Wallow in confusion no longer! Today I'm going to start with the basics: immediate family terms. Once you master these, you will be well on your way to understanding family relationships just by hearing the words they use!
Mother/Father = Eomeoni/Abeoji
These terms are generally reserved for rich, successful parents in k-dramas. If a character calls his (because, let's face it, the girls are never the rich ones) parents by these terms, you can pretty much guarantee that they will object to the marriage. They will also probably slap their son for insolence at some point and/or threaten to kick him out of the company.
Mommy/Daddy = Eomma/Appa
This is what poor heorines call their parents (if they have any). An eomma is usually well-meanting, but loves money. She says embarrassing things in public about her daughter marrying a rich man.
|This abeoji disapproves of that appa.|
An appa is supportive and kind. He also often racks up gambling debts that force the daughter to do ridiculous things like sell nuts at the side of the road or marry a prince.
Older Sisters = Nuna (or Noona)/Eonni (or Unni)So far, so good, but this is where it starts to get tricky. Depending on the gender of the person speaking, older siblings have different titles. If it's a boy's older sister, she will be a noona. If it's the girl's older sister, she will be an unni. If it's a younger sibling, they just go by their regular names.
The other confusing part is that a person doesn't necessarily have to be related to you by blood to be called these terms. They can be used for any older girl who has a close relationship with you. Got all that?
Let's talk about what this means in practical terms:
Noonas on Korean television tend to fall into two categories: ACTUAL older sisters to the male leads, or the male lead's first love. If it's an actual older sister, you're in luck! She will give the heorine a makeover and drive her around in fancy cars and show up at all kinds of critical moments, willing to help.
If the noona is a first love, it gets slightly trickier. Sometimes, they can be helpful, but more often than not, they're monsters in disguise. Here's my checklist of things to watch for if you happen to run into a noona in real life:
|Smiling + driving you around in a fancy car = good noona|
Scowling + calling you a monster = evil noona
Older Brothers = Hyeong (Hyung)/ Oppa
A hyung is the older brother to a man. In k-dramas, the hyung is pretty much always a close childhood friend or cousin instead of an actual older brother (aside from the brothers in Lie to Me). If it's the male lead's hyung, he will probably fall in love with the heroine and become part of the central love triangle/square.
Get used to this term. When you inevitably have to dress as a man, you will end up awkwardly calling the man you love "hyung" to protect your secret.
"Opp-paaaa, give me a piggyback ride!"
"Can I call you...opp-ppaaaaa?" (Said with a sly, ironic glance intended to infuriate the man you love)
|If you're not making this face, you're doing it wrong.|
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