The Enigma Called ‘Oppa’: How Korean Men Made Their Way Into Our Living Rooms

The Enigma Called ‘Oppa’: There is no doubt that the Korean wave, or Hallyu, has swept over the entire world. The rapid ascent of Korea’s pop culture has affected our choices of seeking entertainment for OTT, music, fashion, art, or films. While we were already aware of Korean films inspiring cinema around the world, or girl-band Black Pink making it to the front row at Paris Fashion Week, or boy-band BTS infiltrating the lives of teenagers all over the world, there is a certain someone who emerged from the K-dramas and walked across from the silicon screen right into our living rooms.




The enigmatic, charming, affectionate presence of the ‘Oppa’ in K-Dramas has captivated the hearts of millions of viewers. And it is not just attributed to his good looks but also how he carries the character he portrays in the shows.

Oppa (n):

A term used by women affectionately for an older man whom she holds in high regard. For K-drama aficionados, he is the drool-worthy embodiment of an ideal man.




What makes this man so desirable?

He is considerate

Oppa is a sensitive person who makes it easy for you when you are in the dumps (Romance is a Bonus Book). He knows exactly when to hold your hand, when to caress your hair, and when to give you a hug (Coffee Prince). He appears magically in front of you when you pray to the Universe (Goblin/Guardian- The Lonely and Great God) and makes it a point never to leave you in limbo. Even if you are not on your best behavior (Twenty-Five-Twenty-One), he will make sure he waits for the right moment to pick you up.

On your way to school (or back), if you’re sleepy, he’ll lend you his shoulder (Reply 1988) and wait for you to snap out of your nap at the exact moment the bus comes to a halt. He will wait for you to return home if it gets too late at the study center and only switches off his room lights after ensuring your safety.




If you want to take a walk (Goblin/Guardian- The Lonely and Great God) or sit on a park bench quietly (One Spring Night), he will give you company and will not nudge you to snap out of whatever turmoil you’re into. He’ll always make sure you have an umbrella if it is raining (Flower of Evil, The Interest of Love, Something in the Rain).

He emotes like a ‘real’ human

Oppa is emotional, and not in the verbalizing ‘I care for you’ kind of way. He expresses his love, concern, fear, grief, and joy in the most humane way. As he uncovers his emotions, you are bound to go ‘aww.’ He’ll go crazy max if he wants to join you (Twenty-Five Twenty-One) in your fun, sprinkling water from an inverted tap or moon over you if he can’t.




If he is sad or upset and wants to shed a tear or two, he will be unabashed about it too. Whether it is heartbreak (Reply 1988), grief (Descendents of the Sun, Doberman), or unrequited love (Startup), he will tear up and make sure you give him some company, too. Even when he finds you at arm’s length but he can’t reach out (Youth of May, Snowdrop), his puppy eyes will make you want to pull him into a comforting hug. He will pine for you (It’s Okay Not to be Okay) and stand by you in every way (Something in the Rain) as rock solid as he can.

He knows how to tie your hair

How blissful it is to have someone show their utmost adoration to you. Tying a woman’s hair for them is a gesture that makes them trust in their significant other the most. Believe me, for women, it means a lot if their hair is treated with utmost care. And they play this gesture out so many times in various situations in different dramas. Whether it is a quick “tie your hair, so no one knows you live here” (Crash Landing on You), “you are my best friend, and I care for you” (Fight My Way), or “I got you a scrunchie as a gift” (The Interest of Love).




Whatever the reason, he knows how to handle your hair carefully and can manage it like a pro, making you all fuzzy in your heart. Oppa knows exactly what you need- a good hair day! And when a strand of your hair has gone astray, he gently tucks it behind your ear, too (Fight My Way).

He doesn’t mind playing second fiddle

Oppa is not an insecure person who always wants to be the center of attraction. Unlike our Tamil/Telugu stars, he does not appear in slo-mo kicking off physics-defying gimmick to leave his mark. All he has to do is stand up for what is right (Start-up), devote himself to a cause (Something in the Rain), or show up when he is needed the most (Crash Landing on You). He does not even need to play the main lead (Little Women & The Glory), yet he would stand up for his righteousness and support the cause of the main lead.




And even if he plays the main lead (Alchemy of Souls), he would let his woman hold his hand and lead him through without feeling diffident. He will buy identical gifts for both of you and let you choose which one to pick first (Alchemy of Souls).

He is sexy AF

Of course, Oppa has been created for prudent reasons to propel Korea’s economy and tourism. But this fact does not stop you from drooling whenever Oppa dials up his charisma. Whether he is riding his horse (The King: Eternal Monarch) or watching the sea while reminiscing his childhood (The Legend of the Blue Sea), whether he is secretly glancing at you from his office window (What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim) or picking up the scattered chestnuts in the street as a result of your goofiness (Coffee Prince) or even while blazing guns (Descendents of the Sun & Vincenzo), he manages to woo you with his evident sexiness.




Oppa is an enticer who can make you swoon with just a glance. He looks dapper in a suit (Romance is a Bonus Book) or even while wearing an unbuttoned shirt (The Legend of the Blue Sea). Whether he is wearing a hanbok (Alchemy of Souls) or decides to go shirtless (Vincenzo, Descendents of the Sun), you know you’re in for a treat.

Actors like Lee Minh Ho, Park Seo Joon, Gong Yoo, Lee Jong Suk, Lee Dong-Wook, Ji Chang-Wook, Kim Woo-bin, Nam Joo-hyuk, and so many others are making their way into the hearts of millions of women across the globe, and there is no doubt that ‘Oppa’ is here to stay.




Of course, we’re aware that no man is like Oppa. But we can only wish there were more men who would stand up and show themselves for who they really are. Until then, let’s continue to engage with Oppa. What say, girls?

Related to Oppa: Top 10 Korean Dramas to Watch

Kajal Kapur

A self professed movie zealot, I swear by Hindi movies. Always been an avid fan of stories and what better way to relate to one than a motion picture. Movies have been a part of me for all my life in some or the other way, though my expression found way with the emergence of social media (Thank God!). With the hope that the intensity with which I enjoy movies gets translated in some form with the people around me, I began my own blog.