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Keywords Reveal Korea’s Most-Searched Topics in 2004

Posted December. 22, 2004 22:51,   


What is the best topic for Koreans in 2004? The search window displayed on portal sites is an excellent tool to answer the question.

Keywords in search windows show that Koreans, though suffering through political turmoil represented by “president impeachment” and shadowed by the economic slump, pursued “well being” and the richness of life in their own ways. And “Lotto” was still making many people not give up on dreaming of a bonanza last year..

Dong-a Ilbo reporters asked four major portal sites—Naver, Daum, Empas, Nate—about the most popular search keywords of 2004, and analyzed the rankings that those portal sites handed over.

Pursuing the Richness of Life in the Midst of Economic Recession—

“Lotto” ranked from first to third in all four rankings, becoming the most popular topic of 2004. The keyword ranked first both in Naver and Nate. This can be interpreted to mean that ordinary people suffering the economic downward trend since last year are still dreaming of a whole life turnover.

Along with this, “part-time job” ranked first in Daum and forth in Naver, indicating unemployment worsened. “Employment” also turned up as one of the most frequently searched words.

Meanwhile, in the advent of the year of “well being”--given that the phrase is the second most frequently searched for word in Nate--in Daum, “KTX (Korea Train Express)” and “National Railroad Administration” ranked 19th and fifth, respectively, symbolizing that a great number of people had searched for information regarding traveling and leisure activities.

A Series of Shocking News, from “President Impeachment” to “Kim Sun-il”—

As expected, the unprecedented “presidential impeachment” in Korean constitutional history was also the baggiest issue of 2004.

As a great deal of attention was paid to moving images of “decapitation,” which shocked the whole nation, “Kim Sun-il” ranked first in the news section of Naver.

Besides these, “administrative capital relocation,” (third in Nate) “garbage mandu—Korean dumplings—scandal,” (eighth in Empas) and “serial killer Yoo Young-chul” (10th in Nate) were among the most frequently searched keywords of 2004 as well.

Due to a serious of major controversies regarding political and social scandals, a number of aphorisms were created. The “customary constitution” that the Constitutional Court based its ruling that the Special Law on New Administrative Capital Construction was unconstitutional on raised a lot of disputes, even in cyberspace.

Korean Wave Continues at Home—

“Yon sama,” (Bae Yong-joon) which was chosen as the hit word for 2004 in Japan, and which made the list of hit products, drew attention to a great degree in Korea as well. The Korean dance group, “Dong Bang Shin Ki” (New Generation), who served to heat the Korean wave this year, held a high rank, too.

“Eoljjang,” the shortened Korean slang word for a pretty face, was a big hit last year, but this year, search hits expanded to another trend represented by the newly-coined word ”Momjjang,” which is shortened Korean slang for a knockout body. Not only that, the trend was later distorted to create a new term, “Gangjjang,” that idealized a female burglar with pretty face, symbolizing how seriously the sense of values towards outward appearances have been deformed in Korea.

“This year, the Korean people experienced serious political turmoil through impeachment and suffered acute economic deprivation, while pursuing well being. Such political, economic, and cultural realities are well projected on the Internet,” said professor Cho Dae-yup of the Social Studies Department at Korea University.

Jae-Dong Yu jarrett@donga.com