Saturday, February 14, 2015

노잼 (No-Jam)


If something or someone is 노잼, it means it's not funny.

A: 어제 개그콘서트 봤어?
Did you watch Gag Concert last night?
B: 응 완전 노잼.
Yes, it was awfully boring.

The prefix 노(no) emanated from English no, simply meaning not. 잼(Jam) is a shortened form of Korean word, 재미(Jaemi: fun), the predicative form of which is 재미있다(Jaemeetda), interchangeably meaning it's fun or it's funny.

It is difficult to assume when people started using this expression. Nevertheless, a catchy slogan from a Double A's commercial possibly inspired the first inventor of this expression.

Monday, February 9, 2015

답정너 (Dapjungno)

답정너 [däp-jəng-nə]


"답은 정해져있고 너는 대답만 해," meaning the answer I want to listen from you is already set, all you need to do is say it.


Situation: A recently has started working out and actually lost weight, so she wants to boast of her achievement.

A: 나 요즘 살 너무 찐거 같아 그렇지? (I think I've gained a lot of weight recently, haven't I?)
B: 무슨소리야! 완전 좋아보이는데. (Of course not! you look great.)


Origin of the expression is unknown because a lot of young Korean people enjoy shortening and abbreviating words and sentences.

Instead, understanding why the term is widely used is more important than creation of the expression itself.

Boasting of things such as your achievement and money is quite frowned upon in Korea because it has long been influenced by Confucianism, which highly values modesty.

In spite of that, some Korean people want to show off, so they found a way to do so by saying stupidly contradictory things about themselves.

For example, everyone can notice that a guy called Kim always studies hard. In a mid-term, he succeeds in getting straight A+s, so he is happy for the return from his hard work. He wants his friends to know his achievement but don't want to look like a boasting jerk. So he tells his friends, "I screwed up my final term, I should have studied more," showing them his exam results. Of course, that pisses off his friends whose grade looks like the prominent broadcaster, BBC.

The obvious intention of those acting 답정너 makes the listeners irritated.

Friday, February 6, 2015

갑 (甲: Gop)

갑 [gäp]


  1. a person who has reached the level of perfection in its expertise, godlike
  2. (usually negative) a person or group of people with social status of authority, dominance over the other party, 을 (Eul)

  1. 와 박지성 챔스에서 첼시 상대로 골 넣었다. 완전 갑임!
    (Wow, Ji-sung Park scored against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League. He's an absolute 갑!)
  2. 최근 일어난 한국 항공사 부사장의 땅콩파문은 전형적인 갑들의 횡포를 보여주고 있어
    The recent "nut-rage" by an executive of a Korean airline shows the typical arrogance of the 갑s.

Origin of 갑 as slang

1. Original meaning
The meaning of 갑 as slang is quite far from its original meaning. 갑 is a general legal term specifically used for contracts. 갑 refers to a contract party who invites a bid for a contract, whose primary contract party is 을, who usually tries (or struggle) to get the contracts. Because of Korea's Chaebol-centered economic structure, 갑 usually has more power in the market. 을 is relatively smaller companies than 갑s in its power, size of capital, or social status.

2. Cause of 갑 in current usage as slang

The birthplace of slang 갑 is a baseball forum of, which has similar characteristics to Reddit or 4chan. 

If you look at the picture on the left, you can see an orange-ish Chinese character, 申, pronounced as Shin.

Actually, the one who was putting up the sign used a wrong word. He or she seemed to try to say 神 (Shin), which means a being beyond human, godlike, but it used 申, a homophone instead.

After spotting the mistake on TV, a guy in the baseball forum wrote a post making fun of the typo. The guy wrote, "What kind of dumb people in the world mistakes 神 (Shin) for 甲(Gop), and what is 종범 甲 anyways?"

(note: 이종범 (Jong Bum Lee) is thought to be a legendary and "godlike" baseball player in Korean baseball history.)

To explain, the guy making fun of the mistake the person made on the tv mistook 申 for 甲, too. Then, the comment section became full of comments laughing at the writer.

After that, people started using 甲 instead of 神 to keep reminding themselves of and laugh at the dumb guy.

Since the baseball forum has a huge impact on Korean internet subculture, it gradually has become widely used among average Netizens.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

대박 (Dae-bak)

대박 (Daebak) [dae:bɑk]

  1. an exclamation of surprise and awe
  2. a thing or event which is unbelievable (can be used both in negative and positive contexts)


1. When used as exclamation 
A: 어제 카페에 갔는데 지드래곤이 나오고 있지뭐야 (When I went to a cafe, I saw G-dragon getting out).
B: 와 대박! (Wow, Daebak!)

2. When used as a noun
A: 전여친한테 헤어진지 1년만에 문자 왔어. (Yesterday my ex-girlfriend sent me a text message a year after we broke up.
B: 대박이네 뭐래? (It's a daebak. what did she say?)

Possible Origin

Dae in daebak means big, and bak refers to a kind of gourd. So, it literally means a big gourd. There's no clear evidence when a big gourd came to be used as an expression of surprise. However, Heungbu & Nolbu Brothers, a well-known Korean folktale obviously has a huge impact on the recent usage of daebak.
In the tale, a big gourd brings unexpected (and fortunate) events to the each main characters. When the main characters cleaved the big gourds in two with a saw, they get a variety of unexpected outcomes. The big gourd symbolizes a surprising, awesome outcome and event in the tale.
If you are interested in the further story, check out following link: