Dear Bok Unnie: Leggo my Aegyo?

Dear Bok Unnie:

What is this thing Koreans call “ae-gyo”? I mean, do Korean guys actually like it when girls pout and whine and talk in sing-songy cadences like they do in korean dramas? Is that really a thing and should I start doing it to get Korean men to find me adorable? And does it matter that I’m over 35?


Monotonous and Single


Dear Monotonous and Single,

Oh mah gahd – don’t get me started on aegyo. Every time I see someone doing this, it makes me want to kimchi slap a sister! There are even YouTube videos on how to do this nonsense. I actually tried to do it, and ended up kimchi slapping my own face!

For the uninitiated, aegyo is the art of acting super adorably bratty, often employed by Korean women when they want something from their men. It’s usually accompanied by a nasally whine, sleeve-pulling, and dainty punches to the upper arm of her man. There are lots of unwritten rules about the proper aegyo technique – for instance, the arm punches must be made with the bottom of the fist, never with the knuckles, and they must never exceed the force of a shiatsu massage. Over the years, I have developed a gag reflex whenever I see this.

Korea contributes so many good things to our world – delicious and singular cuisine, amazing music and movies, endless crop of LPGA champions, affordable flat screen TVs,  – but this aegyo is not one of these good things. To me, it’s emblematic of one of the things I think Korea can do better – gender equality. When someone acts like a baby seal, they are not asking to be respected as an equal partner. They’re asking someone to take care of them or club them for their fur. And whoever heard of a 35 year old baby seal? I invite you to join with me to take a stand against aegyo. Enough is enough!

xoxo Bok Unnie

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