SEOUL, Oct. 11 (Reuters) – Interest in learning Korean has increased since the hit Netflix show Squid Game (NFLX.O) started.
Language learning app Duolingo Inc (DUOL.O) said the nine-part thriller in which tight-budget contestants play deadly kids’ games to win 45.6 billion won ($ 38.19 million) had both beginners and beginners spurred existing students to improve their skills.
Duolingo reported a 76% increase in new users to learn Korean in the UK and 40% in the United States in the two weeks following the show’s premiere.
South Korea, Asia’s fourth largest economy, has established itself as a global entertainment hub with its vibrant pop culture including seven-piece boy band BTS and films like Oscar-winning “Parasite,” a black comedy about deepening inequality, and “Minari,” about an immigrant Korean family in the USA. Continue reading
Just this week the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) added 26 new words of Korean origin to its latest edition, including “hallyu” or Korean wave, the term often used to denote the global success of South Korean music, film, television, fashion and eat.
President Moon Jae welcomed the additions this week, calling “Hangeul,” the Korean alphabet, the country’s “soft power”.
“Language and culture are inextricably linked, and what happens in pop culture and the media often influences trends in language and language learning,” Duolingo spokesman Sam Dalsimer said in an email.
“The rising popularity of Korean music, film, and television around the world is increasing the demand for learning Korean.”
According to the Korea Foundation for International Cultural Exchange, there are around 77 million Koreans worldwide.
Pittsburgh-based Duolingo said it has more than 7.9 million active users learning Korean, the second fastest growing language after Hindi.
Run by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, the King Sejong Institute had around 76,000 students in 82 countries last year, up from just 740 students in three countries in 2007.
Milica Martinovic, a student at the Sejong Institute in Russia, said she wanted to master the language so she could watch unsubtitled K-dramas and hear K-pop without the need for translated texts.
Catarina Costa, a 24-year-old from Portugal who lives in Toronto, Canada, said the language had become more popular since she started learning it two years ago when most of her friends didn’t understand why.
“People are intrigued when I say I’m learning Korean,” says Costa, who uses the TalkToMeInKorean e-learning platform.
The program has 1.2 million members studying and learning words in 190 nations, including those added to the OED like kimbap, a cooked rice dish wrapped in seaweed; mukbang, a video that is often livestreamed showing someone eating a large amount of food, and; manhwa, a Korean genre of cartoons and comics.
“Even before the Squid Game or the BTS craze, thousands of people wanted to learn Korean, but they often learned in solitude,” said Sun Hyun-woo, founder of Talk To Me In Korean, a local 1,2-e-learning platform Millions of members learn Korean in 190 nations.
“Now they’re part of a ‘global phenomenon’; learning Korean has become a much cooler pastime,” he said.
($ 1 = 1,194,0000 won)
Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Additional coverage from Yeni Seo, Dogyun Kim, and Heejung Jung; Editing by Jane Wardell
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.