Everybody Bubi!

( Source: KBites )

While “Bubi Bubi” (부비부비) doesn’t quite mean what it sounds like in English, these will still probably be the most surreal advertisements you’ll see in your entire life:

Featuring girl-group T-ara (티아라), whom I talked about recently here, and actor Yoon Shi-yoon (윤시윤), 2 of the advertisements at least seem to show that bubibubihada (부비부비하다) means to touch, or rub 2 things against each other. Curiously however, that’s proving quite difficult to confirm, as even though it appears to be rather old, with references here and here in The Marmot’s Hole going back to early-2008, and a query at Naver on the meaning from late-2006, there’s still no mention of the term in print or online dictionaries.

From a reading of the former though, and K-pop blogs today, “grind” appears to be a much better translation, and indeed there’s even a 2008(?) Banana Girl (바나나걸) song called Bubi Bubi on that theme:

But then “Grind Grind” is a rather crude and unlikely name for a phone, and especially for one that KTF itself claims is aimed at teenagers. Hence the most likely explanation is that KTF is exploiting a double-entendre, and which Korean advertisers as a whole have a surprising proclivity for, especially sexual ones. But it would be appreciated if anyone more familiar with the term could confirm that; alas, married in 2004, and with two children after that, then it’s been a while since I’ve done any grinding in Korean nightclubs myself, and am unlikely to begin again soon!


21 thoughts on “Everybody Bubi!

  1. There are nightclubs in Daejeon and Seoul called “Bubi Bubi.” I too have always been told it means “grinding.”


  2. I am interested in this Bubi. Do you know where one may purchase some Bubis in Korea? I mean, I’ve seen some Bubis in the states, and now, thanks to the internet, I’ve seen Korean Bubis as well. From those, I’ve decided I rather like Bubis and would like to acquire some for myself. Do you know how one would go about it? ;)



  3. Unrelated to this post, but I figured I’d post here: I don’t know if you’ve heard of/seen the Cass Beer music drama CF with Yoon Eun Hye and Nichkhun and Taecyeon from 2PM, but they just released some posters from these particular promotions, and Taecyeon is doing the head-tilt!!! You could say that it fits the drama because (spoiler alert) Yoon Eun Hye is at the center of the story while the others are secondary characters, but you wouldn’t think they’d extend that to the print advertisements. That being said, I haven’t studied Cass beer advertisements so I’ll save that thought for when I do (which is whenever I have time… which is never)

    Anyway, here’s a link to the photos on allkpop: http://www.allkpop.com/2010/03/new-posters-for-cass-with-2pms-nichkhun-taecyeon-and-yoon-eun-hye

    ooh, and this is Multi/Mellowyel, btw – I saw the comment you made in response to EccentricYoruba on another post. I really like your blog!! Thanks for reading mine!!


    1. Thanks for commenting Mellowyel, and no need at all for the introduction: seriously, I even have some of your posts printed out and sitting next to me as I type this, part of my research for some future posts, and then hopefully a conference in Helsinki. If you’d like a hint as to what about though, let’s just say that that Discovery Channel video on 2ne1 was quite an eye-opener for me…!

      I had seen some of the Cass ads actually, but thanks for passing them on, and you may like this take on them by Cory, who’s also a fan. And I hadn’t seen the recent posters, and with the head-tilt and all, probably give you some idea of how difficult it has been for me to write Part 2 of the Gender Advertisements in the Korean Context series, so feminine are young Korean men usually presented in them; not to say that they are feminine of course, but I’m sure you know what I mean. Curse you Melissa!


      1. wow – i’m glad I could be of help, then!

        yeah, I find Korean advertising very interesting in terms of the specific marketing strategies they use, but for different reasons than Cory’s. I can’t go into detail right now, but I mentioned them in my first post about k-pop and I might expand on them later.

        I wish I had more examples for your research though: There’s a 2PM picture where each of them is covering an eye in some way, but I can’t find it… and i think on Beast’s first album cover, they had some of them covering their mouths… it may not be exactly what you were looking for, but it is a trend I’ve seen more than once (specifically the Beast example…) However, I suggest you check out this blog: http://kpop-love.tumblr.com/ as a possible source of images. not all of them are ads, but some are photoshoots and group merchandise so they may still be helpful for your research.


  4. I asked my 교수님 about this word today, she didn’t understand why I thought it was so funny. Eventually I had to explain to a 70 year old Korean woman what “bubi” sounds like and it’s english meaning. That prompetd her to start asking me if I knew any other Korean sex terminology. By far one of the most akward moments I’ve had in my language class. Thank you for that lol.


  5. oh right lol. I mentioned “Pounding rice cakes” and body parts and she stated talking about “어느 정도까지 하는 여자들”, it was around that time the whole class started cracking up laughing and she got embaressed and went back to teaching. not exactly the kind of conversation I wanted to, or ever want to again, have with a woman who can best be described as 할머니


  6. so, 부비다 means to rub things against each other. It’s a cute form of 비비다. 부비부비 is not an expression you would see in the dictionary as it is slang. 부비부비 is confined to describing grinding at clubs. But considering the tameness of club grinding in Korea, and the cute connotation of the word, I guess you could consider 부비부비 as a euphemism/cutesy translation of grinding. I mean it really does not sound or carry a connotation as crude as grinding sort of does.

    I did think it was funny that bubibubi probably sounds hillarious to English speakers not acquainted with the expression. Not only does it sound like it has something to do with breasts, the word just sounds pretty ridiculous.

    When I saw that commercial on TV I felt like bubibubiing my head on a cheese grater. Okay, exaggeration, but am I the only one who thinks that ad is really painful to watch?? I really cannot stand watching adults acting like 10 year olds all over the media. Even in Korean, 부비부비 sounds funny. To name a phone 부비부비 and have 20-something year olds act ridiculously ridiculous is….well, just bad. KTF is definitely using double entendre, as 부비부비 is confined to describing grinding activity at clubs. The bubibubi you see on the ad is “부비다” (rubbing the phone against your cheek etc) and then a 10 year old version of men and women 부비부비ing, but undeniable employment of ambiguity.


    1. Thanks: I couldn’t have asked for a more comprehensive explanation!

      Just between you and me though, am a bit embarrassed about completely forgetting 비비다; just goes to show how little Korean study I’ve been doing since becoming unemployed…


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