Korea is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world with 70% of the population hooked on to smart phones, so it is no wonder social-media platforms have booming popularity. Instagram is the hottest photo-sharing app, and Korean Instagram users reveal a lot about modern Korea through the pictures they share. These popular Instagram hashtags will open a gateway in to a slice of Korea’s vibrant youth culture.
Selfie = #셀스타그램, #셀카
The word ‘selfie’ broke mainstream in 2013, is the American version of the ‘Selca’. The Korean word 셀카/’Selca’ is derived from combining ‘self’ and ‘camera’. 셀카 (Selca) and 인스타그램 (Instagram) is combined to make the hashtag #셀스타그램 (#Selstagram). These two hashtags are the most popular for face snaps, but #얼스타그램 (#Ulstagram) is an alternative hashtag, which combines 얼굴 (Ulgul), meaning ‘face’, with ‘Instagram’. Photoshop apps are readily available and common in Korea, specifically due to the popularity of selcas.
Food = #먹스타그램, #먹방
This hashtag is sure to make your mouth water. This hashtag combines the verb ‘to eat’ (Mukda) 먹다 with ‘Instagram’, to make #먹스타그램 (#Mukstagram). #먹방 (#Mukbang) is a combination of ‘to eat’ and 방송 (bangsong) ‘broadcast’. The voyeuristic pleasures of looking at what other people eat, and even watching them eat has entered mainstram media in the last year or two.Korea has fantastic food, as the competitive consumer market means that producers have to produce unique, delicious and good-looking dishes to attract customers. Helpful hint! If you search #먹방 with a location, you can find great restaurants in that area!
Ootd and Fashion= #일상, #데일리룩
Fashion dominates every visual medium, including photo sharing apps. Some Koreans use the popular hashtag #Ootd, (which stands for ‘outfit of the day’) for outfit pictures, although hangeul alternatives reach a specific Korean audience. #일상 (Ilsang) means ‘daily life’ and #데일리룩 is literally the hangeul spelling of ‘daily look’.Korea is a stylish and trend-concious country, so exploring this hashtag will give you a trendy street-fashion inspiration.
Dogs and Cats = #개스타그램, #냥스타그램
You can’t talk about Instagram, without talking about animals. Instagram accounts of cute pets have thousands of followers.#개스타그램 (Geh-stagram) translates to #dogstagram, and #냥스타그램 (Nyang-stagram) literally means #meowstagram. Many people still judge Koreans on the false and outdated stereotype that all Koreans are cruel to animals, but this is far from the case as most Koreans adore and dote on their pets. You will find thousands of cute kitties and puppy-eyes to fawn over with this hashtag.
5. Dating = #커플스타그램
Although this hashtag may not be as popular as those previously mentioned, but it is worthy of mention as this unique hashtag reveals a lot about Korean dating culture. Being a couple and expressing affection is done very differently in Korea. 커플 is the hangeul spelling of ‘couple’ which makes the hashtag simply ‘#couplestagram‘. This hashtag displays mainly pictures of food on dates, couples posing in cute ways together or wearing couple clothes (which are same clothes in male and female sizes). While public skinship is rare, boldly exhibiting the status of a relationship through matching clothes and jewellery is common and displayed proudly though Instagram.
Instagram is a really fun way of looking at Korea, and it could also be a great way to learn subtle things about the culture and give you a lot of inspiration.