You’ve probably heard at least once the word ‘Kkondae’ on campus, at work, or even just around in your daily life. It seems that everyone uses this word. I heard the word from my friend, and then I told it to my friend. One day I wondered why this word was used so often. So, I began to wonder why we use the word Kkondae so much.
Before we think about it, let’s find out the meaning and etymology of Kkondae. According to the National Institute of Korean Language’s Standard Korean Dictionary, Kkondae is a slang word for old people and teachers. Nowadays, however, it refers to a person who uses his age or status to impose his or her power on others. For example, when you are talking to juniors, and you want to tell juniors about your experiences, you may say, “When I was your age.” In this case, the junior will think you are a Kkondae. In addition to this, saying "How dare you talk back to an adult?” and “It’s all for you” can also be the reason others feel that you are a Kkondae.
What is the origin of this word? Here are two arguments. First, it is alleged that it originated from Kkondegi, from a dialect of Gyeongsang province meaning pupas. Then it was transformed into Kkondae, which means ‘a man with wrinkles like pupas on his or her forehead.’ Second, it is alleged to be originated from the French word ‘comte,’ which means count, similar to ‘lord.’ During the Japanese colonial rule, pro-Japanese group members call themselves Kkondae, which would be the Japanese pronunciation of the French ‘comte.’ Many people used this word to ridicule pro-Japanese groups. Since then the meaning of the word has changed into what it is today.
Now, letʼs think about the reason we use the word Kkondae so often. I thought about it in two ways: the social atmosphere and the absence of alternative words. First, when you watch TV, you can see celebrities talking about the word Kkondae on entertainment shows and other TV shows. Young people, especially students in middle and high school, are heavily influenced by celebrities. Then celebrities often use this word as a joke. Therefore, young students also use this word just as a joke. Second, it seems to be used frequently because there is no other word to replace the peculiar sentiment that the word Kkondae has. There is a nagging person in the synonym of Kkondae, but I think that word cannot be substituted for this word because the word nagging person has a different meaning from Kkondae. It’s these two reasons that perpetuates the use of this word.
Understandably, though, we should refrain from using the word Kkondae because it was originally used to disparage others and anyone who is called a Kkondae can be upset or feel bad as a result. Also, using the word frequently – only because it is often used when people are not willing to take advice – shows a society that has closed-minded thinking. In order to refrain from using derogatory or demeaning words, you must remember the negative meaning of this word and be careful not to force your beliefs on others.