In a culture heavily influenced by consumerism and lookism, being materialistic and vain has become prevalent. Derogatory comments which criticise women with these flaws have spawned off the internet, and now have made it into mainstream lexicon. While many terms exist and many new ones are being churned out, the following three are the most commonly known and used.
Bean-paste Girl (된장녀 ‘dwenjang nyuh’)
This is a stereotype of a high-maintenance woman who has superficial values, and excessively flaunts luxury brands pretentiously, yet uses money sponged off of family and men. Like a gold-digger, flirting and aegyo is used to take advantage of (seemingly innocent) men. For this reason, this term is usually used by disgruntled partners and jealous friends. But why bean-paste? There are many origins to the term.
- The girl is so materialistic that she girl lives off of cheap bean-paste stew to save money in order to buy luxury items.
- The word for bean-paste ‘dwenjang’ is a development from the exclamation ‘jen-jang’ (젠장) meaning ‘Damn!’ which has a similar pronunciation.
- A girl who is so stupid that she gets faeces and bean-paste confused.
- Putting on a luxurious Western pretence (characterised by foreign brands, Starbucks coffee, dyed hair etc), but eats Korean bean-paste stew at home, insinuating a two-faced faux persona.
Kimchi Girl (김치녀 ‘kimchi nyuh’)
Although kimchi is a loved national dish, on the contrary a kimchi-girl is an insult popularised by the website Ilbe, which generalises and insults all Korean women. The definition of kimchi girl is flexible, but overall it means women who have high expectations of men, but does not meet these standards themselves. This collection of ‘typical’ kimchi-girl comments highlights their shallow attitudes; criticising how much the man earns, what car he drives and height.
Women have come forward to criticize this sexist language as it is being used to vilify women. Men use this term freely to degrade women who do not fit their contradictory ideals; beautiful but natural, sexy but innocent, cute yet flirty. The term kimchi to generalise bad behaviour and stereotype Koreans brinks on internalized racism.
Princess Disease (공주병 ‘gongju byung’)
A woman who is narcissistic and displays haughty behaviour is said to have contracted this imaginary disease. Someone with ‘princess disease’ is typically characterised by delusional narcissism (excessive self-praise and gazing at reflective surfaces) and being a snob.
Sometimes this term is used for females living in a fantasy, likely to be the result of excessive childhood pampering, media exposure, or learned habits. However it is also used day to day light-heartedly to condone public expression of self-confidence. Being humble is an important value in the East, therefore society reacts very negatively to bragging.
All these negative traits (self-centred, loving luxury brands, narcissistic) have always existed regardless of age, gender and nationality, but it is only recently that these new terms have been created to explicitly point out these flaws.
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