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November 11, 2014

KDrama Word of the Day: Choltae (Never)

Large red X in a flamboyant font to signify the spirit of choltaeCholtae or cholttae (절대) is a Kdrama word that we have all heard many times, most frequently from parents forbidding a love match, or from relentless girl/boyfriends refusing to accept a break up. The Korean online dictionary Naver expresses what we have all deduced from the context, that it means “absolutely, completely never!”

As absolute a never as 절대 choltae is, it is often combined with other negatives, such as 아니야 (aniya), which is the present tense informal of the verb 아니다 (anida – to not be). 아니다 has a meaning very similar to 없다. Or to put it all together, “That absolutely, completely NEVER CAN BE!!!!

KDrama fans know that 절대 choltae is like a gargantuan billboard, with megaphones, shouting “The central conflict of this drama is HERE,” but characters never seem to catch on that being so emphatic just begs for a big old swat from fate to show them how absolutely, completely wrong they are. I guess Koreans don’t have an equivalent to the English phrase, “never say never!”

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