Learning Korean :)


I just noticed that for extra respect, guys say “Hyung-nim” or “Noonim” but I never hear women say “Oppa-nim” or “Unnim”. Is it a thing or have I just not watched enough dramas??


You’re right. If they want to be super-respectful for instance in the workplace, they use the title, rather than something based on “oppa” or “unni”. And for family members, women also say “hyeong-nim” when they want to be extra respectful. Not to their own older brother, but for their in-law family, their husband’s family (where they have to be super-respectful to everyone):

Brother-in-law (husband’s side, older brother) → 형님 (hyeongnim) [also 아주버님 (ajubeonim)]
Surprisingly to women too.
Sister-in-law (husband’s side, older sister) → 형님, 언니 (hyeongnim, eonni)
Husband’s older brother’s wife → 형님 (hyeongnim)

First time I heard “hyeongnim” said by a woman to another woman I thought I didn’t hear well. Later on I understood.


Hi, this is so nice, if you still can send it to me I would be so happy = ) My email :


Me too haha but I don’t feel like I have progressed that much…


@vivi_1485, there’s no oppa-nim or unni-nim. In the olden days, girls would use the word “orabeoni 오라버니” for oppa, and you can change it to “orabeonim 오라버님” to be extra respectful. And instead of unni, they could call an older woman “hyeongnim” to show respect.

@irmar is partially correct that a woman can still call another woman “형님 hyeongnim,” and it’s now only used in the in-law relationship. However, a woman would never call a man “heyongnim,” as this term is only used for your husband’s older sister OR the wife of your husband’s older brother. So the term “hyeongnim” is only used between the same gender.

@irmar 아주버니/아주버님 (ajubeoni/ajubeonim) is a term used to refer to your husband’s older brother OR your husband’s older sister’s husband. You’d never call them Hyeongnim.


I got it from here. Of course they may be wrong :slight_smile:

As for the females of your husband’s family, I’ve heard it quite a lot in All About My Mom, which I binge-watched the last two weeks. Fantastic drama by the way! And there were quite a lot of family terms used, all the time.


What they wrote isn’t incorrect, but they didn’t really specify who is using the term. So for “Brother-in-law (husband’s side, older brother) → 아주버님 (ajubeonim), 형님 (hyeongnim),” the term hyeongnim can be used by the husband to refer to the wife’s older sister’s husband.

Yeah, it’s confusing for sure. But just remember that only a man can call another man hyeongnim, and a woman can call another woman hyeongnim.


thanks for the detailed explanation!
So bro-in-law on the husband’s side is ‘ajubeonim’…and a woman would call the husband of her sister ‘hyeongbu’? I’ve heard that in a few dramas…
In the variety show Busted, Sejeong always calls Sehun ‘hyeong’, both on and off-screen. That’s an exception, right? She’s doing it as her own personal thing and it’s not a rule?

could you give me review/summary? the Viki summary is literally only one sentence in English :expressionless: thought there’s a whole essay for Korean and I’ll take an entire day to read :joy:


You know, these 50-episode family dramas that show how the majority of Koreans still think? Well, that one is from 5 years ago. It’s the story of a mother who is the real head of the household and tries to do what she thinks is the best for her children - who all have quite different ideas and pursue their own love stories and make their own career choices. If you liked Five Children, Father is Strange and Once Again, you’ll love this one too. Of course one does suffer in seeing the very old-fashioned pre-conceived ideas that seem absurd to us, but with your own Indian background you probably wouldn’t find all this so foreign and out-of-this-world.
Most of everything, there is some great acting from the mother and the father couple. Incredible actors, both. And the couples are all cute.
Enough of this, as it’s seriously off-topic. But I heartily recommend this drama.


Some girls don’t like the word ‘oppa’ and just call guys ‘hyeong’. Maybe she’s like that too (I haven’t watched that show).


@vivi_1485, I haven’t watched the show so I am not sure of the context but young females will sometimes use “hyeong” instead of “oppa” to show that the relationship is very close but strictly platonic. You also see this quite a bit between a female cop and her male partner.


That’s correct.

Ah, yes. I forgot that there are times when a girl would call an older boy “hyeong.” It’s not actually an official term but sometimes tomboyish girls would do that to show the “platonic” relationship between the two. It shows that she has no interest in him whatsoever as a potential future boyfriend and the boy should think of her as his “younger brother” rather than a girl/potential girlfriend. I didn’t see that particular variety show and I don’t even know who Sehun (which I assume is a guy?) is, but it sounds like that’s what’s happening in this scenario.


I should have read your reply first before replying back to vivi, since you pretty much said the same thing as me already. :slight_smile:

Who Are You Missing! Who is gone (serving) for 2 years or due back soon!😭

I think I sometimes forget how complex the use of Korean familiar terms is until I see comments in this forum. By the way, I think you are wonderful at explaining Korean language and culture.


Happened in “Doctor Stranger”. Although in that particular case, the tomboyish girl was secretly in love with the charming doctor.


j’étudie le coréen depuis plusieurs mois, via la méthode de korean
Voici le lien

En septembre 2021 je poursuivrai mes études au centre culturel coréen en Belgique


I came across this video where she explains the reason herself.


Yeah, I had watched this and thought maybe a lot of girls think this way, hence the doubt :sweat_smile:


In case it has not been posted already, here is the link to the National Institute of Korean Language.


I have a question about learning Korean.
Do beginners learn first with hangul along with the pronunciation + definition written down, then progressively learn without the pronunciation written down or do they learn directly hangul without pronunciation?