Netflix's 'Single's Inferno': 7 Popular Korean Phrases And Their Meanings Explained

Things are heating up on Single's Inferno, a new Korean dating show on Netflix, which sees 12 singletons (six men and six women) spend eight nights on a remote island in a bid to find true love.

The new series became the first Korean reality show to make it into Netflix's global top 10 ranking earlier this week, according to FlixPatrol.

The show sees the singles attempt to get coupled up to escape the island and enjoy a private overnight getaway at a luxury hotel suite away from the others.

Tensions remain high as the real-life K-drama unfolds and much of it is played out in the Korean dialogue between the singles.

Here we explain some of the popular Korean phrases used in the series that may have got lost in translation.

1. Oppa

On the first night on the island, the singles were each asked to write an anonymous message to the person who sparked their interest and place the note in their respective mailbox.

The phrase "오빠? [oppa]" was the only message written on an anonymous postcard received by Kim Hyeon-joong during the first night at the island, which was actually a big clue as to who wrote the message.

Oppa is a Korean honorific term which, in the strictest sense, is used by women when addressing their older brother. However, the term can be used by women when referring to any man who is older than them and can also be an endearing term.

Earlier in the day, while on a walk with Hyeon-joong to fetch water, Song Ji-ah revealed to him that she prefers "oppas" when asked about the type of men she goes after.

The term can be heard throughout the series as some of the singles get to know each other's ages.

2. Dae bak

The phrase "대박 [dae bak]" is another term frequently heard in the series, including when Ji-ah and some of the other singles strutted down a walkway towards the sandy beach coast to meet the others for the first time or at other times when some surprise is revealed.

The term, which is the equivalent of saying "jackpot!," is commonly said by Koreans to express their surprise, disbelief, amazement and excitement in any given situation. It's similar to saying "oh my God" or "that's incredible" or "amazing."

3. Dae shi

During various introductory videos for each single, many (either sheepishly or confidently) claimed they're the type who receives a lot of "대시[dae shi]," meaning they tend to get hit on quite often.

It can be seen as a play on the English word "dash" and the idea of making a dash toward the person you like.

4. Mae ryeok

The introductory videos also saw the singles each be asked to state their "매력 [mae ryeok]." Throughout the series the singles could be heard saying so-and-so "has a lot of mae ryeok" while chatting about different people at their sleeping tents.

The word refers to a person's attractiveness, charm or appeal. In a later episode, each of the women were seen taking turns to do their "mae ryeok appeal" to Cha Hyun-seong (one of three singles to arrive on the island later in the series) in a speed-dating style.

5. Somaek

When Seong Min-ji (who also joined the singles in a later episode) was asked what food she craved the most, her answer was simply "소맥 [somaek]," which is a type of "술 [alcoholic drink]" made of soju (a colorless Korean spirit that looks like vodka or gin) and maekju (the Korean word for beer).

The series is full of other common Korean food and drink terms, such as "막걸리 [makgeolli]" (a milky looking rice wine with sweet/tangy taste) and "안주 [ahn ju]" (snacks or small dishes you have while drinking alcohol), which the singles are given on one evening along with a barrel of different types of beer.

Some of the classic Korean dishes cooked during the first night was "된장국 [doenjang guk]" (a soup made with a Korean fermented bean paste, similar to Japanese miso), "보쌈 [bossam] (slices of boiled pork shoulder) and "볶음밥 [bokkeum bap] (fried rice).

6. Gyo poh

When Oh Jin-taek struts towards the others for the first time (wearing an all-white suit with a black buttoned down shirt and bit of a stubbly face), one of the women, Kang So-yeon, said he has "교포 [gyo poh]" vibes. The term refers to a Korean foreigner, meaning a person of Korean descent who was born or raised outside South Korea.

7. Saturi

Asked who he was initially attracted to during the first episode, Kim Jun-sik said he was drawn to Ahn Yea-won because he likes women who use "사투리 [saturi]]," which refers to any Korean dialect accent.

Yea-won, who is from Busan (South Korea's second most populous city located in the south of the country) has an adoring Busan accent.

You can also hear a saturi tone in Ji-ah's voice and even slight hints of it from Jin-taek, who is from the Gyeongsang region, which is also in the south of the country.

A scene from "Single's Inferno" on Netflix.
A scene from "Single's Inferno" on Netflix, a Korean dating show set on an island. Netflix

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