Sunday, April 11, 2021

everything I hate about aegyo culture in 25 seconds

In Korean culture, the term aegyo refers to the super-saccharine, sickeningly cute manner of certain women—especially women in their twenties—who speak with exaggeratedly high-pitched voices and singsong intonation, and who make pouty faces as if they were five years old.  My theory is that this is a response to what certain Korean men find sexy—a super-juvenilized prepubescent female.  Just why this is sexy is a mystery to me, and while I'd normally say "further research is needed," I have zero desire, frankly, to pursue the topic any further.  Maybe I should appreciate the aegyo culture:  it seems to cater to Korean men's pedo instincts while keeping those men away from actual little girls.  (If you pay attention to the news, though, you know that middle-school girls do get assaulted in this country.)

I found, thanks to YouTube's bizarre algorithm, the following video, which is a perfect demonstration by a Japanese-speaking Bulgarian chick of what aegyo looks like.  The girl switches instantly into "Japanese mode," and the aegyo pours painfully out of the screen.  Luckily for you, the experience lasts only a few seconds—just enough time to inject a painful dose, but not enough of a dose to smooth your brain out and put you into a coma.  Disgusting aegyo aside, I admit I'm impressed by the girl's Japanese proficiency.  Here's the vid:

A couple things to note in the interest of fairness:

1. Korean women get married, have kids, and the role of wife/mother banishes most, if not all, of their aegyo spirit.  Korean women often see themselves as mothering their husbands as well as their kids (for many Korean women, husband = big, wayward child with no common sense); in most Korean households, it's the wife who manages the finances and dictates what counts as responsible spending.  (Expat husbands of Korean women from rich families, however, tell me that their wives don't have a very developed financial sense, so it's up to the hubby to manage the finances.)  Anyway, marriage is the sudden lurch into maturity for Korean women, not because those women were actually immature before marriage, but because they've put up a pretense, via aegyo, of being shy, conflict-avoiding, and unwilling to express opinions (true:  much of that is changing if my observations of dating couples have any validity).  Along come the roles of wife-hood and motherhood, and suddenly, the woman finds herself needing to exercise authority, both for the family's integrity and for her children's safety and edification.  This is why Koreans believe a quiet, diffident agashi (young woman) becomes a loud, assertive ajumma (an "auntie") once she's married.  Upshot:  aegyo is just a phase.

2. The male fascination with girls too young to be women isn't uniquely Korean.  In the States, porn fantasies involving girls dressed as cheerleaders or private-school students abound.  (The common link seems to be the erotic quality of short, pleated skirts, which project a sense of innocence and—cough—purity to Western guys.)  Western women have, among their bag of tricks, the heart-melting use of doe eyes and cute pouts to get men to do what they want.  While not fully aegyo-ish in nature, these tricks do swing close to the aegyo zone.  Men everywhere are attracted to a combination of perceived innocence and sluttiness, and even though all parties are aware that the combination of qualities is a sham, men are suckered by it all the same:  men know they're being fooled, but they just don't care because, well, it's their dick that's doing the thinking at that point.  And dicks don't think.

So if you find yourself even a little titillated by the Bulgarian chick doing her aegyo thing, seek help.  You obviously need it.  Me, I want a woman to be and act like a woman.

(In the above vid, the girl says she's a high-schooler, doesn't she?)


John Mac said...

Interesting. I honestly didn't witness a lot of the aegyo behavior when I lived in Korea. Then again, women in their 20s had no interest in a fat old bastard like me. I did have an interesting experience with my then-girlfriend, Se Hwa, once. She came to my place one day with a schoolgirl uniform similar to the one in this video. She wanted to do a role-play thing where she was the student and I was the teacher. She said she really needed an "A" in my class. I, of course, played along...

Charles said...

Aegyo is also a generational thing--older generations of Koreans find it just as bewildering as you do. It's also not universal (or at least universally as severe) even in the generations it does infect. And I think K-pop has exacerbated the problem. But that's a whole other can of worms.

Also, from personal experience, I think it is becoming a mother, as opposed to just getting married, that tends to bring about the most significant changes.

Kevin Kim said...


I conflate marriage and motherhood in Korean culture because I think most Koreans do, too. Life is supposed to follow a standard (and inevitable) trajectory here: graduate, get a job, get married, have kids, grow old, pamper your kids, retire, pamper your grandkids, depart this mortal coil—secure in the knowledge that you've followed your Korean dharma. Not to say that things are that different in the States, but in the States, there's less of a sense of duty-bound fatalism or dharmic obligation.

Charles said...

I would agree that most Koreans conflate marriage and motherhood in that they generally expect one to follow shortly after the other. There is, however, a very clear shift in behavior between the two that I have witnessed. It's almost like a switch has been flipped.

I think things might be changing a little (and very slowly) with regard to what women are expected to do or be, but there definitely still is a very clear 賢母良妻 mindset; if you don't subscribe to this, you are pushing against the tide.

Kevin Kim said...


There you go again, making me look shit up. And now, I've learned a new expression. Damn you, Charles. Damn you to hell.