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merela Profile
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Korean way of addressing others (men-women), & Misc Addressing


I had posted this in the Winter Sonata thread as the article and the examples provided are from the characters in Winter Sonata, but I think if you know this while you watch K-dramas, you may be able to pick up some of the innuendos that are not apparent to non-Korean speakers.

I found this in Soompi's Winter Sonata thread and it was posted by liesle.

****************************

The Way Koreans Address Others


In Korea, when female adults address their boyfriends or lovers, they tend to add “ssi” at the back of their names. And then there are also those who do not address their boyfriends by names; instead they would call them “obba”. They would also address the friends of their elder brothers as “obba” as well, so the term “obba” itself does not contain any special meaning.

Of course, when women come across men they do not have special feelings for, but there is a possibility of entering into a relationship, they may add “ssi” to the back of the names, just like “MinHyung-ssi” (in Winter Sonata).

However, when the woman addresses a man as “Li MinHyung-ssi” (including his last name), then this means that they have a working or business relationship. That is to say, “Li MinHyung-ssi” and “MinHyung-ssi” have totally different meaning.

Yujin (the lead female character in Winter Sonata) addresses MinHyung as “MinHyung-ssi”, and not “Li MinHyung-ssi” or by his working title. So from this little detail, we can see her affection towards him....or at least we can infer that she is interested in him from a personal angle.

By adding “a” to the back of a person’s name is akin to nicknames or names that a person grows up with [bb: for this posting, I will refer to this as casual address]. Therefore, only people who grow up together will address one another by adding “a” to the back of their names (but even then, in high school or university, only friends who are on very close terms will address one another like this). JunSang is JunSang-a to Yujin.

So in the case of MinHyung, because they are not childhood friends, he will never address Yujin as Yujin-a, unless and until they get married.

[To the tune of Kim, MinHyung’s subordinate] There are only three instances when a man addresses a woman by adding “a” to her name, or by using casual address:

1. After marriage
2. After engagement
3. When the couple is mad at each other

So, from the simple address of Yujin-a, Yujin is able to tell straightaway if he is MinHyung or JunSang.

Yujin has always addressed him as “MinHyung-ssi”, [again, to the tune of Kim again], there can be three reasons:

1. After ten years apart, she finds it hard to use the casual address on him
2. As compared to using the childhood address, adding “ssi” seems more appropriate in expressing her seriousness and sincerity in her feelings towards him
3. Yujin is not the sort to address a man in such a familiar manner until after marriage

If we use casual address, MinHyung will become MinHyung-a, just like JunSang-a, that is to just add “a” at the back of MinHyung.

Now let’s talk about why MinHyung address Chaelin as Chaelin-a.
This is because MinHyung at that time is a playboy.

Most men do not address women with casual address before marriage.
The exception is for men who interact with women often, or what we term as playboys. This type of men have a tendency to use the casual address with women. This is especially since MinHyung is someone with only memories from growing in the United States, this is probably the so-called American way. Chaelin probably thinks the same way in the beginning, although it is quite certain she wishes to be addressed by MinHyung as Chaelin-ssi.

In Korea, only playboy will use the casual address on women before marriage, or it could also mean that the woman is not very significant in the man’s life. So naturally, Chaelin would wish for MinHyung to address her as Chaelin-ssi, but she probably assumes that since MinHyung grew up in the United States, he probably does not understand the significance of such addresses. That’s probably why he calls her Chaelin-a.

But later, when Chaelin witnesses MinHyung address Yujin as Yujin-ssi,
instead of Yujin-a like in their younger school days, Chaelin must be feeling very disappointed. By calling her Chaelin-a and calling Yujin Yujin-ssi,
MinHyung the playboy is telling Chaelin she is just someone he is toying with,
whilst Yujin is someone he is seriously in a relationship with. Chaelin must be very sad about MinHyung’s Form of Speech towards herself.

Instead of describing the way MinHyung speaks with Yujin as the formal form of speech, it is probably more apt to describe it as the polite form of speech.
Korean is similar to Japanese, when someone mentions the formal form of speech, one would usually think of the way one speaks with an elderly person.

MinHyung and Yujin mostly use the polite form of speech. As for SangHyuk and Yujin, being childhood companions, they do not use much of the polite form of speech.

These days, most young couples in Korea do not practise the polite form of speech, only couples nearing 30 years old would use the polite form.

In Korea [and in Japan too, I suppose], couples who use the polite form of speech with each other will start conversing in familiar form once they get married, especially amongst the newlyweds.



