More slang! More Nastiness! And this time aroud, we teach you even more multilingual insults than ever before, starting with the Korean “허세,” not to be confused with “Josè.”


This is actually good slang to know. 허세 is describing a show off or someone pretentious. And generally 허세 is used as the phrase “허세(를) 부리다.”

A long time ago, when Koreans used to use a social network called cyworld, which nobody uses now, there were so many 허세 글 (pretentious blog posts) where you’d write things about your pain, anger, love, breakup, or how fabulous your life is in the most serious way along with a selfie. The kind of posts that makes us readers cringe inside. Google 허세, you will see bunch of examples.

Along with cyworld 허세 글, I use this phrase in these cases:
1) when guys almost get into fist fights at the bar, but they don’t, and then they say, “I could have smashed him with one punch.”
2) You can slap your friend down a bit by saying “왠 허세야,” or “허세 좀 그만 부려!” and bring them back to reality. There are also terms like “허세남” and “허세녀,” meaning pretentious guy and girl.

된장녀 / 된장남

I briefly talked about “된장녀.” This is pretty old slang but you might come across it few times. It describes material girls. But why 된장? 된장, or fermented soybean paste, is one of three crucial pastes used in Korean dishes, along with 고추장, aka: red pepper paste, and 간장, or soy sauce. There are few stories of why we call shallow girls 된장, but the one I know references girls who are willing to pay for Starbucks coffee, which is much more expensive than a meal like 된장찌게. Starbucks is about status. Interestingly, Starbucks coffee is seen as the expensive coffee in Korea; a cup of coffee is also more expensive here than in the States and in the UK.

된장녀 is used to look down on people who are shallow. It’s like saying you live in Gangnam, letting people think you are rich, but the reality is you are living in a moldy basement of a house that leaks.

Throwing Shade

Our American slang today is as misunderstood as it is widely spread. It comes, as so many other linguistic gems do, from drag culture, more specifically voguing in the ’80s. In the video, we loosely define “Throwing Shade” as trash talking, but in reality, it’s oh so much more. And while being “shady” might not be a compliment, throwing shade is definitely an art form.

Unlike trash talking, throwing shade entails much more subtlety. Shade is nuanced. It’s backhanded. We all remember the AC/DC electricity fued between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, right? Calling Thomas Edison a patent-greedy business shark in desperate need of harpooning is trash talk. It’s true, but it’s not particularly artful. On the other hand, heralding Edison as a visionary, for his DC electric technology enabled the electric chair to become a reality, now THAT’s shade.

As much as I enjoy vilifying Edison, insulting him doesn’t help you use “throwing shade” in a sentence. Of course, if you’d like to practice throwing shade, feel free. I’d love nothing more than to hear Edison roasted in the comments. To help with that other thing, here are some ways to use “throwing shade” like a champ:

Can’t nobody throw shade like Mariah Carey at Niki Minaj.
He is alway throwing shade at somebody
If you could stop throwing shade for just one second?

Bonus Round: 허당

This is to describe a person who is inexpertly clumsy or sloppy. 이승기, aka: 윤아 from Girls Generation’s boyfriend, his nickname is 허당 이승기 because he looks smart, neat and together as a person, but makes these cute little mistakes getting names wrong. 허당 is not the same as calling someone stupid or an idiot.

Y’all have left us some amazing comments about your own inside jokes and regional slang (“what’s the crack” being my personal favourite). We’re having a blast reading them, and have more than enough ideas for another year’s worth of D.I.C.K.S. Thanks, guise! We’re working on two British episodes as well based on your recommendations, so if you don’t want to miss our terrible impersonations of the Queen’s English, make sure you subscribe by clicking this button here. Cheers!

  1. *IDEA* Hey, people! For your other videos, I’ve got some idea. One of my Korean speaking friends told me that Koreans have a great variety of names for colors, which English is lacking, IMHO. Do they really have that in daily use too? And what are perceptions about colors for Koreans? Cause I know they always wear really colorful dresses and stuff, I guess they must have an improved perception of colors too.

  2. Small nitpick: Edison’s electric chair was not DC; it was AC. AC power was developed by Nikola Tesla working with Westinghouse, Edison’s main competitor. Edison wanted to demonstrate that AC power was inherently dangerous by using it to kill convicted criminals.

  3. The first time I heard of “throwing shade” was here, about two weeks ago. I have since seen or heard it about six different times.

