Even if you’re outside the K-Pop or Kdrama sphere, you may have an inkling of what aegyo is supposed to be. But you may also be wondering: what is aegyo anyway?
As for the rest of us living in the Hallyu sphere, we know full well that aegyo (애교) refers to being or acting cute. When you do aegyo, you act in a childishly or cutely, despite not being a child. The purpose of the aegyo is to show off your adorable side, especially if you want to ask a favor from someone.
Aegyo is all about acting like a baby in your facial expressions or voice to achieve results. You can also demonstrate aegyo in the way you dress or decorate your home.
Who Uses Aegyo Anyway?
In popular culture, K-Pop idols use aegyo to amuse their fans, particularly the youngest members of the band (aka the maknaes). During fan events or shows, idols are seen acting cutesy to each other just to win favors from their fellow members or to please the fans. Most idols also use aegyo for fan service, especially when they’re posting pictures, hosting a livestream or performing in front of fans.
However, idols aren’t the only ones who can do aegyo.
In South Korea, aegyo is performed mostly by women, especially if they want something from each other or their partners. Some feminine men also do aegyo. Regular guys can also do aegyo, but some people feel weirded out or uncomfortable if they do so.
Most people don’t use aegyo regularly or extremely. If you don’t use aegyo right, it can make you look ridiculous. Exaggerated aegyo only works for people on dramas or comedy shows.
How Do You Do Aegyo?
There are many ways to do aegyo:
- Do the basic hand gestures. One of the most common aegyo gestures is the heart, specifically the finger heart. People use the finger heart gesture to amuse, flirt or act cute. Idols also create a big heart using both of their hands to express their love for their fans.
- Pout while you talk. South Koreans often stretch the final vowel of a word when they want to act cute, which causes them to talk in a pout. If you want to do the same, you can talk in a small baby voice while pouting.
- Full-on aegyo body gestures. If you’re not a big fan of the heart but still want to do some aegyo, go on with the cute noises and foot stomps.
How Can You Look Cute?
Apart from the hand gestures and facial expressions, you can also look cute by achieving “aegyo sal,” aka the cute eye bags. Aegyo sal makes you look cuter by making your eyes look bigger.
It’s all about “popping” your eyes in an attractive way.
To achieve aegyo sal, you can use eyelid tape to create a double-lid effect. Apply a strip of tape beneath your lower eyelid to create a puffy effect. Pull the tape in a straight line and smooth it flat against your skin.
You can also use makeup to create aegyo sal. Smile to reveal the line under your eyes for naturally occurring cute eyebags. Underline the area with a light brown eye shadow. Next, layer the area with a pearly-colored illuminating powder or eye shadow. Next, outline the whole area to create a perfect aegyo sal effect.
So the next time you want to achieve something, a little aegyo sal might swing things in your favor. Remember: act cute always!
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Ashley is an awkward potato in love with words, Kpop, and corgis. She spends her free time dancing like one of those balloon things you see in malls.