Showing posts with label internet slang. Show all posts
Showing posts with label internet slang. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

#137. 방구석 여포 -- Pick on someone your own size!

I spent my early childhood in Korea, when StarCraft and e-sports were on the rise. While I was more interested in K-pop idols such as H.O.T. and Fin.K.L. along with the other girls in my class, most of the boys spent their free time talking about StarCraft strategies. After school, they would go to internet cafes (PC방 in Korea, literally "computer room") and play against each other, and they worshipped pro gamers -- I have never played StarCraft myself, but I still knew that Terran was everyone's favourite mode to play StarCraft in my class, and that the best StarCraft player of the time was Ssamzang ("쌈장", the winner "장" of fights "싸움").

Ah, the good old days. Fin.K.L. was probably my favourite among all Kpop groups when I was a kid!

Needless to say, reading books was not high on the boys' list of priorities. That being said, the book "삼국지" (Romance of the Three Kingdoms) was the only exception to the rule. Every boy (and me!) had read some version of it by the time we were about 10 years old.

Making a literary reference is generally a risky social move, since the other person might not get it, and you'll probably come across as a book nerd (and "not cool" when you're a 10-year-old). But 삼국지 was different. You knew that everyone read it, and even if you hadn't, you heard daily references to the book that you knew about the three men 유비, 관우, and 장비 who swore to be brothers for life in the garden full of peach flowers (weirdly romantic). You knew about the genius strategist 제갈공명 who worked for the three sworn brothers, and the sly 조조 who fought to destroy the three brothers.

Here are some illustrations of the main characters of 삼국지, taken from an abridged version intended for children.
It was also popular among the adults. Having been the bookworm of my class, I had not only read the various versions for children (including a cartoon version!), I also read the version intended for adults, which is a series of 10 books with a serious amount of Hanja in it. It is actually one of the only books in Korean that I still own. There is a saying among the Koreans:
"삼국지를 세 번 읽은 사람과는 상대하지 말라." (Do not get into arguments with those who read 삼국지 three times.)
This is because 삼국지 details the history of three ancient Chinese kingdoms (Wei, Shu, and Wu in English; 위, 촉, and 오 in Korean) that emerged at the end of the Han dynasty (184 AD to 280 AD), and it is essentially an Asian version of the Game of Thrones... except that it actually happened.

The book deals with the intrigue, trickery, heroics, treachery, loyalty, and military strategies of those who were living in the uncertain times when the Han dynasty could collapse any day. It is said that if you read 삼국지 three times, you will be able to recognize anything that people might be scheming against you, because the characters in 삼국지 more or less use all of these against one another.

This is 여포, one of the characters in 삼국지.

여포 is an interesting character in 삼국지. It is said that his contemporaries used to proclaim,
"人中呂布 馬中赤兔 (인중여포 마중적토)" (Among the people is 여포, and among the horses is 적토)
여포, riding his horse 적토, was probably the strongest warrior of his time, so much so that it seemed that anyone who could get him to fight for them was sure to be in the running to be the first emperor of the next dynasty that would rise after Han Dynasty fell. He was such an attractive asset that many people offered to adopt him as a son and heir (adopting someone as a son was much more common in the ancient times, to carry on the family name, and it was also a way to show your complete trust). Aside from his biological father, 여포 was adopted twice, and eventually killed both of his adopted fathers. Brave but ruthless and without conscience, 여포 was feared in battles, and he is described as being able to run through a battlefield as if there was no one else in it, because he would just kill anyone in front of him without a second thought, and no one could actually fight him.

You can probably imagine that young boys would go crazy over this ridiculously strong character who seldom had a match, despite his serious personality flaw, especially if he came out as a video game character. Which he did.

This is 여포 as a video game character. On second thought, I wonder how many of my classmates had actually read 삼국지...

Unlike the Western countries where people mostly move out from their parents' homes when they attend university, Koreans usually live with their parents until they get married -- Korea is a small country, and if you're working or studying within commuting distance from your parents, it is the economical option. This also has the advantage that your parents are likely to be there to support you when you're going through the hard times of your early-to-mid 20s when you're often frustrated and unsure of your future.

The downside (aside from the obvious lack of privacy and possible lack of independence) of this living arrangement is that the easiest targets for taking out your frustration and anger are your parents. This paints a rather sad picture that is not so common in the Western world, where the yet-jobless 20-somethings, frustrated at the stream of rejections, are playing video games in their rooms to escape their reality for a while. Concerned parent looks in, and the 20-something unleashes their frustration at their mom, yelling "LEAVE ME ALONE, I CAN TAKE CARE OF MYSELF."

In Korea, where the Confucianism values still rule the society, this paints a serious ethical problem (and Koreans suspect that rather a large number of people have committed this sin at some point in their lives), and many people make an effort to point this out. In the usual Korean humour, the internauts have also made an attempt to do this. In particular, a very simple post by an internaut drew out a lot of empathy from the others:

First line: "When I'm out meeting other people"
Second line: "When I'm talking to mom at home"

The first photo is 유선, another character in 삼국지 who was known for being weak and meek in personality, and the second photo is obviously 여포. This internaut wanted to satirize the fact that many of these people would not dare to say anything negative in front of others, but that they would be ruthless and cruel like 여포 when they're talking to their mom.

This post led to the creation of the phrase "방구석 여포" (여포 in your room). "방" means "room", and "구석" usually means "corner", although in this case, it is used as a derogatory diminutive (similarly, you can talk about your "집구석" which you can use to refer to your house in a negative way). It mocks the people who are tough only with their mother, while being a complete loser in the eyes of the others. And it is used in precisely this context only (but weirdly often). If you saw a friend who seemed rude to your mom, you could advise:
"방구석 여포 되지 말고, 엄마한테 잘 해드려." (Don't be like a 여포 in your own room; be nice to your mom).
If you saw someone particularly aggressive on the internet that you wanted to insult, you could try:
"방구석 여포같은 새끼야. 엄마 우시는거 안보이냐?" (You little b*tch acting like a 여포 in your own house, can you see that your mom is crying right now?)
Okay, definitely don't use the second phrase in real life. Aside from the bluntness and rudeness of this phrase, I really like this phrase because it is not every day that you see a literary reference used to really insult someone. Furthermore, it points out a pretty unique Korean phenomenon, so it only makes sense that the expression corresponding to it should also be uniquely Korean with no equal English translations!

This phrase is relatively new; I think I heard it for the first time maybe last year, but I am told that among the male users on the internet, this phrase was common since about 2016 (which makes sense since the men are definitely more into 삼국지 than women). Prior to the invention of this phrase, the word "강약약강" was used, which is a shortened form of
"자 앞에서는 하고, 자 앞에서는 하다." (In the presence of the strong, they are weak, and in front of the weak, they are strong)
which could be used like:
"준호는 전형적인 강약약강형의 인간이야." (Junho is the typical 강약약강 type)
 or
"야, 애들한테 강약약강짓좀 그만해. 보는 내가 다 창피하다." (Stop acting so tough in front of the small kids, and pick on your own size. You're embarrassing me)
This word is still used widely (for example, among women, who rarely seem to make 삼국지 references among themselves), and it also has variations like "강강약약" (strong in front of the strong, and weak in front of the weak).

