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‘K English’ spreads through K-pop

Posted October. 05, 2020 07:44,   

Updated October. 05, 2020 07:44


As Korean pop culture including K-pop, dramas and movies enjoy increasing popularity worldwide, a growing number of original Korean words are being used as English words. Among others, “Choae” a newly coined Korean word meaning “most favored” and “Bolmae” meaning ‘“looking more attractive over time” are being used as English words.

Foreign fans of Korean idol bands use words that their Korean fans use in Korea, rather than English words. For example, “Maknae” is being used in lieu of “the youngest member” of a band. In social media channels for foreign fans, “Ipdeok” meaning “becoming deokhu (maniac)” and “Taldeok” meaning “quitting as deokhu” frequently appear.

There is strong fever to learn Korean language among foreign fans. The number of applicants for TOPIK (test of proficiency in Korean) exceeded 370,000 last year. Many foreigners are visiting Sejong Hakdang (Academy) that has opened in 213 locations in 76 countries worldwide to teach Korean language and culture. A total of 101 organizations in 50 countries worldwide, the largest number ever, applied to host a new Sejong Hakdang this year.

The Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry issued last month “Korean Language Linking the World,” a plan to spread the Korean language that includes three implementation strategies and nine tasks aimed at globalizing the language,’ and announced its commitment to specialize, customize and diversify the program to spread Korean. “The spread of the Korean language and Korean characters is becoming a driving force for new Korean Wave as it goes beyond pop culture and penetrates into the living of foreigners,” the ministry said.

Hyo-Lim Son aryssong@donga.com