K-drama Terms That May Save Your Life
Or not. But yeah, if you watch k-dramas, you’ll see these terms a lot, and you may start wondering what they mean, so here is just a few of them and their meanings.
K-drama – Korean drama
Saguek – a historical Korean drama usually set before the 20th century. They are notoriously long, ranging from 50 to 120 or more episodes.
Fusion saguek – this is not a true saguek, often because it is short, maybe 25-35 episodes long, or because it employs a storyline that is not truly historical (time travel, historical what-if twists)
Makjang – the American term that comes close to this is soap opera. It’s where the storyline becomes increasingly dramatic and over-the-top, usually with birth secrets, long lost siblings, sudden terminal illnesses, constant car accidents, etc
Chaebol - a rich businessman and his heirs, who are known as 2nd and 3rd generation chaebol. You seriously have no idea how many single, rich men who are heirs of vast fortunes there are until you watch k-dramas.
Oppa, noona, hyung, unnie, and other titles – if you watch k-dramas, you quickly come to realize that someone calling a person by his/her actual name is kinda rare for Koreans, unless that person is close of age or older than the one they are addressing. Otherwise, they use titles, for example: oppa, which can mean older brother, older guy friend.
Honorifics/Speech levels: Now when you first watch k-dramas, you aren’t going to notice this. I didn’t for a while. But after time, you’ll start picking up on the different ways people can talk in Korea, some that are more respectful, less respectful, etc. This often results in a character blurting out, “Are you talking informally with me?” Think of it like some guy employee coming up to you and saying, “Need my help, babe?” when he should be saying, “Can I help you with anything, miss?”
Why is ah/yah at the end of every name?: So you’re watching a show with a girl whose name is Hye-Mi (pronounced Hay-Mee), only you notice that most people who address her by name, call her Hye-Mi-ya. Why? Well, I’m still not exactly sure. Lol. I’ve researched this online many times, and apparently it’s only used by those who are close to that person or talk to them informally (like Hye-Mi’s parents or her best friends).
Why is Ssi at the end of every name?: Ssi (pronounced she) is often attached to names, like Lee Dong-Won-ssi. It is similar to a Mr. or Miss and is considered polite to use it when speaking with something you don’t really know.