Last edited by nchristi, 12/3/2011, 12:29 pm
2/11/2006, 11:42 am Link to this post Send Email to merela   Send PM to merela
 
sumz1 Profile
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Thanx merela for this info. I find it very interesting and enlightening as I have been a fan of WS for several years.
2/13/2006, 5:27 pm Link to this post Send Email to sumz1   Send PM to sumz1
 
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Korean way of addressing each other (between men and women)


yes, thanks for your illustration. Now i can watch korean drama with more understanding.
2/24/2006, 9:27 pm Link to this post Send Email to cheezie   Send PM to cheezie
 
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Re: Korean way of addressing each other (between men and women)



WELCOME, cheezie!

Thanks for participating in CJKDramas.com!
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ricklin Profile
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Korean way of addressing each other (between men and women)


thanks mod! my first k-drama was secret. then after watching eots, i was wondering why some call each other with "a" after the name like yeona instead of yeon. and yeon calling goong-bok "song"?

this is an enlightment for me as non-asian to learn something so cool!

ws is my 3rd k-drama and i'll be watching more as many as they will show on azntv.

Last edited by ricklin, 4/20/2006, 2:42 pm
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lalainego Profile
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Korean way of addressing each other (between men and women)


hummm...
I think it is umpa as elder brother
and the ssh thing in the end is Mr or Ms
and ah is only an expression
furthermore, when they call the whole name they are also mad like when you parents call you your whole name including middle names its really scarry
and YA! is hey!!!!
4/21/2006, 11:39 pm Link to this post Send Email to lalainego   Send PM to lalainego ICQ
 
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Re: Korean way of addressing each other (between men and women)


class blockquote ricklin wrote:
then after watching eots, i was wondering why some call each other with "a" after the name like yeona instead of yeon. and yeon calling goong-bok "song"?
I've wondered about that last, too. At first I guessed that he was saying 兄 형 /hyung/ (older brother), but the sound isn't exactly right. Plus, I think it was used at least once by Goong-bok to his younger sidekick although, of course, it was mostly used in the other direction.

So, I still don't know what that word was.

By the way, we had an extensive discussion of Korean kinship terms at the Philly board that some might find interesting.

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Ellianu Profile
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Korean way of addressing each other (between men and women)


-ssi and -a are more to do with varying tones of relative 'respect' than a difference of address between men and women, though.

-ssi is more of a respectful suffix, and is used by both sexes to address also both sexes. You'd also use it to address someone who you aren't really familiar with, or familiar but haven't really reached the stage where you can't call yourselves friends yet (e.g co-workers you haven't worked with long enough yet). But you wouldn't use this to address a child, or someone who's much older than you or superior than you (say your boss, for example - in such cases you'd address the person as sirname-job title-'nim'). But if you are the boss then you'd use '-ssi' alot to call your subordinates. And of course girls often use -ssi to call their boyfriends, but then it's not that unusual for guys to call their girlfriends with -ssi as well.

-a is used between among friends, or when you are addressing someone who's younger than you (that you are familiar with). But it's not used in the professional workplaces - it's basically used between ppl who are familiar with each other. You may use -a or -ya, depending on the way of how the name ends; i.e.

1. names that end with a consonant syllable, e.g. Min-hyung, Yujin, Chaelin et c, would have the suffix -a;
2. names that end with a vowel syllable, e.g. Min-ho, Merela, Ellianu, Cheezie et c would have the suffix -ya;

and the reason for such difference is mainly for the ease of pronounciation, I think.


btw, obba/oppa is used by girls to call:

1. their older brothers (always);
2. their boyfriends (depending on the relationship);
3. their friends' elder brothers;
4. guys who are older and who they are very familiar with.

There is a phrase in Korean that says "you always start off as 'oppa', but you eventually end up with 'yerbo' (darling, honey, a term used between married couples) later on" ;)
11/24/2006, 1:15 am Link to this post Send Email to Ellianu   Send PM to Ellianu
 
Mecca9 Profile
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Re: Korean way of addressing each other (between men and women)


I truly can understand the Korean way of addressing people, but why is it that the elders thinks they can address you anyway they see fit without you responding? They do not like to be corrected when they are wrong , they take it as an insult!? Why must you always have to agree fully well knowing what they are saying is bunk, how will they know better?

This hierarchical system is so outdated, the 21st century does not allow such ignorance and tolerance. Thuis is just my views...
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woodstocks Profile
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Re: Korean way of addressing each other (between men and women)


Thankyou for this information...

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