Newcomers to the K-pop world will often find themselves baffled by an online culture riddled with inside jokes, confusing terms and a unique vocabulary. While words like “leader” and “comeback” are pretty self-explanatory, there are also some head-scratchers such as “Sasaeng fan” and “V Live” that aren’t as straightforward. To help you out, we’ve compiled a glossary of K-pop terms so you can easily decode the genre’s jargon.

Seeing how BTS and Blackpink are two of the biggest K-pop bands in the world right now, we’ve also used them to illustrate some examples.

Here’s a glossary of some commonly used K-pop terms:


Korean popular music, or “K-pop”, is the genre of music originating from South Korea. Originally sung in Korean — but now often in English — K-pop songs may have musical elements from hip hop, electronic dance, jazz or rock.

It is mostly performed by boy bands and girl groups. Key components include tight choreography, high production values and original concepts.

Popular girl group Blackpink is one of the biggest names in K-pop right now.


Also shortened as “anti”, it refers to someone who hates a particular celebrity so much that they devote their time to mocking and criticising that artist.


A “bias” simply means you have a favourite member in a K-pop group. Spinoffs of this term include “ultimate bias”, where you like a specific artist the most not just within his/her band but out of all K-pop groups in general, and “bias wrecker” — which refers to other K-pop artists who influence a switch in your preference.


A K-pop “comeback” means a group releasing new music or an album — with no long passage of time required. Often a multi-step process, a comeback is teased out for weeks with images, videos, and in some cases, even pre-album singles. Blackpink are currently ramping up for their comeback in August. The last time they released music was back in October 2020 with their first full-length album ‘The Album’.

Fan chant

These are words shouted by fans during performances. A chant usually includes naming all the members of a group during the intro and then repeating specific words or lines throughout a song.

The chants are often tailored to specific songs. Here’s an example of a fan chant tutorial (yes, these exist in abundance on Youtube) for BTS’ ‘Boy With Luv’.


A gesture of forming a small heart shape with thumb and index fingers. It is frequently used by K-pop artists to express their fondness towards their fans. When BTS visited US President Joe Biden at the White House in June, he gamely displayed fingerhearts with them.

k-pop glossary of common terms
This looks photoshopped but it’s not. During BTS’ visit to the White House in June 2022, they showed fingerhearts with US president Joe Biden. (Image: BTS/ Twitter)


An “idol” is a K-pop star, who has been trained before “debuting” — releasing their first music — through an entertainment agency. Idols can be solo artists or members of a group.


Most K-pop bands have a designated “leader” who is responsible for guiding and overseeing the group. The person usually starts any public introductions off and will be the first to speak at events. In BTS, rapper RM plays this role. Some other groups such as Blackpink may opt to not have an official leader.


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A post shared by BTS official (@bts.bighitofficial)


Don’t dismiss them as mere glow sticks. K-pop lightsticks have evolved to become symbols of the fans’ devotion to their artists.

They are custom-made for many groups, and fans show their unity by waving them at concerts. Check out Blackpink’s official lightstick in the video below.

Sasaeng fan

The super-obsessed fan who goes over the top for the attention of their favourite K-pop artist. In Korean, “sa” means private and “saeng” means life, referring to the fans’ intrusion into the stars’ private lives.

In some cases, this may amount to borderline criminal acts, such as breaking into their homes, stealing their personal items or information, and sending inappropriate gifts such as lingerie. The members of BTS and Blackpink have encountered their share of Sasaeng fans, who have harassed them by stalking them, calling them on their personal phone numbers, and even filming them without their consent.

In 2019, Blackpink was greeted by hordes of Sasaeng fans when they landed at Manila Airport in the Philippines for their concert tour. These fans caused a stampede, climbing atop police cars and blocking roads in a bid to catch glimpses of the band. Needless to say, the Blackpink members were unhappy.


“Stan” refers to a passionate K-pop fan. The term can be used both as a verb and noun, e.g “I stan BTS” and “I am a K-pop stan”. It’s more commonly used as a verb though, as supporters of certain K-pop groups tend to already have fandom names. BTS fans for example are called “BTS ARMY”, while Blackpink followers are known as “Blinks”.

V Live

If you want to keep up with your favourite K-pop star, “V Live” is a must. It’s a livestream platform used by most K-pop idols to connect with their fans.

Some upload behind-the-scenes footage, while others use it to livestream after shows. Both BTS and Blackpink have V-Live channels.

(Main and featured image: BTS/ Twitter)

This story was published via AFP Relaxnews

written by.

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A Glossary Of The Most Commonly Used K-Pop Terms
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