What’s “BABO”? A very popular Korean word! (KWOW #45)

Professor Oh April 17, 2012 27

BABO (바보) has multiple definitions. Depending on your intention, the term can be neutral or offensive. In neutral tones, babo can mean “fool” and “blockhead.” Offensive versions of babo include “stupid.” Babo can also refer to a mentally handicapped person. You’ll hear various versions of babo in K-pop songs and Korean dramas.

Remember: babo is not a bad word, unless you intend it to be. Use the word playfully and gently with family and friends, but never call an elder a babo!

There’s an endearing movie called “Babo,” starring Cha Tae-Hyun (from the classic Korean romantic comedy “My Sassy Girl”). While the literal translation of the film title is “Fool,” its official English title is “Miracle of a Giving Fool.”

Here’s a brief summary: The main character Seung-ryong suffered from an accident in his childhood leaving him to be a babo, a mentally handicapped person. Now 27 years old, he sells his famous toasts while keeping an eye out for two people: his younger sister and the return of his childhood love Ji-ho.

You can watch the full movie with English subtitles on Youtube. Let’s begin with part one:

Watch rest of the parts here: part 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11.

While watching “Babo,” did some words sound familiar? That’s probably because you’ve been an attentive student! You’ll hear words taught in KWOW episodes 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 16, 23, 31, 33, 37, and more.

By the way, did you notice the young Ji-ho is played by Sulli from f(x)?

Time for our KWOW word search exercises!

When does the *fourth* BABO appear in 2AM’s performance of “Like a Fool” (바보처럼)? (The song is a soundtrack from the Korean drama “Personal Taste,” starring Lee Min Ho.)

Did you find it? The fourth BABO is sung at 1:07.

The next one is for you Big Bang fans out there! How many BABOs appear in their “A Fool of Tears” song?

BABO appears once at 2:22 :)


How many BABOs are in Epik High’s “Babo” song? The echos count, too!

Write ONE answer in the comment section below, along with a question you’d like to ask Granny Kim. First THREE people to get the answer correct wins a reply from our hip-hoppin granny!


  1. udonmaine March 25, 2013 at 5:53 am - Reply

    why babo is read as Pa Bo not Ba Bo??

  2. asluu March 12, 2013 at 4:25 am - Reply

    babo or babo choreum which means like a fool is in too many Korean songs actually! there’s Juniel’s Babo and then half of CN Blue’s songs have the word along with Ailee’s Boyo Julkhe, and yes, SNSD’s Gee

  3. Miharu June 9, 2012 at 3:28 am - Reply

    U forgot gee when Jessica says that she’s a Pabo

  4. kawaii June 4, 2012 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    babo was also in snsd’s gee :D

  5. happybubbletea May 23, 2012 at 12:06 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on happybubbletea.

  6. Shady April 20, 2012 at 5:13 am - Reply

    ‘babo’ also came up in Gee-SNSD :O

  7. Aoi April 20, 2012 at 2:17 am - Reply

    I think it is 32 times….
    This song is very good.
    I can’t help but to listen to it again and again. :)

  8. ColdashELF April 18, 2012 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    I know there’s already been three people but…
    32 바보 ^_^
    Due to the past “issues” between Korea and Japan, there is a tension between some Japanese and Korean people. How does Granny Kim feel about this?

    • sweetandtastytv April 20, 2012 at 9:51 am - Reply

      Hello ColdashELF!
      You are the fifth person to get the correct answer, but I shall reply nonetheless :) Just like with everything else in life, we should learn from the past and look forward to a bright future. Our energies should be used towards improvement, not on negativity. ♥

      Granny Kim

  9. Peach April 18, 2012 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    definitely 32 babo’s!! Question: what is Granny Kims favorite fruit?

    • sweetandtastytv April 20, 2012 at 9:43 am - Reply

      Hello Peach!
      Although you’re the fourth person to get the correct answer, I’ll still reply to you :) What’s my favorite fruit? I like bananas, especially the super ripened ones with brown dots. They help me go to the restroom (very good for constipation). Good job on finding the 32 babo’s!

      Granny Kim

      • Peach May 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm - Reply

        You’re the Best Granny Kim :D haha, thanks for answering my question! Excellent Job hosting last KWOW by the way! No Grandma has as much swag as you do.

  10. Michelle April 18, 2012 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    I think about 30 something… and isn’t there a babo in girls’ generation’s “gee”?

  11. Bellamisty April 18, 2012 at 8:45 am - Reply

    If he doesn’t say Babo, what does Daesung say at about 2:23? Just curious, now that I’ve heard it, I can’t un-hear it. XD

    • Bellamisty April 18, 2012 at 8:54 am - Reply

      Err…in the BigBang song.

  12. Jasmin April 18, 2012 at 3:53 am - Reply

    hmm…36 times?? Q: What is granny kims favourite nail polish color? :)

  13. Ryan (64 packets) April 18, 2012 at 1:26 am - Reply

    32 times

    • Ryan (64 packets) April 18, 2012 at 1:28 am - Reply

      What is granny kims favourite kpop song?

      • sweetandtastytv April 20, 2012 at 9:41 am - Reply

        Hello Ryan!
        You got it! There were 32 babo’s. If I remember correctly, my favorite K-pop song is PSY’s “Champion.” You can check out a recent performance here: http://youtu.be/v_JtRuhubsc

        To avoid any misunderstanding, “neega” means “you.” The term has nothing to do with racial names!

        Granny Kim :)

        • Ryan (64 Packets) April 20, 2012 at 10:32 am - Reply

          granny kim is too nice to be racist!

  14. 오이 April 17, 2012 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Ehhhh 32? Lol, I heard a 몰라. Does that count for anything!? :) Q:Who is your favorite kpop group?

    • sweetandtastytv April 20, 2012 at 9:18 am - Reply

      Hello 오이!
      You got it! There were 32 babo’s. It’s hard to say who my favorite K-pop group is… There are so many bands these days. What I do know is, I will forever love 1TYM. I like this song: http://youtu.be/gh2B1RtJbXg

      Granny Kim

  15. Celina April 17, 2012 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    This is one of the first Korean words I ever learned thanks to Secret Garden:

    From Baek Ji Young’s (백지영) – “That Woman” (그여자)

    “또 하나같은 바보 또 하나같은 바보 한번 나를 안아주고 가면 안되요”

  16. Tiarni Johnston April 17, 2012 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    32?? I think, but if it is
    Granny Kim, How did you and Bongja meet?

    • sweetandtastytv April 20, 2012 at 9:13 am - Reply

      Hello Tiarni! 32 is the correct answer. Bongja and I were friends long before the Korean War, back in the 1940s. We met in elementary school and played together after class. We truly are BFFs! Best friends forever! Keep up the hard work! Sincerely, Granny Kim :)

  17. babo! April 17, 2012 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    i’ll roll down the hill for you professor oh! just like in the beginning of babo :P

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