You have probably already heard the words oppa (오빠), hyung (형), noona (누나), and unnie (언니) on several occasions. Perhaps you are residing in Korea or watch a lot of Korean dramas and other shows. But do you know what they actually mean, why they are used, and when to use them? At first glance they might look like they’re just silly little words that get thrown around too much. However, it’s actually of great importance to be knowledgeable about them.
In Korea, it’s important to know the age of the person you are dealing with, and refer to them accordingly. You might have come to Korea from a Western country where ‘age is just a number’, but that’s quite the opposite in South Korea. Not only that, but Koreans have their own age-calculating system where your age is calculated based on your birth year. When January 1st hits, everyone becomes one year older, so to speak. Which month you were born on doesn’t matter in that sense.