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WTH is Aegyo?!

When I stepped into the world of Korean, Japanese and sometimes even Chinese TV shows, dramas and music groups there were many things I totally didn’t understand at first – and still don’t, sometimes. Things like the detailed Korean definition of being “pretty” or “ugly”; their honesty and the way they tease each other in front of the camera; words like “Flower Boy”, “S-Line” and “Aegyo”; things like the harsh Japanese humor and their indiscreet way of combining it with blood splashing horror; the way they make themselves into damn embarrassing fools while trying to win some kind of competition; and many other stuff.

Especially irritating seemed the Korean concept of “being aegyo” (with the Japanese equivalent called “kawaii”) : Of course I’ve never heard that term before let alone the confusing fact that there isn’t really a one-to-one translation or an explanation as to what exactly “aegyo” actually means. While I already knew that the Japanese word “kawaii” can be translated to “cute” or “adorable” I couldn’t get a grab on “aegyo” – since the Korean term for “cute” and/or “adorable” is “kyeopta”.

After watching tons of Korean variety shows, however, this word slowly started to explain itself even though I’m still not too sure about the sense of it.

It’s not like the word “aegyo” is something you can seize or be. Well… no, that’s not completely true because you can be “aegyo” but actually only then if you do something “aegyo”. Let me explain as follows:

“Aegyo” is something – whatever it may be – you do to look cute. It’s not about actually being cute but only looking like it. “Aegyo” describes actions like talking in a high pitched voice or making cute sounds, showing adorable baby faces, act like little kids or lovely animals and display ducky movements with your hands. You can be “aegyo” if you write childish and playful messages. Or if you flirt in a really cute manner. You can also be “aegyo” if you sulk in a way which makes your face look like that of a sad kitten. Or a little puppy.

Whatever it may be: “Aegyo” is supposed to provoke other peoples “OMG, you’re so freakin’ adorable!”-thought. Korean women like to use stuff like a high pitched voice or a cute sulking face to appeal to men because many guys in South Korea apparently like adorable little dolls… and I do understand that sometimes. ^^

In a lot of Korean variety shows idols, actors and actresses are often urged to present some kind of “personal aegyo” – so something they invented themselves (because they don’t want to think of something new every time they’re asked on TV) which led to the fact that they’re a TON of different “aegyo”s going around nowadays. While female idols try to be pretty and lovely but not too ducky because it could seem a little bit dumb is it quite the opposite with male idols: They can’t be ducky enough! The cuter the better! Make yourself look like a baby and your fans will go crazy. Trust me: Female Korean kpop-fans love adult baby boys! Oh yeah, and oversea fans do, too!

Examples:

Yang Yoseob is the main vocalist of Korean boy group BEAST and one of the so called “King of Aegyo”s. Guys like him are the perfect aegyo-people because they already have an adorable baby face and most of the times a tiny body. On top of that his freakin’ cute voice! >.< He’s calling his mum in the video below and  – obviously – using a baby voice to show some aegyo to his fans.

By the way: This show’s called “Gag Concert”.

2PM is a Korean boy group with six members: Jun.K, Nichkhun, Taecyeon, Wooyoung, Junho and Chansung (in the order of their age and beginning with the oldest). Even though everyone has their own charming “aegyo” is it really member Junho who’s the best at this because… gawww, just look at his face! Eye-smile-alert!! 😀 The video pretty much explains itself because it has English subtitles.

This show is called “Happy Clinic”.

Sooyoung is a member of Korean girl group GIRLS GENERATION (or SNSD) and doing the  – probably – most famous “aegyo” in the whole country: Gwiyomi. “Gwiyomi” is actually a song and the gestures kind of a choreography but they change from each person to another and many idols create their own Gwiyomi-Choreo after a while.

And if you wanna learn the gestures:

Actors and actresses on the other hand mostly try to appeal more serious because it might look a little bit unprofessional if you’re acting like a little child all the time. Their fan base is not as firm as the ones of idol groups (which even have names!) because their success depends on each and every performance anew – whether it’s a movie or drama – thanks to the fact that they try out new genres and characters many times within their careers and switch their target group of viewers pretty often. Maybe its because of that or thanks to the fact that many actors and actresses are actually older than most of the idols – only my guess – but I realized that they find it rather difficult to act cute and childish. When asked if they could please do something “aegyo” those actors and actresses sometimes play really hard to get and try to disentangle themselves out of this situation. And if they do act cute they’re embarrassed and ashamed afterwards. Which… makes them… even… more adorable… ?! Weird!! 😉

Example:

Lee Jong Suk is a South Korean model, actor, MC and entertainer. He’s one of the most flower-like Flower Boys in the whole country and even though he’s always asked to do his “special aegyo” (because it’s honestly really cute) he can’t help but feel embarrassed and shy about it. So adorable! >.< Lee Jong Suk is doing the so called “bbooing bbooing-aegyo” which is a little corny but loved by fans all over the world.

The first show is a sitcom called “High Kick 3” and the second one is a variety show with the name “Strong Heart”.

As for other actors and actresses… I am sorry but it’s really hard to find videos with an acceptable quality so the one above must do. But instead I’ll show you a video by “eatyourkimchi” about being “aegyo” in South Korea. What’s “eatyourkimchi”? Well, in short: A married American couple named Martina and Simon living in SK and making videos about it; KPop-fans, crazy, cool, hilarious and just likable. 🙂 Enjoy!

Sooo~ that’s it for today’s “Let’s talk about”. Thanks for reading and visiting my Blog and I’d be really happy if some of you may join the conversation and just write about what they think of the whole “aegyo”- and “I’m so cute”-stuff. I wish everyone a great new year and hope aaall your dreams will come true. ^^ ❤