When I first came to Korea, I noticed that a bunch of my Korean and (Korean ex-pat) friends would always put^^ at the ends of their texts/facebook status updates. I could not figure out what the hell^^ meant--was it some sort of strange new punctuation that people had started adopting in Korea? Was^^ their exclamation point, or question mark, or period? Was is some kind of secret Korean code, something that I would have to be initiated to--perhaps the bizarre trademark of a Super Secret Korean Society?
After nearly a month of confusion, I finally asked my co-worker Krystafre, who told me that people in East Asia use an entirely different set of emoticons than the ones we use in the West. WHO'D A THUNK, right?
Our emoticons at home are usually turned on their side:
:) = happy
:( = sad
;) = sassy wink
:X = whoops, sealed lips, embarrassment
:-/ = skeptical
:-o = shocked
But here, emoticons face upright, and are generally focused on eyes:
^^ = happy eyes
>_< = frustrated
^3^ = kiss
(T_T) = crying
0?0 = what!?
:__: = dissapointment
*_* = love
@.@ = surprise
^_^ = content
and on and on and on. There are sooooo many emoticons here--way more than in the U.S.! My cell phone has over three dozen pre-saved as symbols.
There are also a lot of Korea-specific emoticons which use Korean Hangul characters:
ㅇㅅㅇ = shock
ㅠㅠ = sad
ㅎ_ㅎ = indifference
ㅋ ㅋㅋ is used for laughter--"kee kee kee" is the Korean version of "hee hee hee".
Related: these ads have been all over the subway recently...for a plastic surgery clinic. They offer "before" and "after" emoticons for various body parts (breasts, stomach, face, and eyes, if you look closely). GAG
Anyways, now you'll know I'm not making weird typos whenever you see TT in my posts here^^