Anyway, in the wake of COVID-19, hope that you all manage to stay safe. My school has just shut down; maybe I can use the time to read 삼국지 once more in the hopes of becoming invincible. I strongly recommend it!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

#136. 총공 -- Why the Koreans have united to wage a cyber war this week

Call me vulgar, but I love drama and juicy gossip. I don't even make an effort of trying to look uninterested when people start fighting, and I shamelessly collect all the rumours and construct the entire story (God forbid should I miss even the tiniest detail!) in my head. That's probably why I got into K-Pop in the first place, and this is definitely why I started spending way too much of my time on the Korean internet.

The Korean internet has so much character. The Koreans, who are the nicest, most polite, and amazingly helpful people in real life, transform themselves into these primitive things on the internet. They usually belong to one or more "tribes" or internet communities, who hate other communities. It is surprisingly commonplace for an internet tribe to decide that justice needs to be dealt to another internet tribe, and engage in a battle. How are these battles fought? One community decides on the date and time of the attack, and everyone belonging to this community starts flooding the other community's forums with offensive posts (in the internet slang, we call it "게시판을 도배한다", or "wallpaper the forum"), eventually causing the server to crash.

The process leading up to the decision is the most fun of all. Some instigators start attracting other people's attentions with funny but witty posts detailing the crimes committed by the other community, until more and more people become emotionally embroiled in the conflict, then the hivemind of the internet community magically comes up with the date, time, and the method of attack. Given that these communities either do not have an obvious leader, or the leaders tend to discourage these kinds of behaviour, the frequency at which these attacks happen is astounding. Of course, those who are not directly impacted by the conflict also have fun, because word gets around that a battle is raging on, and the others gather around their computer screens with a bag of popcorns, and watch the battle unfold. It's even more fun if some people decide to take the battle offline, by either challenging someone to a physical fight (the appropriate internet slang is "현피뜨다") or by bringing the other person to court for libel (you can say, "고소미 먹었다.")

In Korean, the bystanders would be gleefully telling each other, "팝콘각이다!" (The situation is setting itself for some popcorns)

Take what I'm about to tell you in whatever way you prefer -- the reason I am writing this post is because probably one of the most epic internet battle in my memory of the Korean internet is unfolding as I'm writing this post. Perhaps you'd like to get a bag of popcorns; or perhaps you will feel compelled to be more proactive and help the Korean warriors (because that's what they are in this story). This story is a long and complicated one, that starts several thousand years back. Also, a disclaimer: being of Korean heritage, I am of course biased, and I have learned that history has many sides. If you feel that something is misrepresented, please leave a (nice) comment!

Everyone knows that the three (four, if you count North Korea) countries in the far east -- Korea, China, and Japan -- absolutely hate each other. I've written several posts on the Korea-Japan conflicts, but I didn't really write about why Koreans don't like China. The short story is that China, being the big and powerful neighbour, was always interested in trying to make Korea their own. Let me give you a few examples (absolutely not exhaustive).

1. The Tang Dynasty ("당나라" in Korean) attacked Goguryeo ("고구려") in 644 AD. The obstacle standing between the powerful and numerous Tang army (approximately 200,000 men) and the capital Pyongyang was a small castle called "안시성" containing 5,000 men. Miraculously, the 5,000 men held down the fort for several months, while Tang Dynasty used their strength in number to build a castle out of sand so that they could shoot into 안시성 from the same height. Funnily enough, the Goguryeo army managed to take this sand castle during heavy rain, and they stopped the Tang Dynasty from entering Pyongyang.

Fun fact: The Tang Dynasty came into power because the preceding Sui Dynasty ("수나라") was considerably weakened after their 17-year battle with 고구려 (598 AD - 614 AD), in which they were completely defeated. They really couldn't leave 고구려 alone!
2. The Yuan Dynasty "원나라" (and the preceding Song Dynasty "송나라") essentially ruled Goryeo (고려) (1259 AD - 1356 AD), and the Yuan Dynasty even had the final say in who became Goryeo's king. They went as far as replacing the current kings in office by more co-operative people, and some kings actually spent most of their lives (including while they were ruling Goryeo) in China. Of course, Goryeo periodically sent valuable goods and beautiful women to Yuan Dynasty as well.

Thankfully, Goryeo had a wise king ("공민왕") who fought to escape the Chinese rule, and he was further aided by the fact that Yuan Dynasty was on the decline, and was eventually replaced by the Ming Dynasty "명나라". Unfortunately, Goryeo also fell and Joseon (조선) came into power not too long afterwards.

This is a portrait of 공민왕 -- notice that his clothes look Chinese! Whenever Korea was under a foreign occupation, Korea always lost a piece of itself, whether it be the clothes, or its language.
3. The Qing Dynasty ("청나라") invaded Joseon (조선) in 1636. Joseon was unable to hold the Qing soldiers at bay, and in just two months, Joseon surrendered. The king of Joseon then had to kneel before the emperor of the Qing Dynasty, and agreed to be their subject. Joseon is said to have maintained a good relation with the Qing Dynasty, so this somewhat unequal relationship continued until the Japanese invasion of 1910.

Here, the Korean King 인조 is kneeling before the Qing Emperor; he was asked to kneel three times, bowing three times each time he knelt. Legend has it that 인조 was so furious that he was smashing his head against the ground each time he bowed, eventually bleeding profusely from his forehead. The Koreans still remember this event as "삼전도의 굴욕," or the humiliation at 삼전 island.
4. And of course, the Chinese army played a huge role in the Korean War (in Korean, "6.25 (육 이오) 전쟁") 1950-1953. Kim Il-Sung (김일성), the founder of North Korea, convinced the Soviet Union and China to support his war against South Korea. While Stalin was said to be concerned about the possibility of the World War III and offered minimal help, China responded more positively, sending in nearly 3 million soldiers into the Korean peninsula. Without China, North Korea probably would not exist today; and even today, China and North Korea maintain good relationship, China going as far as sending back the escaped North Korean refugees to North Korea, should they get caught (knowing that they will probably be tortured or killed).

It is often said that there were so many Chinese soldiers, that it was almost like seeing a sea of men. Koreans call this "인해전술," the strategy using so many people, so that it looks like a sea of men.

Given all these interventions of China throughout Korea's history, it is not surprising that the Koreans often regard the Chinese government with some mistrust. As long as I can remember, there were always whispered rumours of the Korean-speaking Chinese population (called "조선족" in Korean, meaning the "Joseon (조선) tribe (족)"). Surely their ancestors were from 고구려 or 고려 or 조선, and they probably live in China simply because they never made it back into Korea before Korea actually became a country that grants citizenships. Nonetheless, the long period of separation made the Koreans wary of 조선족. Are they expats who miss Korea? Would they still be loyal to Korea? Or are they simply Korean-speaking Chinese people, which perhaps makes them more dangerous?

