If you want to add some cuteness and adorability to the way you speak Korean, then aegyo may be the thing you need!
We’ll explain what it means and what you need to know to up your aegyo game!
We’ve included a FREE PDF version of this lesson that you can take with you on the go. Level up your aegyo moves! Check out our free resource below:
- 1 What is aegyo (애교)?
- 2 How To Do Aegyo
- 3 Korean Aegyo Song
- 4 Korean Aegyo Words and Phrases
- 5 Wrap Up
What is aegyo (애교)?
Aegyo (애교) is when a person acts cute or in a childish way despite not being a young child themselves.
Doing aegyo is a way of acting cute that is popular in Korean culture, especially among K-Pop idols.
The Korean word 애교 (aegyo ) literally means “behaving cutely.” This can be compared to the English term “cuteness.”
Aegyo (애교) Pronunciation
The word 애교 (aegyo) is pronounced similarly to “egg-yo.” However, it should sound a bit more like “e-ggyo.”
Why do people use aegyo (애교)?
One reason for using aegyo to act cute is to flirt with a guy or girl you like. Many Koreans find it adorable to see your cute side.
You can also use it to get something that you want. Aegyo is a great way to show affection to your friends, family, or loved ones and is a fixture of modern culture in South Korea. However, aegyo is not for everyone–we’ll explain why a bit later!
Who uses aegyo?
Korean aegyo is generally about young women making cute gestures, although some men might use it too from time to time. Some might find that when some men use aegyo, it makes them feel uncomfortable or weirded out. Having that kind of aegyo experience might even cause you to get 닭살 (dakssal | goosebumps)!
Of course, most people don’t use aegyo in an extreme way. In fact, quite a lot of Korean people hate it!
You can often find the more ridiculous examples of aegyo in Korean dramas or comedy shows. Those examples are very different from how people might use them in real life since Korean dramas themselves aren’t a particularly accurate portrayal of Korea in such a way as they are oftentimes exaggerated.
These days, you can see lots of people in the Korean entertainment industry, like K-pop idols and Korean celebrities, using aegyo. And it’s not just among young women but with men, too. In South Korea, you can see aegyo being used in many places.
How To Do Aegyo
You can do aegyo by doing different styles of cute displays, such as pouting, using a baby voice, etc. This instantly makes someone adorable or lovable. The purpose of aegyo is to act adorable, especially to get your own way or something you want.
To do aegyo, you should use babyish actions, a cute voice or cute hand gestures, and facial expressions to achieve a desirable result. These cute displays can immediately light up a room or make people happy. You can demonstrate aegyo cuteness through the way you speak, act, dress, decorate your room, and your overall demeanor.
Here are the specific things that you can do:
Stretching the final vowel of a word
You can use this type of aegyo cuteness if a word ends in a vowel. In this case, the vowel would be stretched to sound cuter (or whiny, depending on your perspective, this guy, in particular, hates it). The word 오빠 (oppa) is a good example of this kind of aegyo. It means “older brother” for those not familiar with 오빠 (Oppa). Girls use it to refer to a guy who is a little bit older than them.
Since lots of guys like being called “Oppa,” using this word in a cute aegyo manner has more effect than other words might. Unfortunately for guys, using aegyo to show cuteness in this way with the word 누나 (Nuna) will not have quite the same effect.
Extra ㅁ’s and ㅇ’s
One option to spice up your text messages and emails with aegyo is to add the letters “m” or “ng.” Another option is to add extra consonants and wavy line symbols at the end of every word in a vowel.
Here are a few examples of how aegyo can be used with consonants：
1. Changing 오빠 (oppa) to 오빵 (oppang)
2. Changing 배고파 (baegopa) to 배 고팡 (baegopang)
3. Changing 헬로 (hello) to 헬롱 (hellong)
4. Changing 어디야? (eodiya) to 어디얌? (eodiyam)
Be warned; this can drive you mad if you use a dictionary to translate somebody’s 애교 (aegyo) text messages!
If you’re looking for a Korean dictionary to help translate some of this aegyo, check these out.
The 요 (yo) at the end of many Korean sentences are also often written as 용 (yong) when people are using this sort of aegyo. For example, 뭐해요 (mwohaeyo) may be changed to 뭐해용 (mwohaeyong).
