Musician Mrshll and choreographer Jonah recently launched Neon Milk, a queer Korean YouTube channel. But among their videos featuring drag queens working in the South Korean capital of Seoul, they’ve also released a great video that delves into Korean gay slang. Some of the slang they investigate is super funny, and it all sheds light on the cross-cultural similarities of gay life.
Because we don’t speak fluent Korean, we’re going to use English pronunciations of the Korean gay slang rather than hangul (Korean alphabetic symbols).
Mrshll and Jonah go over a bunch of Korean gay slang terms, but here are some of our favorites:
Sheek: It means “You look so eatable,” kind of like when we call a sexy guy “a snack” or say, “He’s a full meal.”
Guh-ru-ko: This phrase literally translates to “a walking coming out,” or someone who is so obviously and flamboyantly gay that they come out to everyone just by walking down the street.
Yock-day: While this term literally means “subway university,” it’s Korean gay slang for when you go to gay clubs so often that everyone there already knows you.
Goon-ma: It means “muscle bottom” but translates literally as “muscular mama.”
Bi-bi: This means “no” as in a way to turn down certain suggestions. For example, if you wanted to go to a gay bar, but didn’t want to go to The Eagle, you could say, “Yeah, let’s go out, but the Eagle is bi-bi,” as in, “The Eagle is a no.”
Some of the other Korean gay slang mentioned by Mrshll and Jonah indicate that being closeted, body shaming (particularly on gay apps) and having a small, close-knit community are just as common among South Korean gay men as they are among American gay men.
Here’s the video on Korean gay slang:
What’s gay life like in South Korea?
Although South Korea has never had laws forbidding homosexuality, the country lacks nationwide LGBTQ non-discrimination protections. Furthermore, it also lacks marriage equality, same-sex couples can’t adopt and openly LGBTQ people cannot serve in its military.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has said that he’s opposed to homosexuality, same-sex marriage “should not be encouraged” and gay servicemembers would undermine South Korea’s military.
Nevertheless, the country recently held its first-ever drag parade and held its 18th annual queer culture festival with over 85,000 attendees. The nation’s capital also holds Shade Seoul, an underground queer dance party, and the country recently got its first-ever openly gay K-Pop singer, Holland.