As long as I can remember, there were always whispered rumours about these 조선족. That they are the Chinese spies. That they would not hesitate to eat human flesh. That they kidnap healthy Koreans and sell their organs. Some of the worst serial killers in the Korean history were 조선족, and it seems that a lot of phishing scams are tied to 조선족 for whatever reason. It is a fairly common reaction of the almost-scammed Koreans to start insulting the Chinese leaders (such as Xi Jinping or Mao), to see if the almost-scammer would react to it -- and if they become angry, surely they are 조선족!


For whatever reason, the Koreans believe that insulting pictures of the communist party of China will bring out the worst reaction in the Chinese people. The Koreans believe that even looking at these pictures might be enough to get the 조선족 in trouble with the communist party; I cannot verify or refute this claim, but I imagine that this belief is based on the stories of North Korea, where such things would certainly be true.

Korea has been in a political and economic turmoil for the past several months. And with the recent emergence of COVID-19, the Koreans are more fearful than ever of their future. Taking part in the Korean internet communities, I have been hearing rumours of possible Chinese collusion, that the Chinese government employed thousands of 조선족 to flood the Korean internet with pro-government propaganda to manipulate the public opinion. That these 조선족 알바 (the part-time 조선족) are getting paid per online comment that they make, and that the Chinese have already infiltrated the Korean online communities, and that most moderators are 조선족. Of course, this woman of science doesn't really believe without proof, but nonetheless, such rumours are widespread in the Korean internet.

For most people who are not interested in politics, including myself, the story began with the outbreak of COVID-19. When the story broke that a new strain of virus was discovered in Wuhan, the Koreans voiced concerns, since Korea receives a large number of tourists from China. As the infections began to spread through Wuhan, Koreans waited for the government to ban the entry of Chinese travelers. After all, many countries, including the US, Australia, Japan, North Korea, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, have placed the ban.

List of travel bans on China; despite being marked on the map as having an entry/exit ban, Korea has restricted entry/exit for those who are coming directly from Wuhan.

Surprisingly, the ban never came. Fearful and desperate, the Koreans signed a petition for the government to impose a quick entry ban, and the total number of signatures was approximately 760,000. The doctor's association also advised the government to quickly close its borders. Every news article was flooded with pleas to the president to make a swift decision.

The government would not budge. It cited reasons that China is Korea's biggest trade partner, and that closing the border would impact our business. The government also sent large number of medical supplies, including 2 million face masks, to China. In addition, the government also announced that should the Chinese travelers get sick while being in Korea, the government would pay for their treatment, as well as their living expenses while in Korea. Finally, the government asked the Koreans not to call this disease Wuhan Pneumonia, as it encouraged hatred towards the Chinese, and to call it instead "Coronavirus."

The price of face masks skyrocketed tenfold. Even with ten times the usual price, Koreans are still having problems securing masks, even today. And various government organizations at the federal and the provincial level are still sending masks to China.

This article claims that over 100 times the usual amount of fask masks have been exported to China in January, and it doubled again in February. This is in addition to the masks that the government sent to China as aid.

Chaos seemed to reign the Korean internet. Every community could not stop talking about the "Wuhan Pneumonia (우한 폐렴)", as it became known in the Korean internet. Voices of criticism against the president Moon Jae-In and the government started getting stronger. An online petition launched in the Blue House (equivalent of the American White House) website, calling for the impeachment of the president. This petition gathered over 1.3 million signatures.

Then something strange happened. A counter-petition supporting the president also launched, and quickly gathered 1.1 million signatures. In many online forums, the top three comments in the posts criticizing the government policy would be pro-government, often calling the original poster foolish and insulting them in many ways. Weirdly enough, all comments after the top three comments would be anti-government. Soon, the Koreans noticed that the difference between the "likes (추천)" and the "dislikes (비추, short for 비추천)" was constant.

Exhibit one, the differences between likes and dislikes in the top three comments are between 661-663. The comments support the government, and blame the doctors and religious organizations for not being able to manage COVID-19.

Exhibit two, where the difference between the likes and dislikes of the top three comments are held constant at approximately 250. The fourth highest comment calls the government "the worst government ever, because the merchants are going bankrupt, citizens dying from the Wuhan Pneumonia, and the housing bubble at its highest."

The rumours of online manipulations by the Pro-China forces seemed more and more likely, although there were no definite evidences. The Koreans already knew that the internet could be manipulated; when the scandal of the former Korean minister of justice was raging on (in which the minister, Cho Kuk (조국), was caught forging his children's college and professional school applications, among other things), the top two trending search words on Naver, the largest search engine in Korea, had clear political motives. The #1 said "Courage to Cho Kuk" and #2 said "Cho Kuk must resign".


Then on February 27, two decisive things happened.

First, a post titled "어느 조선족의 고백 (Confessions of a 조선족)" appeared on the Korean internet (follow link to see the full text + translations). The writer of the post alleged that he was a 조선족 who saw himself as a Korean (and not Chinese), and that the Chinese government was involved in all aspects of the Korean society, including the presidential election. He also alleged that the 조선족 are indeed involved in manipulating the online opinions, by systematically upvoting designated pro-government comments and using their strength in numbers to make certain search terms appear to be trending.

Of course, this post was all words and no proof, and the post alone probably would not have gained much traction. After all, there are many attention-seekers ("관종") on the Korean internet who would make up a lot of fake stories.

But then, one tech-savvy Korean internaut found what many Koreans believed to be a decisive evidence of the Chinese involvement in the Korean internet communities. He thought of the idea that he would analyze the traffic to the Blue House website, which hosts the petitions to the government, including the petition to impeach the president, and the petition to support the president. If the Chinese were indeed involved in this, surely it would show from the traffic analysis! And indeed, he found that the recent Chinese traffic to the Blue House website has increased by over 70%.



One of the most popular search terms that people used to access the Blue House website was even in Chinese. Now, in the presence of a somewhat concrete evidence, the situation started to look a bit more serious.

Actually, I'm under-stating this. The Korean internet communities blew up.

And here is the one awesome thing about Koreans. They are hilarious. Especially online.

I am not sure how the other cultures would have reacted in the presence of this knowledge. But the Koreans decided that this was the right time to test out a theory that was more of an urban legend. 

The legend has it that the Chinese government often inspects the browsing history of its citizens. And the legend says that if the citizens are caught browsing websites that go against the doctrines of the Communist Party (for example, Free Tibet or dongtaiwang.com, which apparently deals with information that the Communist Party would like to block from its citizens), then they can be punished by the government. There are some who believe that people who are noticed by the Communist Party end up as exhibits in Body Worlds (in Korean, "인체의 신비" or "Mysteries of the Human Body").