  4. So throwing shade…is like taking out its spotlight?

  5. Hey guys! I have a question about what context does the ending after a persons name ~Hyuang mean or can be used for in Korean, thanks :).

    • i looked this up and found NOTHING, so i have to ask do you mean 형(hyung)? Hyung is a term that means older brother from a male perspective. but it can be used in many different ways. a guy might call his older male cousins Hyung, he might call his hyung’s friends hyung too. he might even call older unrelated males he is close with hyung. he might also use the term 형님 (Hyung-nim) in any of these instances. Hyung-nim is more respectful and sometimes indicates a level of social distance. like “we’re close but we arent THAT close.” almost always hyung is a word used by younger men to refer to older men and can follow a person’s name. i have seen a few rare instances in k-drama of young women using the term to refer to older males they are close with. sometimes it’s there actual brother others it’s just a close friend but in general when it is used by a woman that woman is tom boyish.

  6. I have a suggestion for you guys- I’m not necessarily actively trying to learn Korean right now, though I would definitely like to slowly work on it. When you guys post the hangul letters I just end up staring at them like ?? Is there any way you could start adding a pronunciation guide next to them? I have trouble catching what you’re saying sometimes, I have the same problem at work where people are trying to teach me more Spanish! Thanks, keep the videos coming!

    • this actually gets suggested alot, and they mentioned in the 1st episode why they dont. romanization (using the english alphabet to spell korean words phonetically) is very counter productive when it comes to learning korean and very often it simply doesnt work. it is actually much easier to just take the time to read learn hangil. it is very easy to learn and there are many free online resources for doing so. if you dont want to learn hangul simply highlight the test and and paste it into google translate which will give you the option to listen to a native speaker say the word as many times as you want.

  7. I didn’t even know there was the term “throwing shade” lol i totally forgot but did we cover “thirsty”? haha someone else mentioned “THOT” (that hoe over there) but no one uses it right. people use it like “that thot is hella pretentious” but you would use “that” twice lol. just my inner grammar nazi at work.

  8. I’ve been watching sooo much Drag Race lately, so I immediately thought of Latrice Royale.

  9. Mariah Carey has a reputation for being an excellent thrower of shade. Search “Mariah Carey shade” on YouTube, and you will get a wide assortment of examples. Calling someone “catty” is very close. A person who is throwing shade is being catty.

  10. Have you heard of the term “Thot”? It’s not very nice, but fun to say. It stands for “That Hoe Over There”. However, I am trying amongst my friends to change it to “That Hottie Over There”. Hopefully it spreads to the masses, slowly crushing misogyny in it’s wake!

    I believe the term started in Chicago: Chief Keef – Love No Thotties https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdL_e7CtNJA

  11. Not really related to slang but I was wondering if there are some words or phrases that Korean Dramas use a ton but that Koreans don’t really say in everyday life.

  12. I just started watching K-Dramas and was wondering about something. Why is it apparently acceptable for Korean male characters to forcefully drag their girlfriends around by the wrists? Is this less than gentle handling of women, a Korean norm, or just specific to the drama I’m watching?

    If I ever did that to my girlfriend she would kill me. On the spot dead.

    FYI……I’m an American male and a big fan of Leigh. I like you too Soozee.

    • This is a hard one to explain (since I’m a Korean girl who doesn’t know enough about foreign perspectives) but to skip any deep bg historical knowledge (that I don’t know of)… A lot of (young) Koreans show affections by obsessing and controlling one another. Not in a severely-crazy-stalker way, of course. And this is reflected in dramas as well. If I actually get dragged out in real life, I WOULD BE super mad. But to WATCH a guy do it to a girl (he likes) ON TV is considered romantic. It shows jealousy, which is a emotion that men rarely express, and women love it when men are jealous.

      Come to think of it, I think I’ve never saw it in real life. Hmm. Maybe parents dragging out their kids from arcades, but thats about it. :P

      Conclusion: “dragging their girlfriends around by the wrists” is probably a technic they use in dramas to emphasize emotions.

    • OMG YES! I’ve just started watching Boys Over Flowers (I know, I’m late) and I have a LOT of issues with that drama, but one of my big problems is the wrist grabbing. I’ve seen it in quite a few music videos, too.