Using basic hand gestures
This expression of aegyo uses their hands to make cute symbols like a heart or “V” sign (The Korean “V,” not the English “V”) in situations outside of having their photograph taken. Sometimes, even ajjoshis (older Korean men) can be seen making the “V” sign on occasions.
The hands can also be used to accentuate cuteness in the face by creating mock dimples or a “V” shaped chin. Watch the hand gestures in Gee if you want to learn some new aegyo hand gestures. Pouting is also included in this level of Korean aegyo.
Wearing Lotte World hairbands outside of Lotte World
Lotte World in Korea is an indoor amusement park near Jamsil Station that is open all year round. Many people have dates there, and it’s a great spot to see aegyo cuteness being used. At Lotte World, a trendy item on sale is animal ear hairbands. They look cute, and you will see lots of people wearing these around Lotte World.
While wearing this inside, Lotte World is, of course, aegyo too. It is a generally accepted thing to do. After all, you are in a world with fairies and pirates, so why not wear 호피무늬 (hopimunui | leopard print) cat’s ears? Wearing these in public is not a common thing to do but is a sign of extra aegyo.
Full-on body movement
This next level of aegyo is similar to using hand gestures. The difference is that this level of aegyo uses the whole body (including foot stomps and noises to go with the gestures). By this stage, we are definitely entering TV drama aegyo territory, which is an excellent resource for learning Korean, by the way.
At this point, some readers may wish to address these aegyo ways of the people they are around. One way to do this is by using the verb 척하다 (cheokada). You can use it to say:
|gwiyowoon chokhada||to pretend to be cute|
|yeppun chokhada||to pretend to be pretty|
Using the 뿌잉뿌잉 Hand Gesture
Although this is a hand gesture, it is so closely associated with Korean aegyo. It is the more ridiculous type of aegyo that you see with K Pop idols and on Korean gag shows like this one, so it needs its own level.
There are several long-running jokes on Korean comedy shows that involve actors doing the “ppuing ppuing” aegyo.
Korean Aegyo Sal
Aegyo Sal (애교살) is an ever-growing trend in Korea wherein people would accentuate their puffy eyes as a way to be charming or cute. It comes from the words 애교 (aegyo) and 살 (sal), which means “fat.”
This trend, which originally started in South Korea, is gaining popularity in other places in the world, like Japan and other parts of Asia.
While some folks would do their hardest to disguise under-eye puffiness, K-Beauty fans are embracing the eyebags with this new trend. In fact, some go as far as having fat injected into their under eyes!
According to this trend, small deposits of fat under your eyes (called “charming fat”) make your eyes pop and consequently would make you more youthful.
Korean Aegyo Song
Everyone has probably heard of the Gwiyomi Song, at least once. It’s an extremely catchy song and is used to express cuteness. The lyrics don’t really mean a lot, but they do make for a very adorable song.
Gwiyomi Song Lyrics
If you haven’t heard this irresistible tune yet, here’s a snippet:
Watch this video to see some cute hand gestures that you can do with this aegyo song.
Korean Aegyo Words and Phrases
Here is a summary list of common Korean aegyo phrases and words. We’ll show the comparison between the standard form and the aegyo form. Then, we’ll give you the English meaning.
|Standard Korean||Aegyo||Aegyo Romanization||Meaning|
|배고파||baegopang||I'm hungry (informal)|
|배고파요||baegopayong||I'm hungry (standard)|
|보고싶어요||bogosipeoyong||I miss you (standard)|
|보고싶어||bogopang||I miss you (informal)|
|어디야?||eodayam?||Where are you? (informal)|
If someone’s aegyo is getting on your nerves, then you might want to say:
|kwiyowoon chokhaji maseyo||stop pretending to be cute|
For more Korean terms of endearment, go here.
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Now that you know the different levels of aegyo, you can more easily recognize these expressions of cuteness when you see them. Of course, most people don’t use a lot of the high levels of aegyo seriously except for on TV or in dramas, but the first few levels are used quite regularly.
Which level of aegyo would you use with your partner, and which levels do you think are unacceptable in public? Let us know in the comments below!
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