The Koreans decided to make phishing links that looks like a link to the pro-president petition, but actually redirects to dongtaiwang.com when you click on it. Then they started planting these links everywhere on the Korean internet, because, you know, the 조선족 are supposed to be everywhere. Why dongtaiwang.com instead of freetibet.org? When you read "dongtaiwang" in Korean, it sounds like "동태왕". "동태" is frozen pollack, and "왕" is king. So it just sounds funnier.

Random fun fact: Pollack is "명태" in Korean, but frozen pollack is "동태".
The response to these phishing (no pun intended) links were almost immediate, and kind of astounding. When people mistakenly clicked on these phishing links (which are essentially harmless unless these urban legends are true), there were some violent reactions. Here are some reactions:

"이봐요 나에게 왜이러는겁니까" (Hey, why are you doing this to me?)
"난 그냥 개인이오" (I'm just an individual)
(mentioning the above person) "들어가셨습니까? 저 어떡해요" (Did you actually click? What am I going to do?)
"절대 절대 들어가지마세요... 해킹 당합니다... 난 그냥 개인이요" (Never never click the above link... You'll get hacked. I'm just an individual)
"난 개인이요 어디 변절을 합니까? 내 의지가 아니다" (I'm just an individual. I would never betray. It's not my free will) 


For a harmless prank, the responses were disproportionately strong, and also uniform in that many people wrote, "나는 개인이오" (I'm just an individual). Not only did this phrase not make sense, it is not a phrase frequently used in Korea. However, if it came from a 조선족, whose grammar and vocabulary are often slightly different from the Koreans, it started to make a little bit of sense.

A Korean internaut claiming to be a 조선족 explained: you can indeed get into trouble for accessing these forbidden websites. Nonetheless, the government also recognizes that people make mistakes, and often you just get off with a mild reprimand. However, if the government determines that you accessed this website as a part of an organized group action, then you can actually disappear without a trace one day, so people who have clicked this link are rightfully fearful. Since they must still stay true to their character and not give away their identity that they are actually Chinese people infiltrating the Korean web, they write in Korean "나는 개인이오" (I'm an individual) to signify to the government inspectors that they are not part of some organized group against the Chinese government.

The language barrier between China and Korea is too great that this information cannot be verified immediately. But this made the Korean internauts only too gleeful. Now taunting those who fall into this trap, the Koreans made more and more phishing links. When someone fell for it, the Koreans started telling them:

"이제 신비해지겠네" (Now you will become mysterious),
referencing the fact that they are likely to become an exhibit in "Body Worlds" (whose title in Korean is translated as "Mysteries of the human body"). Yes, I witnessed the birth of yet another internet slang phrase!

This Korean internaut claims that he succeeded in making an atomic bomb. When a suspect 조선족 clicks on his link, his computer will access all of the addresses listed above (all clearly anti-government), AND use his credentials to sign the impeachment petition.

Soon afterwards, the Koreans analyzed the visitors of dongtaiwang.com, and the results were perhaps not surprising. The ranking of the website within China went up significantly, and most visitors were from China. Since all of the phishing links were written in Korean, which most Chinese people do not speak, it does seem to add credibility to the claim that there are many Chinese people on the Korean internet.





And soon after these fake links started going up everywhere, the comments sections of online articles cleaned up considerably. The top three comments were anti-Moon, with almost no dislikes. Many people commented that they have not seen comment sections like this one in a long time.

First comment: Please investigate the Chinagate. Please.
Second comment: We must get to the bottom of the connections between Moon Jae-In and China. No sane person would do anything like this.
Third Comment: Moon Jae-In has completely lost his mind. He must really owe the Chinese.
Fourth Comment: Another phishing link targeting the 조선족...

So, as the various situational evidence started piling up, more and more people started believing this rumour of Chinese collusion. And the communities that normally hate each other (men vs. women, democrats vs. republicans, etc.) started talking to each other. They started wondering whether it was the 조선족 that exacerbated the conflicts between them. They started talking about what they could do to bring the mainstream media to pick up on this allegation.

Thus the Korean internet warriors started talking about a large-scale attack. The best course of attack online (as determined by the experienced Korean internauts) generally tends to be something that can attract the attention of the mainstream media. And the Korean mainstream media pays attention to the trending search words on Naver.

So, on March 1st (which has a historic significance, as one of the largest manifestations against the Japanese occupation happened on this day), some tens of thousands of the Korean internet warriors will gather together to launch a full-scale attack on Naver, hoping to get the search word "차이나게이트 (China Gate)" onto the top of the trending words chart. And to boost the public awareness, they will also search the words "나는 개인이오" (I'm just an individual).

They are using yet another internet slang, saying that
"3월 1일 오후 1시에 네이버 총공이야" (There will be an all-out attack on Naver on March 1st at 1pm)
where "총공" is short for "총 (everyone) 공격 (attack)". This word is normally used for K-Pop idols, that the fans are all streaming some music to put it on top of a music chart. But of course, this word is extremely relevant in this case as well.

If the attack is successful, the mainstream media will be forced to investigate and publish news articles on what has been alleged so far. The Koreans are hoping that this will be the beginning of some positive change.


This poster, advertising the attack on Naver, is now making its way around the Korean internet, hoping to recruit more people.


Of course, it is possible that they are chasing shadows. But even then, is a 총공 really that bad? It united the Korean internet communities for now, and people who would normally hate each other have set aside their differences. And if an investigation determines that there was no Chinese involvement, at least it will put everyone's mind at ease.

In any case, I am watching this case with interest, and I may even join in their efforts to bring these two words, "China Gate" and "I am just an individual" to the top of the trending search words on March 1. Because if the allegations are true, no amount of help is too small for these brave (or foolish, only time will tell) internet warriors.




Sunday, November 3, 2019

#135. 공사치다 -- Blindsided by love (feat. Ellin of Crayon Pop)

How time flies! 2019 marks the seventh-year anniversary of the debut of the K-pop girl group Crayon Pop, well-known by its one mega-hit song "Bar Bar Bar."





This unfortunate group must have felt incredible pressure to continue to entertain with their gimmicks after the amazing success of "Bar Bar Bar," but never overcame it. All things considered, it wasn't just the creative barrier that got them; the group's promotional activities were hindered by their youngest member (aged 25 at the time) So Yul (소율) taking a leave from Crayon Pop due to anxiety disorders...

Except that it turned out that she didn't actually have an anxiety disorder. She had gotten pregnant from a relationship with Moon Heejoon (문희준) of H.O.T., one of the most popular Kpop group from the 90s (aged 38 at the time). And one day, without consulting her management company or the other members of Crayon Pop, she announced her engagement and the upcoming wedding.

