People often use pet names for their significant others, but “brother” or “sister” is usually off the table. In Korea, many young women will call the person they are in a relationship with “oppa” -- the same word that Korean people use for “older brother.“ It may sound strange to foreigners, especially if you are watching a TV drama, but for Koreans, it merely means that they are referring to their partner as someone older or wiser than them. It’s a way to show respect in a cutesy way.
By Min Byoung-chul
Min Byoung-chul is an endowed chair professor at Chung-Ang University who is widely known as a multicultural educator and for his practical English teaching. This content is based on his book, “Land of Squid Game,” which can be purchased at major book stores. -- Ed.