Even if you’ve just been sucked into the world of Korean entertainment, you’ve probably encountered aegyo. It’s prevalent in all forms of media, from K-dramas to variety shows to K-pop. So what is it exactly? Aegyo is the Korean word that refers to a display of affection or acting cute. This display of cuteness can range from talking in a baby voice to even a simple “A~ing.”
No one can resist the charms of Girl’s Day’s Hyeri.
As the Korean entertainment world grew and developed, so did aegyo! There are many different forms and types that have been popular over the years, and in this article, we’ll showcase them all. Are you ready for your feet and hands to curl up from the cringe? You have been forewarned.
Relatively on the tamer side, it became popular and cute around the early 2000s to say “carrot!” instead of “of course,” because the Korean word for it sounds very similar to the word for “carrot.”
“I want a cheeseburger~”
Hwang Jung Eum‘s brand of aegyo was legendary in “High Kick Through the Roof.” Anyone who grew up watching this sitcom remembers the iconic “I want a cheeseburger” phrase. Most recently, BTS’s Suga showcased his own take on it.
He will never live this down.
The “High Kick” series strikes again! While “bbuing bbuing” is a super common form of aegyo now, its usage only became widely popular around 2011, when Lee Jong Suk used “bbuing bbuing” in “High Kick 3.” It’s been an icon of aegyo ever since.
Next up is the “Gwiyomi Song,” which was invented and made famous by BTOB’s Jung Ilhoon. After BTOB featured on “Weekly Idol,” it went viral within Korea and became popular abroad as well. Inspired by Ilhoon, in 2013, singer Hari released a song and a music video that features the hand motions, further cementing its popularity.
The Confession Song
Girls’ Generation is known for their powerful performances, sisterhood, beauty, and, of course, aegyo. It’s a famously known fact that the older members, particular Girls’ Generation’s YoonA and Sunny, are the queens of aegyo. And with the power that Girls’ Generation possesses, it takes little work for anything that they do to go viral! In 2015, YoonA did a performance of “The Confession Song” on “Weekly Idol” that became super popular in Korea.
“I had a dream about a ghost”
This absolutely adorable little girl went viral in Korea for the way she cutely talked about her dream. Ever since, it’s been a popular form of aegyo that is still common today.
Jung Eun Ji’s “Oppang”
Ack, the cringe!
This episode of “Weekly Idol” was in 2015, but it was also featured as an option on Kwai (a dubbing app) in 2017.
Sana’s “Sha sha sha”
Sana’s cute mispronunciation in TWICE’s “Cheer Up” became a viral sensation in Korea and abroad. Many K-pop idols have followed in her footsteps ever since.
Nico Nico Nii~
“Nico Nico Nii” is a popular catchphrase that came from the anime “Love Live!” TWICE’s Momo is a popular example for this aegyo, but there are many other K-pop stars who have also showcased their take on it.
“Oppaya (Sweet Heart)” by SEENROOT
Following the “Gwiyomi Song” and “The Confession Song,” the “Oppaya” song (official name “Sweet Heart”) was originally released in 2015, but it exploded into popularity around late 2016. This aegyo became viral in Korea when an Afreecatv BJ performed it on her channel. Its popularity was cemented once again when Lovelyz’s Kei performed her take on “Weekly Idol.”
While the “High Kick” series was pretty influential in the early 2000s for viral aegyo, from 2011 and on, “Weekly Idol” became the main “influencer” of aegyo. Many forms of already popular aegyo (and new types of aegyo) gained even more popularity and went viral abroad due to their appearances on “Weekly Idol.”
Nae Maeum Soge Jeojang! (I’ll save you in my heart!)
Wanna One’s Park Ji Hoon went viral for his catch phrase “Nae Maeum Soge Jeojang!” This has been both memed and imitated by various K-pop idols.
Bonus: Kwai App
After “High Kick” and “Weekly Idol,” will the next influencer be this app? Kwai is a dubbing app that includes iconic and funny phrases from various variety shows, dramas, and songs. While Aera (Kim Ji Won)’s aegyo scenes from “Fight My Way” had already been legendary, they cemented their place as viral aegyo when K-pop stars uploaded their own dubbed versions on the app.
Another popular one is where a baby goes “Juseyo~” which means “Please give it to me” in Korean.
While the first part of the video is on the Kwai App, I definitely recommend watching the whole thing. It’s hilariously cute!
Hey Soompiers! On a scale of “This is cute” to “I really need to punch a wall now,” what’s your tolerance for aegyo? Let us know in the comments below!