Netflix Receives Criticism For Usage Of Korean Honorific “Oppa” On Twitter

The tweet has since been deleted.

There are some Korean words and phrases everyone is familiar with, whether they are fluent in the language or not.

Hyun Bin saying “Fighting!”

Of course, there is one word in particular that almost everyone knows due to its popular usage in K-Dramas and K-Pop.

GOT7’s Jay B

This word is none other than the honorific 오빠 (Oppa).


Honorifics are words meant to be used to show respect. Yet, because of its popularized usage in Korean entertainment, foreigners often misinterpret it, resulting in many even misusing it. This is why “oppar” has also become a meme within international K-content communities.

| Urban Dictionary

So, Netflix has now received criticism from netizens for inappropriately using “oppa.”

Sechs Kies

Netflix India tweeted, “Who’s your oppa?” with an emoji. Obviously, it was meant to attract the K-Drama lovers in the comments.

Now deleted tweet. | @NetflixIndia/Twitter

Instead, it sparked criticism.

| @Samfused/Twitter

The tweet surely attracted the attention of K-Drama and K-Pop fans, but just not as Netflix India hoped. Netizens called out Netflix for asking an inappropriate question rather than focusing on making needed changes to the streaming service.

The fact is “oppa” has many meanings, to begin with. It’s a Korean honorific and technically has no 100% accurate direct to English translation. There is just not an equivalent in the English language.

Song Joong Ki in “Descendants of the Sun.” | KBS

Most of the time, “oppa” is translated as “older brother.” It is also to be used only by women to older males. Likewise, there are words for younger men to older (hyung) and vice versa. Words like this are basically are a more honoring way of saying “you.”

| The Kaist Herald

“Oppa” is often used by women when speaking to or about their literal older brother or even a cousin. You would call even a close older male friend (even by just a year or two) or a neighbor “oppa.”

Ahn So Hee (left) and Yeon Woo Jin In (right) as adoptive siblings in “Thirty-Nine.”

Now, the other meanings that it gets too often associated with are its usage for significant others and celebrities.

Many fans of K-Pop and K-Dramas tend to refer to their favorite male idols as “oppa” regardless of age.

Basically, if he is handsome, then he is “oppa.”

Ji Sung in “Kill Me Heal Me” | MBC

Another reason this is so commonplace is due to women referring to their significant other as “oppa,” especially in K-Dramas.

Historically, most women would date and marry an older man, hence why they were referred to as “oppa.” Yet, due to popular romance dramas, it is so often associated as to be the equivalent of affectionate nicknames like “honey,” “darling, “babe,” etc.

Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young in “What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?” | tvN

Netflix will even translate “oppa” in English subtitles as “babe” when used in this context rather than explain its true meaning. There are many examples, but the most famous is Squid Game.

Kim Joo Ryoung in “Squid Game.” | Netflix

Consequently, “oppa” has become like “daddy” for international fans of Korean entertainment.

So, naturally, when netizens saw Netflix India’s inappropriate usage of “oppa,” netizens were disturbed. It has become common for the honorific to be used inappropriately, but it was shocking for an official corporate account to use it this way.

Netflix India has since deleted the now-infamous tweet. Yet, other official Netflix accounts perpetually use “oppa” in the same context. The Swoon, Netflix’s K-Drama brand, frequently uses this word, including in memes.


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Source: Twitter

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