The couple.
As I understand it, this threw the Crayon Pop fandom into chaos. Not only was So Yul the youngest member, their princess was pregnant, and getting married to a much older guy who had a reputation for being sleazy! Moon had just been slammed by his own fans for having scheduled way too many concerts (from which most of the revenue goes to Moon himself), and encouraging his fans (mostly in their 30s now) to not only attend his concert, but to attend ALL the concerts. The fans complained
"문희준은 우리를 ATM기계로 알아." (Moon Heejoon thinks that we're ATM machines, from which he can withdraw money whenever he pleases).
Even though he had completed his military service and had essentially earned the right to never be criticized (까방권), this was too much, and he was under much fire. The couple's fandom was further disintegrated as the couple insisted that they were not expecting a child; a lie that revealed itself in less than nine months.

Anyway, due to these unfortunate events, Crayon Pop's future looked bleak. And the other members of Crayon Pop were left to fend for themselves. The most successful out of the remaining members is currently Ellin (엘린), who found her true calling in the live streaming world. She debuted as the BJ (Broadcasting Jockey; I know it sounds weird, but this particular American slang has not hit Korea yet) of Afreeca, where the BJs live-stream whatever you please, and if that also pleases the audience, then the audience rewards the BJ by sending them "별풍선" (star balloons, approximately 10 cents per balloon) in the chat window.

Ellin shared everything about herself on Afreeca, from her meals to her makeup tips, as well as behind stories about K-entertainment industry. This is how a typical livestream looked like for Ellin.


Already having a lot of name recognition as a member of Crayon Pop, and having stories about the K-entertainment industry that an average person couldn't access previously, her channel gained popularity quickly. It also helped that her fans gifted her with many 별풍선s; she quickly got her name into the list of BJs with the most number of star balloons, and that further aided in her growth.

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Afreeca actually does not have a great reputation among the Koreans; while it has its fanbase, many Koreans also believe that sending cash real-time is grotesque and vulgar. For example, many BJs would perform a certain reaction to a certain number of 별풍선s given to them by a single user -- so, in a way, you could manipulate the BJ into doing certain actions for a small amount of money, and this did not sit well with the general public.

For example, in this video, the viewers of BJ 양팡's live streaming kept gifting her with star balloons, so she had to continue to react to them for an hour straight!


So, in a sense, Afreeca is the ultimate capitalist world, where money reigns supreme. And if one of the viewers who contributed way above the other viewers, the BJ became more and more dependent on that one viewer, because if the BJ displeased the viewer, the BJ risked losing a large portion of their income, which was often in the six-figures, or even in the millions each month. And the top viewer got to feel like they "owned" the BJ; the BJ would normally start contacting the top viewers outside of their livestream, and get to know them personally. I mean, if someone is giving you millions of dollars each year, they'd want something in return, right?

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This is where Ellin's trouble started. She also had a top viewer, who had gifted her approximately $1 million USD over the past year. As per the usual unspoken rule of Afreeca, she and this viewer (called 뭉크뭉, as that was his online handle; I have no idea what that means) started contacting each other regularly outside of the livestream.

Here are some samples of the Kakaotalk messages that they sent between themselves (yellow: 뭉크뭉, white: Ellin)
Here are some of their sample chats on Kakaotalk:

1. Ellin: (Sends a photo of her ripped jeans) Can you sew up my jeans please?
   뭉크뭉: Do you want me to buy you some clothes?
    Ellin: Some pants please...

2. Ellin: I want to ask you something
    뭉크뭉: Okay
    Ellin: I'm trying to dye my hair. Should I do chocolate brown, or blue black?

3. 뭉크뭉: Wow, what's up? (ed: she must have done something unexpected)
     Ellin: (Sends a photo of her legs and the belly of her dog) I just woke up

4. 뭉크뭉: Why don't you come by a Friday morning flight?
     Ellin: Just one day? Are you kidding? Let's just go to Gapyeong instead and have a really fun day.
     Ellin: We can do zipline (heart emoticon)

5. 뭉크뭉: My heart and my head are saying different things. We should both just die together.
     Ellin: Is this some mid-life crisis? Let's die together, we're like needle and thread!

6. Ellin: (Sends a year-old video)
    뭉크뭉: Wow, I must have loved you a lot a year ago.
     Ellin: It's only been a year between us, have you already changed?



Given these messages, it seems that 뭉크뭉 (perhaps reasonably so) thought that Ellin would be interested in a romantic relationship with him. So, in late October, he asked Ellin out formally (although I imagine they were spending tons of time together, and talking to each other every day by then), telling her that he wanted to talk about their future together. Ellin responded by saying that she only saw him as a close friend, and that she had no idea that 뭉크뭉 thought of her in that way.

뭉크뭉 felt that Ellin should have drawn the line somewhere if she didn't see him in a romantic light; he asserted that no man would casually spend $1M USD on a woman that he wasn't romantically attracted to, and that she should have said something earlier. And even if she hadn't, he would have felt better about her if she were more honest, saying that she liked the money. He really didn't like that she played dumb.

So he decided to go public. He asserted that all of their mutual friends saw them as a couple; that she asked him to walk her home and pick her up on multiple occasions; and that she introduced him to her family including her mother and her aunt.

While some people expressed disgust that he tried to quite literally buy a woman with money, yet many others thought that 뭉크뭉 fell into a well-crafted scam by Ellin. And they talked about the situation like this:
"엘린이 공사친거네." (Ellin did some construction work.)
It isn't completely clear to me what the etymology of the slang "공사치다" is; an extensive Google search didn't point me to anything particularly conclusive, but I think that it must come from the standard Korean word for "construction," because in order to scam someone big-time like this, you have to carefully build lies upon lies, much like building a skyscraper. If you were simply trying to hit on someone (usually with the intention of being in a non-serious relationship), then you can say:
"나 저 여자한테 작업걸어볼까?" (Should I try some construction work on her?)
where if you were working on a construction site, then you are doing a "작업." A "작업" is the day-to-day activity on a construction site, and the entire purpose of the construction site is the "공사."

So "공사치다" is like making a larger-scale move on someone with an intention that is not 100% honest; it means that someone (usually a woman, but not necessarily) gave someone else (a 호구, really) an illusion of being interested in them, in order to get things out of the person.

Another way to describe the situation in Korean slang is to call the woman a "꽃뱀 (flower snake)" (and if the scammer is a man, then you can call the man "선수", quite literally a "player".) As you can see, the flower snake is quite beautiful, but it is poisonous.

Another source claims that the word "공사" comes as an abbreviation of the phrase "들여 기치다" (Spend a lot of effort in scamming someone), which also seems to make sense! Although no one is sure of the etymology of this word that only came into being a few short years ago, I think all the Koreans can agree on the meaning of this word.

In any case, the Ellin scandal is still unfolding, and although it's just a livestream, the Korean entertainment news outlets are treating it as a front-page news; Ellin did another livestream a few hours ago from the time of this writing trying to present her side of the story, but the general consensus is that her explanations seemed either fabricated or unconvincing. 뭉크뭉 also expressed outrage at her explanations, and promised to tell "the whole story (whatever that is!)" in a few days. I suppose for a general viewer, this situation is:
"팝콘각이네" (The situation seems to be setting itself up for some popcorns.)


