Chinese Embrace Korean Word

The Korean word "oppa," which women here use to refer to older men or their boyfriends, has become popular in China but is there being used to refer to handsome men.

Widespread use of the word stems from the global hit "Gangnam Style" and growing popularity of Korean soaps.

China's state-run Global Times on Thursday said there is a restaurant in Seoul where the staff members are all "oppa" so that female customers line up. The daily used the word "oppa" without explaining it, as if it was widely known in China.

The word was listed last month in the online encyclopedia of the Chinese portal Baidu.com, where it is written as "歐巴" and said to connote amorous feelings toward the subject.

Another Korean word that has gained usage in China is "ajumma" or "auntie," referring to a married woman. It is used to refer to tough women.

"Oppa" first appeared in popular use after Korean heartthrob Lee Min-ho, who starred in the soap "The Heirs," appeared on CCTV. Chinese netizens described Lee as an "oppa with long legs," prompting queries for a definition.

The word became globally known through Psy's hit video "Gangnam Style" in which the podgy anti-hero refers to himself as "oppa" in his dealings with pretty young women, but the meaning apparently got lost in translation.

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 28, 2014 13:03 KST