer to an older brother or man in a friendly manner, but it can also be used to refer to a boyfriend or husband. It does not necessarily indicate a romantic relationship.

What do Koreans call their boyfriends?

The Korean term of endearment “Namjachingu” is used to refer to a boyfriend. It is a combination of two Korean words, “namja” meaning “man” and “chingu” meaning “friend”.

Can you call a girl oppa?

The term “oppa,” commonly used in Korean dramas, can be uncomfortable for some men due to its portrayal in these shows. While it originally means “older brother” in reference to a female, it can also be used to refer to a friend who is older than oneself.

Who uses oppa in Korean?

In Korean, the term “oppa” is used by women to refer to an older male, often as a sign of respect and affection. However, the meaning of “oppa” can also vary depending on the relationship between the speaker and the person being addressed, and can be used to refer to romantic partners, close friends, or older relatives.

What do Korean call their girlfriend?

The Korean word “여자친구” (yeo-ja-chin-gu) means “girlfriend” and is formed from “여자” (yeoja), which means “woman,” and “친구” (chingu), which means “friend.”

Which BTS member is Oppa?

Jin is the oldest member of BTS and fans of the band may know him as the singer behind the unexpected hit “Super Tuna.” However, even before his musical career, Jin has a passion for fishing and enjoys this hobby in his rare moments of free time.

It’s worth noting that the use of honorific titles in Korean society extends beyond just ‘oppa’ and similar terms. There are a variety of titles used to show respect and hierarchy, based on factors like age, gender, and social status. This can make communication in Korean culture somewhat complex, as the appropriate title to use can depend on many different factors.

In addition to the emotional significance of ‘oppa’ mentioned earlier, it’s also worth noting that the term can be used playfully or flirtatiously in certain contexts. This is especially true in romantic relationships, where calling someone ‘oppa’ can be seen as a way of expressing affection or attraction. However, it’s important to note that this usage is not universal and can depend on the individuals involved.

While ‘oppa’ is primarily used by women to address older men, it’s worth noting that men can also use the term in certain contexts. For example, a younger male may address an older male acquaintance as ‘oppa’ as a sign of respect or affection. However, this usage is less common than among women.

Overall, understanding the usage and cultural significance of ‘oppa’ can provide valuable insight into Korean culture and communication. While it may seem confusing or complex at first, taking the time to learn and use proper honorifics can go a long way towards showing respect and building positive relationships.

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