Archive for the ‘Korean Phrases’ Category

“빨리 빨리”


A pretty common phrase you’ll hear in Korea these days is “빨리 빨리”, which means “hurry, hurry!”  Everything you do, everywhere you go, 빨리 빨리! 빨리 빨리!

I particularly remember Samchon (my host dad) saying this to me numerous times.

We were going somewhere and I was putting on my shoes- 빨리 빨리!

We were about to leave for Emart and I’d be shutting the computer down- 빨리 빨리!

I was getting ready to go to school- 빨리 빨리!

Time for dinner- 빨리 빨리!

I was walking- 빨리 빨리!

Seriously, I have never been so rushed in my life before… and my mom rushes me a lot… and I’m a New Yorker.  I practically grew up in a fast-paced life, but never had I been so… rushed before!  It was like living in a super-sped-up society.

I liked the ring of “빨리 빨리” so it never bothered me much.  In fact, I used it quite often myself to hurry other people!

One day, Samchon explained the phrase 빨리 빨리 to me (don’t ask me why- it was so random… I was putting on my shoes and he went 빨리 빨리! and then started explaining the meaning behind it…).  I learned that 빨리 빨리 is a positive term- it references to Korea’s rapid economic growth around the 1960s.

In the early 20th century, Korea was a very slow-moving country- everyone seemed to be moving at a leisurely pace.  Some say this might have been due to the fact that the Koreans were worn out from the long Korean War.  Not only were the people slow and tired, the country was war-ravaged.  However, this all changed in the 1960s under the rule of Park Chung-hee.  Korea industrialized and went under rapid economic growth through export-oriented industrialization.  Around this time, Koreans started to move faster.  With the 빨리 빨리 mentality, Korea has now developed into a fast and dynamic society.

Personally, I love the phrase 빨리 빨리.  I love how the phrase has a historical and cultural context behind it- it makes me appreciate the term that much more!  I remember coming to California soon after my stay in Korea and it was a HUGE contrast.  I went from 빨리 빨리 to… slow and chill.  It was such a strange adjustment… especially since Californians are known to be really relaxed .  I recall rushing to all of my classes… and seeing people stroll in 5 minutes late.

While it is nice to slow down once in awhile, I miss the 빨리 빨리 culture.  To be honest, I wish some people here would 빨리 빨리(︶︿︶)

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Some of you may have heard of the term “밀당” before… and some of you may be unfamiliar with this term.  I first heard this phrase about a year ago and I didn’t quite understand it.

밀당 can be a really confusing concept to understand but it is a good cultural phrase to know, especially for those interested in Korean culture and perhaps living in Korea.  With that said, I will do my best to explore the meaning of 밀당 and I do have my opinions about it… so beware of my bias. ㅎㅎㅎ

What is the origin of “밀당”?

The phrase 밀당 mil-dang is a combination of the verbs 밀다 mil-da, to push, and 당기다 dang-gi-da, to pull.  Together, the 2 verbs create a phrase that represents the flirting and power struggle between a couple in a relationship.

How is “밀당” used?

There is usually some confusion as to what is and what isn’t “밀당”… It’s hard to explain, but I will try to give you examples of “밀당.”  For example:

  • A guy and girl have a lot of fun on a date, but then the guy doesn’t call the girl for another date until 1 week later (and he really likes her and wants to see her again)… he is doing “밀당.”
  • A girl picks up a phone call from a guy she really likes after the 3rd time he calls (and she is not busy), then she is doing “밀당.”
  • A guy asks a girl to see a movie and she says she is busy (even though she really likes him and has no plans), she is doing “밀당.”

So “밀당” is kind of like doing something on purpose to make the other person work harder to get you… I guess it’s like “playing hard to get.”

Why do “밀당”?

Most of the time, the girls do it because they want to see how far their guy will go for them.  In other words, they like the attention and want to feel cherished by their boyfriends.  On the other hand, the guys who do it want to establish themselves as the “man” in their relationships.  The guys also want to see some love from their girlfriends!  And… most Korean guys like 밀당”– so it works for most couples… I think.

Now, I personally don’t like “밀당.”  I’ve always liked guys who are straight-forward- if they like a girl, then show it… there is no need to play the whole “catch me if you can!” game…  It’s annoying to have to go through the whole pushing and pulling thing when I have enough to worry about.  My thought is, if 2 people like each other, then like each other happily and openly.  I can understand why girls do it- it’s totally understandable to want to feel special and unique… but isn’t that why the guy chose you out of all the girls in the first place??

 And another thing about “밀당”– I have heard of cases where things go wrong because of this whole concept of “밀당” in Korean culture.  As you know, there are many foreigners in Korea these days and not all of these foreigners are familiar with “밀당.”  So, sometimes, a girl doesn’t like the Korean guy who is hitting on her and rejects him, but then the Korean guy thinks she is doing “밀당,” so he continues to pursue her (most cases, forcefully) because he thinks she really wants him.  In their minds, because of the use of “밀당” in their culture, they think a spoken “no” actually means “yes.”

So, I hope you are a little more educated about the phrase “밀당” and can form your own opinion about it.  I personally don’t like it, but many people do… and even though I don’t like it, I respect it as being a part of Korean culture.

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