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

#133. 내로남불 -- Romance for me, infidelity for you

One of the things that always impress me when I meet a foreigner trying to learn Korean is when they use a 사자성어 (four-letter proverbs) in their sentences. Korean has an abundance of four-letter proverbs in its vocabulary, and even among native Koreans, knowing a lot of 사자성어 is a mark of your intellect, as these often come with a back story, or you simply need to know a lot of hanja to decipher its meanings. Only a well-read person could casually throw in 사자성어 into their daily conversations, and it is a sign that you are proficient in hanja, history, and philosophy. You might say something like:

"지수는 사자성어를 많이 써서 정말 유식해보여" (Jisoo sounds so smart because she uses so many four-letter proverbs.)

Here's an example of a nice 사자성어: A king is like a raft, while the people are like the water (군주민수). While the people lift and worship the king much like water does a raft, it is also water that sinks the raft. Deep, right?

Of course, out of tens of thousands of 사자성어 that exist, an average Korean probably knows a hundred or less. And why not? The ignorance of the four-letter proverbs doesn't really hinder your ability to have an exciting conversation.

Nonetheless, it is still fun to try to sound smarter. And so, Koreans started coming up with fake four-letter proverbs. In this new wave of slangs in the era of the internet, the reigning philosophy became that "anything four-letter goes". Unlike the classical four-letter proverbs that always come from hanja, these new four-letter proverbs are often an abbreviation of an existing phrase.

Koreans like shortening sentences and words already (for example, "구 (boyfriend)" becomes "남친", a male friend becomes "남사친", meaning "자친구아니고 구 (not a boyfriend, just a human friend)", and "iced americano" becomes "아아", short for "이스메리카노"). So shortening particular phrases that get used a lot into four-letters became a fun game.

One of the most common "fake" four-letter proverbs that are being used nowadays is "내로남불." It is shortened from the phrase
"가 하면 맨스, 이 하면 륜." (Romance for me, infidelity for the others.)
 As you might easily guess (and these "fake" four-letter proverbs are much easier to guess the meanings!), this phrase is used to criticize someone who is overly generous with themselves, while using a much harsher standard for the others. And of course, everyone knows that someone who found the love of their lives for the fifth time, while being married. While they might romanticize their situation as a romantic escapade, these people are usually not so tolerant towards the others (or heaven forbid, should their partner cheat on them!)

Take Cho Kuk (조국), for example, who is the newfound Korean icon of 내로남불.

Meet Cho Kuk. His name is synonymous to "my country (조국)"; and his Twitter handle, @patriamea, of course, means "my country" in Latin!
He is the newly appointed minister of justice of Korea. Prior to his political life, he was a professor of law at the Seoul National University, which is the most prestigious of all universities in Korea. He was actively involved in politics since his college days, but his fame seems at least partially based on his good looks and his Twitter account, in which he did not hesitate to criticize the injustice of the Korean society.

For example, in this tweet, he criticizes the competitiveness of the Korean society. He says: "We all like the rags-to-riches stories (in Korean: a dragon rose from a small stream). However, our society now is a rich-gets-richer type society, and the chances of going from rags to riches is very low. Not everyone needs to be a dragon, and there is no need. The more important is that we can be happy in our small streams living as fish, frogs, or crayfish. Let's not compete unnecessarily, and make beautiful streams instead!"

Many people found his words comforting, direct, and inspiring. However, when he was named by the president to be the next minister of justice, stories started coming out.

One such story concerned his daughter, Cho Min (조민), who is currently a medical student at Pusan National University. The stories alleged that Cho Min was struggling, essentially failing her classes every semester. Given that her undergraduate degree was from Korea University (one of the SKY universities and very prestigious!), this was very puzzling.

This is Cho Min.

The stories then said that while Cho Min was a high school student, she interned at a professor's medical lab at Dankook University (not as prestigious as SKY, but still 인서울, in-Seoul, and a well-known university) for two weeks, and became a first author of a paper. People suspected that she was accepted to Korea University based on her extracurricular activities, and not necessarily her grades.

Given that her father was being considered for the position of minister of justice, an investigation launched both at the official level involving the prosecution, and also the netizens of Korea. It was revealed that her high school grades were indeed very bad (to be fair, her high school is quite competitive, but she also took an SAT test, and received a score of 1970 out of 2400, which is certainly not at the level suitable for elite universities.)

Furthermore, her father explained that she was made the first author of her medical paper because she translated everything to English, as her English was very good from having lived abroad for two years when she was a child. Nonetheless, the committee of ethics of the Korean Society of Pathologists found this to be unethical practice, and retracted her paper. It seems likely (from the interviews of the officials who were involved with her admission) that this paper played a large role in her admission, and that she was admitted to this lab in the first place due to her father's connections.

It also seems that her parents (both professors at the time) forged awards and certificates for prestigious internships to support her application to the medical schools; while all this is still under investigation, the prosecution alleges that some definitive and objective evidence proving forgery were uncovered.

The students of Korea University were understandably enraged; they protested on their campus calling for the cancellation of her admission and to revoke her degree from Korea University. The university officials haven't responded yet. This clever poster reads "조국 조민 국민 조롱," or "Cho Kuk and Cho Min have mocked the people."

And so people started using the phrase "내로남불" more and more often. While Cho Kuk seemed perfectly happy to advise the Koreans not to strive so hard for the top, he was doing everything he can to ensure that his daughter will have the perfect pedigree and the perfect career (it is alleged but not at all proven that Cho Kuk may have pressured the medical school to not to fail his daughter).

People started saying things like:

"조국 내로남불 진짜 너무하네." (Cho Kuk went way too far with his 내로남불 attitude.)
"조국이 저정도로 내로남불이었다니, 완전 실망이야." (I didn't realize that Cho Kuk was so hypocritical, I'm so disappointed.)
And honestly, there are many other allegations (such as the one that Cho Kuk used his governmental position of senior secretary for civil affairs to have insider knowledge of governmental investments, and that he invested inappropriately) concerning his behaviour. No single article could summarize everything that has come to light, as Cho Kuk's entire family (including his mother, his cousins and his children) are under investigation, and his wife alone is under suspicion for having committed ten different crimes (including forgery of her daughter's university application material).

Millions of people came out to protest this injustice.

This political scandal is still ongoing, and Cho Kuk is still under investigation. Unfortunately, the president still saw it fit to appoint him as the minister of justice, and Cho Kuk's first mission as the minister of justice is to reform the prosecution. His policies have clear conflicts of interest and it looks like it will cause quite a stir in the near future (his nephew and his brother are already arrested, and his wife and his mother are under investigation; rumour has it that Cho Kuk is the ultimate target for the prosecution.)

Because of all this, and the nationwide outrage, a new phrase is coming into existence: Instead of 내로남불, people started saying "조로남불" (조국이 하면 로맨스, 남이 하면 불륜: Romance for Cho Kuk, Infidelity for everyone else.)

