Emoticons are an important part of text messages and emails in Korea. People use them to soften their words, express emotion, and generally find polite and indirect ways of asking/saying something respectfully. We’ve covered some of the Korea ones-see examples below. These can be written using Korean or English letters.

Korean emoticons
TT – eyes crying (describing a sad situation)
^^ – eyes up (making something seem light or expressing happiness-useful for asking someone to do something for you)-similar to 🙂
OTL-from the left side, the O is a head touching the floor, T is the body with hands to the floor, and L is the legs kneeling. Means you are banging your head on the ground when you feel frustrated or disappointed.
hh or hhh – Soft laugh (joking together with someone but not directed at either person)
Kk or kkk – When you make a joke at someone’s expense (about them) (k is supposed to be the sound of laughter)

For many Western adults, emoticons are considered childish or too cute, and except for the smile/frown/sly faces, they’re infrequently used. Check out this link. It’s supposed to be humorous, but I can honestly see a use for some of these in Western emails and messages.^^

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