” I’m confused again today, your texts bother me
But when we meet, you’re so bright
It doesn’t work out again today, you act like we’re gonna meet up soon
But when I try to make plans, you say, oppa see you later”
Some may notice that these are the lyrics to K-Pop singer Eddy Kim’s ‘Push&Pull’, better known as 밀당의 고수 (Mildang-eui go-su). In the world of dating, there is a phenomenon you may have experienced where a guy or girl that you’re interested in sends you messages every day, and then all of sudden they stop messaging entirely. To this we say; welcome to the joys of dating. In Korea, there is a colloquial phrase which perfectly describes this situation – 밀당 Mildang. You may have heard of his phrase before from popular Korean tv shows, K-Dramas or even web-dramas.
Literally, Mildang is an abbreviation of ‘밀고 당기기(Mil-go dang-ki-ki)’, meaning push and pull. Each letter comes from the first letter of ‘밀다(Mil-da)’, ‘to push’ and ‘당기다(Dang-ki-da)’, ‘to pull’. It is still controversial amongst Korean people as to whether ‘Mildang’ is a necessary part of successful relationships, and whether someone is even aware that they’re doing it.
Related phrases and colloqualisms:
1) 읽씹(Ilgssip) and 안읽씹(Anilgssip); ‘읽씹’ means ‘읽고 씹다’, or literally ‘Read and do not reply’. On Kakaotalk, an SNS app that most Koreans use, you can see a number next to your text which indicates how many people have not read your message. When the number ‘1’ disappears, that means the person that you’re talking to has read your message. If you haven’t received a reply from him or her – well, he or she may be busy with something and may have forgotten to reply, or perhaps they haven’t replied to you on purpose a.k.a ‘읽씹.
On the other hand, ‘안읽씹’ means ‘안 읽고 씹다’, or literally ‘Do not read and do not reply’. The dreaded eternal ‘1’. They never even read your message. Which sounds worse? 읽씹 or 안읽씹?
2) ‘어장관리(Eojanggwanli)’ is another word which may suit a person who is an expert of ‘밀당’. ‘어장’, literally means a ‘fishing ground’ and ‘관리’, literally means ‘management’. ‘어장관리’ means having relationships with more than one fish at a time, resulting in a lot of confused and heartbroken fish. Once you notice that you’ve fallen into his/her ‘어장’ becoming a ‘fish’, you’d better swim off.
3) 병주고 약주기(Byeong-ju-go yak-ju-ki); This is a traditional Korean phrase that translates as ‘Gifting an illness and then giving them medicine’. ‘Mildang’ can be a modern way of saying ‘병주고 약주기’. To push, you must turn a blind eye which burns like fire, and to pull, you sooth with water, with gifts and with love.