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Due to the internet and with the help of social media, a lot of general western emoticons are commonly used, for example :), :(, ;) and so on. This section will focus on emoticons that either originated in Korea (or Asia) or that require Korean characters to make. A lot of Korean emoticons are vertical in nature, instead of horizontal like

Face construction

  • Eyes. There are many characters that can be used as eyes, but here are a few common examples:
    • ^^ - Happy eyes
    • ㅡㅡ, -- - shut eyes
    • ㅇㅇ, OO - open eyes
    • >< - squinting (frustrated) eyes
  • Nose. Noses aren't commonly added, but here are a few examples:
    • ㅅ (animal like nose, think of a dog or cat)
  • Mouth. There are many characters that can be used as eyes, but here are a few common examples:
    • _ closed mouth
    • .
    • 0 - big open mouth


Emoticon(s) Meaning Variations
*_____* A stale face; used to express disappointment, boredom, or to indicate something was lame or unfunny.
^^ Happy face (cheerful eyes).
  • ^_^
  • ^.^
  • ^0^ - ?
  • ^ㅁ^ - ?
  • ^ㅂ^ - ?
  • *^^* - blushing
^_~ A winking face. The typical ;) is also used and is more common.
ㅡ_ㅡ Speechless or not amused Used when someone says something stupid, offensive, or annoying. Sometimes it's like saying "are you serious?" -_-
ㅜㅜ / ㅠㅠ Tears Some people just put one character instead of two:

Multiple tears means more sadness:

  • ㅜㅜㅜㅜㅜ
  • ㅠㅠㅠㅠ
 ; The semicolon is supposed to represent sweat and used to indicate embarrassment, awkwardness or disappointment.
  • ^^;;, 말도 안 되는 소리 하지 마;;; (Don't talk non-sense)
  • ^^;

The more semicolons, the more the person feels embarrassed.

  • ^^;;;;
@[email protected] Confusion
•ㅅ• ㅅ is supposed to be like an animal nose (think dog or cat) and makes it more cute. Meaning: ?
  • ㅇㅅㅇ
  • ㅎㅅㅎ
~.~ I'm not sure (모르겠음)
?,? Huh? What the .. ? (오잉?)
!_! Ah-ha! (아하!)
+_+  ?
-ㅅ-a Scratching one's head.
'ㅅ'b Thumbs up, where b is the hand.
The middle finger, flipping someone off.
  • 'ㅅ'ㅗ

The more ㅗ you see, the angry the person is:

  • ㅗㅗㅗㅗㅗ
OTL Shape of a person fallen on the floor in representation of a failure or mistake. Another variation is orz

i.e., "I forgot my homework OTL" (O - head, T - torso and arms, L - legs)

요TL is someone in a similar position as someone throwing up
▶◀ Used for when someone died (represents black ribbon used in funeral).
ㅋ.ㅋ  ?
ㅎ.ㅎ  ?
ㅃ.ㅃ  ?