The Secret to Selca Explained by a Korean Girl

Selca is an artform in Korea. Here’s everything you need to know about it!

Lingua Asia The Secret to Korean Selca Explained by a Korean Girl
Karina of aespa

What does Selca mean in Korea?

Selca (셀카) is “self (프)” + “camera (메라)” and a Konglish word for selfie.

Selca just means self-portrait photograph in Korean.

What are Korean slang words related to Selca?

There are two types of people when it comes to selfies in Korea.

  • 셀기꾼 (sel-gi-koon): Selfie fraudster who looks great in selfies, but not in person.
  • 셀카고자 (sel-ca-go-ja): Selfie eunuch who’s not good at taking selfies. Its synonym is “셀카바보 (sel-ca-ba-bo)”, meaning a selfie fool who’s wasting their face (usually good-looking celebrities).

Which apps do Koreans use for Selca?

SODA

SODA is a selca app that focuses on beauty filters.

It doesn’t have detailed retouching features, but the filters are lightweight enough to give you the touch-ups you need.

SNOW

I recently switched to SNOW since it naturally beautifies photos.

It’s pretty fun to use with features like virtual stickers that add augmented reality.

INSTAGRAM

My sachon dongsaeng in her early 20s who lives in Seoul taught me that they use Instagram filters too.

Instagram has some interesting and trendy stickers!

GiCa

GiCa stands for Gibon Camera (기본 카메라) which means a built-in camera, as in no filter.

Since many selca apps overly correct your face, photos look really unnatural.

More and more people use a basic camera now, then touch up their skin a little bit, with post-correction apps like Photoshop.

Is Selca trustworthy?

Not really. Most Koreans use filters for their selfies.

I admit that my own selca looks different, like “who’s this person?”

What are some popular poses for taking a Selca?

Lingua Asia An Yu-jin of IVE
@_yujin_an

In 2023, a trendy selca pose among K-pop idols is the one above: selfie of An Yu-jin of IVE.

It’s called, “mirror selca (거울셀카)”, using the reflection of mirror to capture at least 3 of your faces for a selfie cubed!

Lingua Asia Rei of IVE
@rei._ive

The popular selca pose of 2022 was the gyaru peace sign, started by Rei of IVE.

This inverted peace symbol was popular in Japan, and a Japanese idol member Rei brought it to Korea, making it trendy.

How to take the perfect Selca?

  • Use the right lighting, something that hides blemishes.
  • Get the right angle. Westerners tend to put the camera up too high. 45 degrees or a little above eye level is best.
  • Tuck in your chin to enhance your “v-line”.
  • Look at the lens instead of the screen when using a camera. With smart phones the screen or lens is fine depending on what you’re going for.
  • Laugh instead of smile, a smile held too long can look awkward.
  • Try different expressions like frowning or blowing kisses.
  • Also, tilt your head at different angles for a unique pic.
  • Don’t be afraid to take more than one.

How often do Koreans take Selca?

VERY OFTEN!

Whenever I meet my friends in Korea, we have a long selfie session, whether we’re at a café, restaurant, gallery, outdoors, or indoors. Literally everywhere.

We’ll take hundreds of photos together, then get a few good ones to share on social media.

Many Koreans are masters of taking photos. Needless to say, using Tinder in Korea can lead to a big surprise each time.

Pro Tips!

When you want to take nice photos of yourself on a trip, look for a Korean! You’ll get profile-worthy photos, and they probably won’t run off with your device.

Why do Koreans take Selca so much?

A good question with many answers.

Korea has a very looks-oriented society. Selfies are a way for Koreans to control the narrative.

It’s also just fun!

Leave a Comment