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For those of you who cannot ready Korean, this is a way of asking who is oppa.  (It should be obba, but you will usually see 오빠 romanized as oppa.)  But to give a clear answer, one must know a few things.  First, what do oppa mean?  Why would there be confusion about who can be called oppa.  Should you use the word oppa?  And if so, in what setting should you use it?


오빠 is the Korean word for older brother.  But you may have notice that men do not used the term to describe a male who is like a big brother to them.  This is because Korean is a very specific language.  오빠 is what a female will call her older brother.  Or a woman can refer to a man by this term if she feels he is like an older brother to her.  So if you are a guy, you should not call another guy by this term.  In Korea, a guy may get hit for calling another guy 오빠.

Why The Confusion

The confusion for people who are learning Korean comes mainly from Korean dramas.  Sometimes, a woman will call a guy 오빠, even though he is not her brother, and he is not like a brother to her.  So who is he?  A woman sometimes calls a guy 오빠 if they are in a romantic relationship, or if she wants to be in a romantic relationship, and the guy is older than her.  It is also said that in an office environment, that some women call their boss 오빠 when they are having an affair with each other.

When To Say 오빠

While it may be cute for a woman to call her boyfriend or husband 오빠, it is technically incorrect to do so.  Since it is incorrect to do so, but socially acceptable to do so in certain situations or times when dating someone, it is best for a female to ask a male before calling him 오빠.    If he is okay with it, and has a clear understanding of what she means by it, then it can be okay.  However, if he has a problem with it, or knows of a situation where it would not be considered acceptable for him to be called that for any reason, his wishes should be respected.

To be on the safe side, only use 오빠 if you are a female talking to your biological older brother, or to someone who you love only like a brother.  If you call a man 오빠 when you really like him as more than just a brother, you may accidentally put yourself in the friend zone.  With Korean language, it never hurts to double check a meaning or a situation of when to use a word.  That way, you will avoid giving people the wrong impression of what your relationship is with someone else.