You can see aegyo everywhere in Korea. You can see and hear it in K-dramas, in K-pop songs, and even in everyday conversations. But what is aegyo? In this post, we will teach you the meaning of Aegyo and everything you need to know about this unique part of Korean culture.
What Is Aegyo (애교)?
Aegyo (애교) in Korean culture refers to the way of acting cute or childish to come across as loveable and adorable. Using cute voices, cute actions, cute hand gestures, and cute facial expressions can all be referred to as aegyo in Korean. For example, you may see Koreans using their finger and thumb together to make a cute heart shape, or you may hear a Korean woman call their boyfriend “Oppa” in a childish voice to sound cute.
Why Do People Do Aegyo (애교) In Korea?
There are many different reasons why one might use aegyo in Korea. Here are the most common reasons:
Aegyo can be used to flirt with a boy or girl you like. For example, a girl might ask “오빠, 나 예뻐?” (Oppa, am I pretty?) in a cute voice while batting her eyelashes to look adorable and flirt with the guy.
To Get Something You Want
Some people use aegyo when asking for something from other people. Especially if they know it will be a burden to that person. By asking for it in a cute and adorable way, the other person might be more inclined to give the person what they want.
To Show Affection
People can use aegyo with their friends, family, boyfriends/girlfriends, etc, to show affection.
Just For Fun
Sometimes aegyo is just used for fun. Saying things in a cute and silly way can be fun in the right situations. However, aegyo shouldn’t be used in all situations.
When Is It Okay To Use Aegyo?
Aegyo can be used with friends, family, boyfriends and girlfriends, and other people you are close with, but should not be used in formal situations or when addressing someone significantly older than you or in a ‘higher’ social position. As you may know, when talking to people in Korean culture, it is very important to respect the age and ‘social level’ of the person you are talking to. For example, if you work in a school, when you address the principal you should use formal language and not aegyo.
Who Can Use Aegyo?
Aegyo is usually done by women to try and look and sound cute and adorable to others. Kids may also use aegyo from time to time, especially if they want something from their parents. Men can also use aegyo, but it is best for men to only do so with people they are close with. Many people will be uncomfortable and may cringe when they see a man performing aegyo.
How Do You Do Aegyo?
There are many different ways you can do aegyo to look cute and adorable in Korea. You can say cute words, make cute hand gestures or actions, or you can make cute facial expressions. Let’s take a look at how to do each of these ‘aegyo’ actions.
Aegyo With Words
Changing the pronunciation of words to sound cuter is an easy way to show aegyo. A common way to do this is to change the final sound of a word to a ㅁ sound or a ㅇ sound. For example, when speaking in polite language, many of the sentences you say will end in 요. So, to sound cute you can change 요 to 용. Here are some other examples of common words changed into aegyo:
- 여보 [yeo-bo] becomes 여봉 [yeo-bong] in cute language. (여보 = wife)
- 배고파 [bae-go-pa] becomes 배고팡 [bae-go-pang] in cute language. (배고파 = hungry)
- 뭐해요? [mwo-hae-yo] becomes 뭐해용? [mwo-hae-yong] in cute language. (뭐해요 = What are you doing?)
- 어디야 [eo-di-ya] becomes 어디얌 [eo-di-yam] in cute language. (어디야 = where)
- 보고싶어요 [bo-go-sip-eo-yo] becomes 보고싶어용 [bo-go-sip-eo-yo] in cute language. (보고싶어요 = I miss you.)
Aegyo With Facial Expressions
Another common way to show aegyo is to use facial expressions. For example, a girl may pout and bat their eyelashes to try and look cute.
Aegyo With Hand Gestures
A common way to show aegyo, which you have likely seen, is to use certain hand gestures. For example, in Korea they like to make a heart shape with their fingers by crossing the tips of their thumb and index finger. Another common gesture, which is also performed in other countries, is to make a heart shape using you hands.
How Do You Pronounce Aegyo (애교)?
The Korean word Aegyo (애교) is pronounced as ‘egg-gyo’. Click on the audio below to listen to a Korean speaker pronouncing aegyo in Korean.
Now that you know all about Korean aegyo, check out these related lessons so that you can go and share your aegyo with the world while speaking Korean.