I'm watching an Asian movie that has a couple of English dialogues, and there are two guys who (in the movie plot) are Korean but live in Hong Kong. A man, supposedly a boss, wants to give them the task to retrieve a truck containing 20 million dollars located somewhere in Korea.

When the "boss" gets to meet the two Korean guys he says the following sentence:

I don't know what the hell it is with you people from the peninsula, you, uh... have an air about you.

Not much context around this more than what I stated.

Does that mean "to put on airs"? I tried googling for it but I'm out of luck.

  • See english.stackexchange.com/questions/487077/… , but also consider that the usage may have been sarcastic, meaning "odor".
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 31, 2020 at 20:11
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    A Chinese friend told me that his people considered Koreans upscale (classy, not arrogant). As a criticism, if you have an air about you, you're a snob. If that air is false, you are putting on airs, pretending to be something you are not. Jul 31, 2020 at 21:25
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    "air" can simply mean "outward appearance" so it could just mean they look like people from Hong Kong. (No idea what that looks like.) merriam-webster.com/dictionary/air
    – Stuart F
    Apr 28, 2021 at 9:39

1 Answer 1


I am not sure what the context is meant to be in the film. In the US, having an air about one’s self is synonymous to having an aura or quality of an exceptional nature. This aura or quality can be either good or bad depending on the context or other qualifying statements. Just as long as the quality emanating from the person is pervasive enough to be immediately noticeable. Though this same air or aura can be cast in a negative light if followed by a negative qualifying statement.

If one carries themselves in good moral character, or is of exceptionally charismatic, they can be said to have an air about them. A mortuary or mausoleum can have an air of death.

In contrast, “putting on airs” is almost always negative. It’s connotation is one of faking an air, aura, or quality of exceptional superiority when one is not deserved.

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