What Does Oppa Mean In Korean – All You Need To Know


If you’ve ever watched a Korean Drama or even a K-Pop music video, we’re sure you’ve swooned and screamed for your favorite Oppa. Whether it’s someone charismatic like V from BTS or someone dapper and lovable like actor Kim Seon-Ho, the Korean entertainment industry is full of Oppas!

But have you ever wondered what “Oppa” actually means? That single word actually has so many different meanings! Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything you need to know so you can use Oppa correctly!

What does Oppa mean in Korean?


The literal English translation of oppa is older brother. Only women say oppa. Men who want to call their older brothers use “hyung” instead.

Women use it when they’re calling their older male siblings. But oppa isn’t just used among siblings. The term is also used by women when calling any man older than them, regardless of whether they’re related or not.

Because age and respect is important in Korea, using the word oppa is a must for younger women. Calling someone older just “you” instead of “oppa” can be considered really rude!

When do Koreans use Oppa?


Like we’ve said, oppa actually has a lot of different meanings depending on context. Using it can be innocent, respectful, or even flirty depending on the situation! Here are some instances when you can use the word oppa.

Older Male Siblings


Of course, Korean women use it to call their actual older brothers. To emphasize that they’re related by blood, some women also use the term “chin oppa.”

Older Male Relatives and Cousins


Oppa is also used for older male relatives and cousins. To differentiate between older brothers and older male cousins, you can also use the term “sa-chon oppa” when referring to cousins.

Older Male Friends and Acquaintances


But the word oppa is not reserved for family. Women can also use it for older male friends or acquaintances. However, take note that using the word oppa can seem friendly or even flirty, so make sure to only use it for close friends and friends close to your age.

Male Upperclassmen


Oppa is also commonly heard in schools and universities. Women usually call their upperclassmen “sunbaenim” which literally means “senior.” But once you get closer to them, they may tell you to call them oppa instead.

Actually, many Korean guys like to hear the word oppa from younger girls, so they might ask you to call them oppa sooner than you think!

Handsome Guys (Usually Celebrities)


While oppa is usually reserved for older men, some Korean women will call cool or handsome guys oppa regardless of age! They even have a saying, “잘생기면 다 오빠다,” which means, “All handsome men are oppas.”

That’s why you’ll often see fans of all ages calling Korean celebrities and idols oppas!

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Does Oppa mean boyfriend in Korea?


Korean women also call their boyfriends oppa sometimes, especially if they’re dating an older man! While “oppa” doesn’t necessarily translate to “boyfriend,” it’s quite common to see Korean women call their significant others oppas.

Between couples, women usually say oppa in a different tone, more affectionate and flirty than when the word is being used to call relatives or friends.

What do Koreans call their boyfriend?


Aside from oppa, there are also plenty of other pet names that couples use to call each other.

One of the most common ones is “jagiya” (자기야) which can mean “honey” or “baby.” Other cute pet names also include “nae sarang” (내 사랑) meaning “my love” and “aein” (애인) which roughly translates to “sweetheart.”

On the other hand, the pet name “yeobo” (여보) is more common among married couples. It also means “honey” or “darling.”

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How to use Oppa in Korea?


Now that we’ve gone over the different uses of the word oppa, we should also look at the different rules surrounding the word.

  • You must be a woman to use the word unironically. Some men also say oppa, but often only when joking around.
  • You must say oppa to a male.
  • Usually, the male is older than you by at least one year and not more than 10 years. If the man you’re talking to is more than 10 years older than you, then you should call him “samchon” or “ajuhssi” instead.
  • “Oppa” is often only used when you’re close to the person you’re speaking to.
  • Don’t call co-workers and especially bosses oppa. Even if they’re technically older men, calling them in a friendly way like oppa may come off as really rude!

Oppa is one of the most common Korean words you will hear whenever you watch Korean Dramas and Movies or listen to K-Pop. While its literal meaning is simply “older brother,” it can actually mean a lot of different things!

Who’s your favorite Korean oppa? Let us know in the comments down below!

Don’t miss our last articles about Korean culture! Check out for example why Korean idols don’t get married or the 10 Korean stereotypes that are actually NOT true!


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