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Umchina (pronunciated like 'um-chin-a') is a Korean word, an abbreviated form of โ€˜momโ€™s friendโ€™s son.โ€™(Hangul: ์—„๋งˆ ์นœ๊ตฌ ์•„๋“ค) Not a term directly indicating a specific person, but signifies a person who is perfect in everything; abilities, appearances and backgrounds. Usually spoken by a mother to push her son to do better by comparing to an obscurely perfect character referred to as โ€˜umchina.โ€™

Concept of Umchina[edit]

Development of โ€˜Umchinaโ€™[edit]

File:๊ณจ๋ฐฉํ™˜์ƒ๊ณก 8.์šฐ์›”ํ•œ ์ž.png
Naver Webtoon, Golbanghwansanggok

Even before the term โ€˜Umchinaโ€™ was developed, the concept had long been dominating the Korean society, only without a specific term. If there was โ€˜wangdda,โ€™ which was an outcast concept, an umchina is someone that could be depicted as an opposite. From the early 2000s, peculiar Korean internet culture had developed and one of the hot trend was using abbreviated form of words. Hunnam, Chadonyeo are each abbreviated form of โ€™a charming guy (Hangul: ํ›ˆํ›ˆํ•œ ๋‚จ์ž)โ€™ and โ€˜icy chic lady (Hangul: ์ฐจ๊ฐ€์šด ๋„์‹œ ์—ฌ์ž).โ€™

The term โ€˜Umchinaโ€™ itself was first used in the webtoon โ€˜Golbanghwansanggok (๊ณจ๋ฐฉํ™˜์ƒ๊ณก),โ€™ a comic strip published serially in 2008 on Naver.[1] It successively treated current social issues in an easier way and made a big sympathy among readers. That was when people started using โ€˜umchinaโ€™ as an abbreviated form of โ€˜motherโ€™s friendโ€™s son.โ€™

Concepts and Characteristics of Umchina[edit]

Umchina does not directly indicate a specific person. But they are those who are good to be compared; similar in age or conditions. Umchina is usually used when a mother tries to push her son to better perform in school by comparing with someone she knows, specifically her friendโ€™s son. According to what mom has heard, seen, or maybe just made up, they are tall, have a perfectly fit body, and a charming aura. They only sleep 4 hours a day, never watch TV, and are so bright that never miss Aโ€™s in school, let alone attending only the prestigious schools. If he is working, he is at least earning 10 times more than you and very popular of his abilities and appearance. And he even comes from a prestigious, wealthy family.[2] As we can see, the characteristics of Umchina written above, is rather unrealistic. Each of the features separately are quite natural, but all those features in a single soul is very unrealistic. That is, the exact concept of Umchina. It is a created โ€˜someoneโ€™ who has combined strengths of several people. The writer of the comic, who created the term, Park Jongwon was once asked if there was a specific model of his โ€˜umchinaโ€™ concept in an interview. But he simply answered that it was a combined character he made up which had several of his friendsโ€™ good features.[3] Of course in our society there are people who are close to the concepts of umchina. But the normal usage of this concept is a vague, obscure character who is just perfect, only to compare.

Umchina Syndrome[edit]

The Umchina Syndrome is a phenomenon found in many Asian culture, as a way to promote improvement by mother to their children. The distinctive feature of Koreansโ€™ trying to confirm self-identity not from the inside but from comparison within the group, has created the perfect form of โ€˜umchina.โ€™ As the society became more intense, people, without exception competed to achieve better careers. This excessive competition along with the elitism and groupism, created a figure that everyone wanted to become, an idealistic one. Although this figure is idealistic and at the same time unrealistic, people tend to stress out from comparing themselves from this idealistic figure. According to a survey conducted by Chuiupportal Career, 45.7% of the jobseekers feel severe inferiority comparing with an umchina figure while only 35.4% answered that they get more eager to develop themselves.[4] Also, a Korean TV show โ€˜Guegusialgosipda(Hanul: ๊ทธ๊ฒƒ์ด ์•Œ๊ณ ์‹ถ๋‹ค)โ€™ pointed out the harmful effects of Korean educationsโ€™ driving students to excessive rivalry competition. And should emphasize the importance of โ€˜cooperationโ€™ so that these fearful rival umchinas turn into productive colleagues.[5]

Umchina Figures Among Celebrities[edit]

1. Yoon, Taeyoung (Actor): Studied Business Administration at Illinois Wesleyan University. Now a successful actor starring in The Legend (2007), Mr. Socrates(2005). His father was former vice president of Samsung Electronics.

2. Lee, Philip (Actor): All of his family are alumni of George Washington University. He himself is a successful actor starring in The Legend (2007), Secret Garden(2010). His father is the owner of STG, a global IT company.

3. Choi, Siwon (Singer): Member of one of the leading idol groups in Korea, Super Junior. Now widening his field to acting. His father, Choi Kiho, is the president of Boryung Mediance.

4. Kang, Dongwon (Actor): Majored mechanical engineering in Hanyang University. His father is a vice president of SPP, one of the leading groups in shipbuilding industry.

5. Lee, Seunggi (Actor, Singer, Host): Studied International Trade and Commerce in Dongguk University, continuing Trade Theory as well as Finance and Cultural Contents at Dongguk Graduate School. His father (and mother) worked in bank. [6][7]


  1. โ†‘ "๋„ค์ด๋ฒ„ ์›นํˆฐ '๊ณจ๋ฐฉํ™˜์ƒ๊ณก'". ๋ฐ•์ข…์› ์ž‘๊ฐ€. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  2. โ†‘ "์—„์นœ์•„์˜ ํŠน์ง•". 2008.7.4. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  3. โ†‘ "[์›นํˆฐ์ž‘๊ฐ€ ๋ฆด๋ ˆ์ด ์ธํ„ฐ๋ทฐ]<20>'๊ณจ๋ฐฉํ™˜์ƒ๊ณก' ์›Œ๋‹ˆ ๋ฐ•์ข…์›". ๋™์•„๋‰ด์Šค. 2010-04-27. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  4. โ†‘ "2008๋…„ 9์›” 3์ผ๋ถ€ํ„ฐ 9์ผ๊นŒ์ง€ 20~30๋Œ€ ์„ฑ์ธ๋‚จ๋…€ 1,010๋ช…์„ ๋Œ€์ƒ์œผ๋กœ ์„ค๋ฌธ์กฐ์‚ฌ(๋„ํ‘œ ๋ฐ ์ž๋ฃŒ)". Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  5. โ†‘ "๊ทธ๊ฒƒ์ด ์•Œ๊ณ ์‹ถ๋‹ค - ์—„์นœ์•„ ํ˜„์ƒ". Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  6. โ†‘ "์—ฐ์˜ˆ๊ณ„ ์—„์นœ์•„ ์„œ์—ด "๋ฐ•ํ˜•์‹, ํ™์œ ๊ฒฝ, ๊ฐ•๋™์›, ์ตœ์‹œ์› 'ํ™”๋ คํ•œ ์ŠคํŽ™'"". ์Šคํฌ์ธ ๋™์•„. 2012-07-27. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  7. โ†‘ "์—ฐ์˜ˆ๊ธฐ์ž๋“ค์ด ๋ฝ‘์€ '์ตœ๊ณ ์˜ ์—„์นœ์•„' 1์œ„ ๊ฐ•๋™์›, 2์œ„ ๊น€์ •ํ›ˆ". ๋„ค์ดํŠธ ์—ฐ์˜ˆ๋‰ด์Šค. 2009-01-10. Retrieved 26 November 2012.

[1] [2] [3]

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