Piggybacking off last week’s post on being solo in Korea, today’s word is mo-ssol, a Korean slang word often translated into English as “single since birth.” It refers to someone who is so single, and so apparently unable to change that, that it seems like they were just born destined to be that way.
Mo-ssol is an example of acronym slang, like mil-tang and ch’imaek. It comes from the phrase motae ssollo (모태 쏠로). Motae, from Chinese characters 母胎, means “mother’s womb,” and ssollo is another form of sollo, or solo. Thus… single from the womb. It can also be (and possibly is more commonly) spelled mo-sol (모솔).
Mo-ssol is also an incredibly new slang word. I mean most “new” slang words I write about here are at least 10 or so years old. I can’t tell when this one was first spoken, of course, but it first appeared in a mainstream newspaper in 2012 (BIGKINDS).
Mo-ssol apparently arose on the internet (나무위키) and there are plenty of memes and listicles out there about the concept.
Who is a mo-ssol?
The stereotypical mo-ssol is male, as the memes above suggest, but not necessarily ugly or a “loser.” Or at least… I guess a lot of mo-ssol might not think of themselves as being unattractive. There’s a lot of social anxiety (in my experience/observation) around particularly single men in Korea, and a pretty big “men’s rights” movement online. I suspect this is one reason why mo-ssol are fairly frequently portrayed as heroes in memes, like the first one above.
I definitely do not have time to go into the reasons for all this male anger right now because I am Insanely Busy both at work and preparing for our upcoming trip to Korea, but very broadly I think it involves the heightened social status, earning power, an independence of women over the last several decades; a feeling of entitlement or of having been cheated on the part of many men, complicated by the fact that they have to do army service; and the gender imbalance resulting from the selective abortion of female fetuses over the last several decades (even though abortion is illegal in Korea). So what I’m saying is, you can probably find a lot of mo-ssol hanging out on Ilbe, which is like the 4chan/worst parts of Reddit of Korea.
It’s okay to be mo-ssol!
Let me end this by saying there are definitely people who are single by choice. That is a totally awesome decision. Unfortunately, it’s not a choice that’s really portrayed favorably (if at all) in Korean popular culture, which is why it’s not really reflected in my explanation of some of these words!
“모태솔로.” 나무위키. 2016년12월20일. 인터넷. 2016년12월21일.