People say that eavesdropping is socially unacceptable but how can you avoid it if you’re in a room with drunk and loud people. Haha! While Hubby and I were having dinner at our new favorite restaurant, I couldn’t help but listen to the conversation of a group of ajummas (married women) at the other table. While sipping some soju, one ajumma kept on criticizing her non-Korean sister-in-law who always calls her husband “Oppa” in front of their family.
“Oppa” is a polite term used by Korean females to address an older male. It basically means “older brother” or “kuya”. It is also commonly used by women to address their older boyfriends. While I believe there is nothing wrong in calling your husband “Oppa” or whatever term of endearment you are comfortable with, it is better not to address him that way in front of your in-laws or Korean elders, or when you are in public places.
The commonly used proper terms of endearment for married couples in Korea are “Yeobo” and “Dangshin.” Never call him in his first name especially when his parents are around. That is so rude. When you already have a child, you have to address him as “name of your child” followed by “appa.” The same thing goes for you. You are to be called “name of your child” followed by “omma.” Yes, you will lose your first name once you get married to a Korean. You’ll be someone’s wife or someone’s mom.
I wasn’t aware of this until my mother-in-law called my attention and reprimanded me many years ago. She didn’t stop me from calling my husband “Oppa” but she reminded me to avoid using that term when elders or his siblings are around. Hehe! Well, it may not be a big deal for us, but being aware of this particular culture will save us from getting criticized in Korean society. 🙂