I'm not sure exactly how this scandal will calm down; I'm guessing that Cho Kuk will have to step down (previously, when another minister came under the investigation of prosecution, he called for immediate resignation of this minister via his Twitter account, another 조로남불!) but anything seems possible in this crazy story, which most Koreans find to be more intriguing than K-Dramas.

If you're interested in the Korean politics, I'd say that this is definitely worth following, as it has been interesting, entertaining, outrageous, and just crazy.

Monday, July 29, 2019

#129. 손절 -- no longer friends

A few months ago, I had a huge fight with a close friend of mine named Anna. Anna and I have known each other since we were about 15 years old, and we knew everything about each other. As the Koreans say:
"우리는 서로의 집에 숟가락이 몇개인지까지 아는 사이였다." (Our relationship was such that we even knew how many spoons were in each others' houses.)
We were always aware that we were polar opposites, and we were always amazed that we somehow made our friendship work for so long. But our trouble started when Anna decided to try a dating app. This particular dating app puts a lot of the burden on the men; I've never tried dating apps, but according to Anna, the men are expected to initiate the first contact, be in charge of setting up the dates, and several dates after the first one. It was supposedly disadvantageous for the women to initiate contact to men who have not already expressed interest.

I don't want to go so far as to call myself a feminist, because I have not actively done anything towards the cause, but I do believe in gender equality, and I thought it was a sexist dating app. I don't think I was alone in thinking this, because the men on that app seemed terrible. One forgot his wallet at home and his plan for the first date was about 30 minutes long; another showed up in running clothes because he planned to go running in an hour, at which point he presumed the date would be over; yet another one told her the wrong location for the first date because they wanted to meet up in a chain restaurant and he confused two chains. This was not surprising to me, because I'd hope that the better men would stay clear away from this app, and that they would want to date a woman who is not just meekly following along, no matter how terrible his plans might be!

Anyway, when I said this to Anna (obviously, I tried to word it more nicely), she got very mad at me, and started defending these men. I felt really hurt, because she was willing to defend these men that she's known for all of three days chatting on this app, against my honest criticism! I mean, I've known her for 15 years, and it took me a lot of courage to even bring this up to her!


So, I spoke to some other friends about the hurt that I was feeling. Along with some other back stories, they all told me that maybe it's time that I stopped being Anna's friend. I still haven't made a decision on what I need to do, but it does give me an opportunity to talk about a new Korean slang that has been making its way around the internet!

If I were to talk to a Korean friend about my situation, I might tell her:
"나 요즘 애나랑 손절할까 고민중이야." (These days, I'm debating whether I need to cut off my friendship with Anna.)
The word "손절" seems very new; I don't think I knew what this word meant just a couple of years ago. This word originally comes from the stock investors; they used this word to mean that they want to sell off their stock before their loss (손해) becomes unmanageable. That is, they cut off (절단) their losses (손해). And the phrase "손해 절단" became shortened to "손절."

But then, recently, perhaps because almost every Korean was said to be investing in Bitcoins and whatnot, some of these investor's jargons made its way into everyday Korean, including the word "손절." Now it means to cut off an interpersonal relationship (before you become even more hurt). So in many relationship advice forums, you'll see titles like:
"이기적인 친구, 손절할까요?" (Selfish friend, should I cut him off?)
or
"동기랑 손절하고싶어요. 어떡하죠?" (I want to cut off a classmate from my life. What do I do?)

A translated version of Beatrice Rouer's "T'es plus ma copine" (you're not my friend anymore)

While this word feels somewhat formal (as its two syllables both have its origin in Hanja), it is nonetheless not correctly used, and some people seem to have strong reactions against it. The correct word to use would be "절교" -- to cut off (절) friendship (교). In fact, when I was a young child going to school in Korea, all our dramas in school ended with someone declaring a 절교 on someone else. Every couple of weeks or so, one of my classmates (I'm ashamed to admit, myself included) would dramatically walk up to someone who have gravely offended them, and declare:
"나 너랑 절교할거야." (I don't want to be your friend anymore.)
Then everyone would gasp, whisper, and take whichever side we felt was the right one. Perhaps because of these experiences, the word "절교" doesn't feel serious anymore, but I'm pretty sure that you could trace this word all the way back to some ancient 선비s (the scholars of the ancient times), who had irreparable differences in opinion, and decide that they could no longer continue visiting each other or speak to each other!



Sunday, May 19, 2019

#127. 존나 -- As f***

I am back from my hiatus with another penis post!

The korean colloquial word for "penis" is "고추," which also means "chili pepper." Presumably it just derives from their shapes.

The word "존나" has become such a classic slang word that I don't imagine it going anywhere. It was popular in the 90s when I was a kid, it is still extremely popular now (in fact, I am told that it was already popular in the 70s and 80s). So in short, every Korean knows what this word means.

To start, here are some examples of the uses for this word.

"선생님이 별것도 아닌걸 가지고 잔소리하는데 존나 짜증났어." (The teacher was nagging at me for nothing, and I was annoyed as f***)
"무슨 밥이 한공기에 만원이야? 존나 비싸네!" (How is a bowl of rice 10,000 won? That's expensive as f***)
"어제 영화보는데 내동생이 옆에서 존나 떠들어서 존나 패버리고싶었어." (My brother wouldn't f***ing shut up while I was watching a movie last night, and I wanted to f***ing beat him up.)

As you can see, the word "존나" is a pretty good translation of the f-word in English, both in its vulgarity and in its meaning. Just like how you expect a bunch of rowdy teenagers roaming the bars at night to be throwing the f-bombs everywhere, the main users of the word "존나" in Korea are also young men with rebellious streaks, and even then, only among close friends or in a fight.

Of course, more people tend to use it on the internet, because internet knows neither the age nor the gender of the speaker (and the Korean internet is a lawless wasteland.)

The word "좆," an extremely vulgar slang word for "penis," has been covered several times in this blog (not because I'm obsessed with it, but because so much of the Korean slang is based on sexuality!) For example, see 좆같다, 좆만하다, and 인실좆.

In this case, the word "좆" has been changed to "존," because the word "존나" comes from the phrase "좆나다," which pronounces exactly like "존나다," shortened to "존나." Well, can you guess what it means?

Here is a photo of a newborn sprout. In Korean, we might say "새싹이 나다 (Sprout has sprouted)."

It is a composition of the noun "좆 (penis)" and the verb "나다 (comes into existence, sprouts, grows, etc.)" You probably guessed it, "좆나다" quite literally means "penis has grown" or "erection."

So for example, the phrase "This pastry is so good that it's giving me an erection = This pastry is good AF" would translate to "빵이 존나게 맛있네," or "빵 존나 맛있네."

