What to Know About the Meaning of Oppa When Dating

Boyfriend, brother, or just guy friend?

The meaning of oppa can be confusing, especially when dating.

Here are the finer points of the word explained!

Linguasia What to Know About the Meaning of Oppa When Dating

The word Oppa can make things easier or trickier depending on how well you pick up on signs.

“Oppa” is commonly used by Korean females to address a brother, male relative, guy friend, or a romantic partner who’s older. It conveys a sense of familiarity and affection.

In a romantic context, oppa is similar to saying “honey” or “darling” in English. The word oppa gained popularity outside of Korea through the spread of K-dramas and K-pop, where characters often use it to address a love interest or someone they’re close to.

For guys

Women will naturally start calling older men they know oppa in Korean culture. This doesn’t mean she’s interested in dating you though. She might just like you as a friend and is comfortable hanging out with you.

The best way to find out if she likes you romantically is to invite her out on a weekend night to see a movie (movie can be code for date in Korea) and see if she comes alone. If she brings a friend, she either wants her friend’s opinion of you or she’s not interested in dating.

I know, more confusing right?

Korean men are expected to show their interest in a girl with “gobaek” or confession, where they make a big show of professing their affection to a girl. This may be accompanied by flowers and gifts in a public place. As a non-Korean, you’re not expected to do this, but you can simply tell her how you feel.

Most Korean girls feel a bit strange calling non-Korean men oppa though, so don’t take it personally if they just use your name, even when speaking Korean.


For girls

As a non-Korean, you might want to ask a guy if you can call him oppa. Most men will gladly say yes. Korean guys might take this as a sign that you’re romantically interested in them though, so use with caution.

If you’re interested in a guy, you can use oppa in a flirty way with aegyo and see how he reacts.

If a guy asks you to call him oppa within a week of knowing you, he probably likes you.

Some women have resorted to calling older males “hyung” or “sunbae” to avoid misunderstandings.

If a guy asks you to hang out on a Friday or Saturday night, that usually means he wants to date you.

Don’t go if you just want to be friends. There is a possibility he shows up to your school or work with flowers to profess his love.

Thankfully, this public declaration is considered public humiliation now, and Korean guys don’t do it so much anymore.


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