  13. from my experience “throwing shade” extremly subtle. like just a few words, a gesture and a specific face are able to throw shade.
    for example, last year lady gaga had a gigantic mechanical horse on her tour and she dyed her hair green. few weeks into 2014 katy perry did exactly those very two same things and Gaga commented on twitter that having mechanical horses and green hair were the “new thing” appearently and added an emoji with rolling eyes.. I guess it’s just like not explicitly mentioning who you are talking but everybody just knows who you are talking about.

  14. I was gonna comment on the origins of “throwing shade” but you already explained it here. So im just gonna leave this video of Dorian Corey, who is in the documentary Paris Is Burning, about the drag and gay culture of the 80’s in New York, explaining what SHADE is, I higly reccomend Paris is Burning.
    Learn it, and learn it well.

  15. HIII!! Is there a word for someone is over-exaggerates?? Like if you’re out of cookies, the person is all like “NOOO WHYYY??!! WHY IS THE WORLD SO CRUEELLL??” Thanks^^

  16. Hey Soozee~~~ Is there a slang expression for someone who is like a hypochondriac about everything but not in a really mean way? Like someone who always thinks they are sick or something is wrong but nothing really is? When my hubby does this, I just laugh because he just wants to be comforted and taken care of. So I just say, 어버하지마. Not sure on the spelling. xD Thanks.

  17. Thanks for this weeks episode! I’ve never heard any of them, but when you guys were describing 허세 글, I felt like I’ve seen those kind of posts so many times in my life lol! Some k-pop idols do it as well – they write something about where they are or how they’re feeling with a selfie of themselves looking dead serious and stuff, lol! BUT ME HAS REQUEST FOR YOUUU~ Can you pretty please also include a romanization of the hangul words you’re using in this blog post and maybe also in the videos? I know how to say hangul letters but sometimes I get unsure of how it’s pronounced and romanized anyway. Lots of love ♥ xoxo

  18. You should JOsh over to help you out withe Queen’s English and Joel for the Nasty slang.

  19. I really liked this episode, the 된장녀 is indeed a useful phrase~ Can’t wait for more!

  20. Ooooh I’m really looking forward to the British episodes! ^^
    I had heard of ‘throwing shade’ from RuPaul’s Drag Race but I didn’t know it was supposed to be all backhanded and clever like that. I thought it was just insulting people ><

  21. I’ve never heard of throwing shade, or half the other slang terms Leigh has talked about in past videos! And I thought I knew so much about American culture…sniff..

    I recently wrote a paper on emergent gender stereotypes in Korea (for a discourse class, not actually a gender studies class), specifically about the term ‘김치녀’ (will you be talking about that sometime? Although it really shouldn’t be used. It’s sexist and stupid). Obviously I had to mention ‘된장녀’ as well, and I found that some Koreans explain the origin of that word as also coming from ‘된장’ as the milder form of ‘젠장’ (damn)- just like how some people say ‘shoot’ instead of ‘sh*t’, I tend to say ‘이런 된장!’ instead of ‘이런 젠장!’ (it sort of rhymes, too). That would add another layer of insult to the 된장녀 label.
    I once heard from a friend that some of her friends would go around buying the cheapest Starbucks coffee (probably a short Americano) and asking for it to be put in a bigger cup, just for the look of the thing. I’m sure this kind of thing manifests itself in slightly different ways in most every country, though!

  22. I have missed you! Finally you are back :D

  23. A good example of throwing shade would be some of the most recent Taco Bell commercials. They don’t /say/ anything about McDonald’s, but it’s so obvious they’re trash talking them a blind man could see it.

  24. Oh Leigh!Is ok Joyce Lo won’t be mad…LET”S HOPE :/ … SooZee you were pretty close today yes! totally daebak! And like always love your section and Soozee love your hair and stay beautiful!

  25. Poor Joyce Lo. there actually is a chinese surname “Ho”, it is written 何. I can’t image a chinese with that surname living in america…

  26. Hey….reading about the explanation for “허세”, reminds me of that Korean movie Castaway on the Moon with Jung Ryeo Won as a recluse who lies online about how fabulous her life is! and then the people who read her blog found out she was lying!

    ahahaha Lee Seunggi!!

  27. Let us not forget that throwing shade has a visual element as well with the ever effective “side-eye”. Classic example: Sophia Loren throwing shade at Jayne Mansfield’s chest.

  28. Wow I can actually read the hangul now :D

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