The Reason Why It’s Difficult To Make Friends In Korea, As Told By A Korean

The reason is probably not what you expect…

YouTube lifestyle vlogger Rachel Kim explains why it’s so difficult to make friends in Korea, and while that’s true pretty much anywhere, the reason is definitely not what you’re expecting!

Are you ready? Because the reason is quite surprising!

No seriously, it’s totally unexpected!

You’re not going to be able to call as many people ‘friend’ as you want because in Korea the word ‘friend’ only applies to people the same age as you. So, basically, to call someone your friend, you must have been born in the same year with them.


Wait, what? A little confusing, right? But Rachel explained if you hear a story of an old man and a child getting along well, while it’s a heartwarming story, they cannot be friends because of the disparity in age! Because the old man is, well, older than the child, it feels disrespectful to imply that they can be friends.

So, what’s a guy or gal to do if you can’t just go around calling people close to you your friend?

The answer is simple! If your female friend is older than you and you’re a woman, you would call her “unnie”. If you’re a man, you would call her “noona”. As for male friends, a woman might call an older man “oppa”, while men refer to other men who are older than them as “hyung”.

As for what you would call someone younger than you? Whether they’re a man or woman, you can call them “dongsaeng”!

So, although you can’t make a ton of friends in Korea, the trade-off is that you now have a bunch of brothers and sisters!

Even though we may not be able to be friends in Korea, we can call each other like we’re family.