Since there is literally no other Korean word that involves the letter "좆" other than the extremely vulgar slang word for "penis," many internet communities will police themselves into blocking any posts that uses the word "좆," or even "좆나" and "존나," so this word has an amazing number of variants. The most common of these is "ㅈㄴ," using just the constants. Other variants include "조낸, 줜나, 졸라, 절라, 존내, 줠라, ..." all of which are vulgar as f***!

So, once again, I would refrain from using these words unless you're a male person into your third drink with your closest male friends (don't even use it in the presence of women... Yes, I know it sounds sexist, but Korea has a longer way to go towards gender equality, and it's better to play it safe than to make a huge faux pas in my opinion!)

Some softened form of this word exists. One is "열라," which comes from "열나다" (to be heated up.) While still not suitable for polite company, this will at least not earn as many frowns if you accidentally say it too loudly in a crowded subway.

For example, you could be having a snack with your girl friends, and say
"와 이 떡볶이 열라매워! 스트레스가 확 풀린다" (Omg, this 떡볶이 is spicy as f***! I feel like all of my stress disappeared.)

Unfortunately, the etymology of this word is a little bit more questionable (the avoidance of the word "penis" is what makes it a little less vulgar). Story has it that "열라" comes from the fact that if you have an extremely vigorous sex, you can heat up your 좆 via the friction.

Yeah.

In the similar vein, sometimes the older generation will use the phrase "좆빠지게," which means to the point where your penis falls off. Stretch your imagination in the context of sex, and deduce for yourselves why this is used as an exaggeration or a strong affirmation of an adjective. For example, you can say
"좆빠지게 일했는데 월급은 겨우 130이네." (I worked my penis off, and my paycheque for the month is only $1300 USD = 1,300,000 Korean won.)

No one believes me when I say that Korean is an extremely vulgar language. Maybe I will pique your interest if I say that literally no one on the internet will be offended by you using the word "존나." You can do much, much worse!


Friday, July 13, 2018

#125. 한국 vs. 독일 -- Korea vs. Germany

I hesitate a little to write this post, because Germany ranks at 7th place in the list of countries that visit my blog most frequently. So perhaps I will start this blog post with a disclaimer that I couldn't care less about the World Cup (really, I'm more of a Canadian than anything else!) and that the Germans beat Canada in Men's hockey in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics... That one still hurts!

That's solid, Germany!

Previously, I had talked about the word "드립." It comes as the familiar form of the word "ad lib" ("애드립" in Korean; to make it a familiar form in slang, just take off the first letter to get "드립", just like how you would omit the last name of a Korean person to be more familiar with them!)

The word "드립" is a bit of a badge of honour, because it is given to hilarious and fresh jokes. If your friend Sooyoung is very good at making funny jokes (the slangy verb form is "드립을 치다"), you can slangily describe that as:
"수영이는 드립을 엄청 잘 쳐." (Sooyoung is very good at making unexpected jokes).
Koreans have never been a serious group of people. Humour of all forms are visible in our traditional culture and literature, and so Korean internet users make all sorts of effort to be hilarious, and they try to be unique in their jokes.

Not surprisingly, the shocking win of Korean soccer team over Germany (and 2:0 at that) provided a great opportunity for the Koreans to come up with new jokes ("드립"), and although I know nothing about soccer, I enjoyed very much reading the one-line witticisms of the Koreans. I thought that I would try to write a blog post before the World Cup fever is over about some of my favourite 드립s. See if you can understand them!

In direct translation, it says "Germany is indeed the country of beer. Even their goalpost is BEER, f*** ㅋㅋㅋ." Of course, "Beer" written in Korean pronunciation is "비어," which can mean "empty" and so, using this substitution, the second phrase becomes
"골대까지 비어있네" (Their goalpost is empty.)
So because Germany is the country of beer (or emptiness, in Korean), their goalpost was empty, which allowed the Koreans to score an extra goal on Germany, whose goalkeeper had joined in the last-ditch attempt to score a goal on Korea.

This tweet talks about 종특 of the Koreans, which I had talked about here. Although the word "종특" can be translated as a "stereotypical characteristic," there is an inherent vulgarity and humour in the word. This tweet says:
"오늘 경기에서 한국 종특 2개나 나옴" (There were two stereotypical characteristics of Koreans in today's match)
The first stereotype is "나만 좆될수 없지," which roughly translates as "I won't be the only one f***ed over." The word "좆" means "penis," although it is used in a wide variety of contexts, such as here and here. In this context, the phrase "좆되다" (become a penis, when translated directly) means "in trouble" or "f***ed up" -- I suppose you would be in a huge trouble if you suddenly became a penis!

For example, you can say:
"어제 여친한테 거짓말한거 들켰어. 나 완전 좆됐어" (I'm so f***ed, my gf found out that I was lying yesterday.)
or
"나 시험공부 하나도 안했는데. 나 좆된거 맞지?" (I didn't study at all for the exam. I'm f***ed, right?) 

In any case, Koreans tend to be fairly jealous of each other's successes (can you blame them, given that competition shapes most Koreans' careers?) and they freely acknowledge it. While it would be frowned upon to take steps to ensure someone else's failures (usually at a heavy cost to yourself), I imagine that you would get at least a few nods of reluctant understanding from some Koreans.

So, since the Koreans were destined to not advance in the World Cup, the next stereotypical thing for the Koreans to do is to make sure that someone else fails, and who is a better target than Germany? Somehow, this situation of "weakest student messing up the top student's chance" resonated with the Koreans, and they took the opportunity to revel in the victory and also laugh at themselves.

The second stereotype is "벼락치기" which literally means "lightening strike," and it is used to describe the cliché situation of cramming for an exam. For example, you can say:
"오늘 시험보는걸 잊어버렸어. 앞으로 30분이라도 벼락치기를 해야겠다." (I forgot that we have an exam today. I should cram for the next 30 minutes.)
or
"성우선배는 벼락치기를 해서 서울대를 간 전설의 인물이야." (Sungwoo sunbae is the legendary character who crammed his way to Seoul National University.)
Many Koreans stereotypically cram for exams, and given that the Koreans scored two goals last-minute, it also seemed like a very typical Korean thing to do.


This tweet translates as "Korea was 'death' in the 'group of death'."

In every World Cup, the Koreans like to identify "죽음의 조" (group of death), which is the group where the competition is the most fierce. More often than not, the group of death will be the group that includes Korea (and maybe one other group, when it's obvious that Korea is not in the group of death!). After all, the Koreans like to think that they fought a hard battle, regardless of the outcome!


In short, the Koreans were just as shocked as the rest of the world at having beaten Germany. They didn't really try to brag too much, though. They enjoyed the miracle and made fun of themselves, and it was really a fun party :)

And I should also update you on why I haven't been writing more posts -- summers are usually the busy months as I travel a lot. Between my travels and personal issues, I just haven't had too much time to write an article, and the background seems to take an increasing amount of time with each article! Come late August or September, I should be able to update more frequently. Thanks for sticking around, dear Korean-lovers!