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To start, this blog will help readers in Korea understand who some Koreans who live in the United States view them.   It can also be helpful to those of you learning about Korean culture.   When I started hanging out more with Korean Americans a few years ago, I would hear the term FOB a lot.  Each time I heard it, it was in a negative view.  My friends would make jokes about FOBs and talk about how they could never marry a FOB.  But what is a FOB?  Why are the view of Korean Americans sometimes extremely negative against them?  And should you refer to people as being FOBs?


FOB is the shorten from of the term Fresh Off of the Boat.  For Korean Americans, it is a term that refers to someone who has just come over from the Republic of Korea, and has not adjusted to the “American way of life.”  They still do things and have the mindset of a person who is still living in South Korea.  Another way of looking at this is that they are genuine Koreans who are more up to date with Korean language, mannerisms and style than Korean Americans.

Why Is The View So Negative?

The view of “FOBs” can be negative because some Korean Americans feel that they are a higher class of a person than people who are still getting used to life in the United States.  They think the actions of such ones are embarrassing and sad.  So some will try to distance themselves from such ones for fear that others will think they are the same way.  Others do not want to explain all the differences between why people do things one way in the United States and a different way in Korea.  Some feel that if they married such a person, there would be a culture clash that would cause too many problems.  But others may be hiding something.

If you had people under the impression that you were an expert at something when you really were not an expert, the last thing you would want is a real expert to come along and expose the truth.  Many of the Korean Americans that I’ve dealt with that hated “FOBs” tended to be more arrogant and felt that they could easily mislead people into thinking that their views on Korean matters were correct.  A person who just came from Korea would tend to humble them a bit, proving they didn’t know as much about Korean life and culture as they had claimed.  Some of these “FOBs” would also be disappointed in the behavior of these same Korean Americans that would look down upon them due to them knowing real Korean tradition and values.  Hence, why I was told to stay away from”FOBs.”

Should You Call Other People A FOB?

No.  This is a negative term meant to elevate arrogant people.   While this is not a racial slur, it is still a slur against other people because they are different.  One of the saddest things about this is that the people who call other people “FOBs” and look down on them, are the same people who claim that they are looked down upon when they visit Korea.  When they start to speak, some people know they are not really from South Korea and that they had to be raised somewhere else.  The same pain they feel, they are willing to give to someone else.

FOB is a truly disrespectful term that should be used by no one.  There’s is no such thing as an Asian person who is of a “higher class” because of where they were born or when they currently live.  All people deserve respect.  Hopefully now you’ll have a better understanding why some people get so upset at the word FOB.  But if you are in South Korea, did you know that’s how some Korean Americans refer to other Koreans?  Have you heard this term before?  Leave an answer in the comments below and let me know what your thoughts on this word is.