Here’s How K-Pop Is Affecting Korean Language Learning Around The World

K-Pop is the driving force behind the increasing popularity of Korean language studies around the world.

Fans love K-Pop so much that more and more of them are learning Korean in countries like the US, Canada, Thailand and Malaysia.

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According to a report by the Modern Language Association, Korean uptake in US universities rose by almost 14% between 2013 and 2016, during a period when overall language enrolment was in decline.

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Red Velvet at a fanmeet in Chicago. Image: Kelly Sipko

 

The latest statistics show 14,000 students are learning Korean in the US, compared to only 163 twenty years ago.

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Fans at GOT7’s concert in Malaysia.

There has been such an increase in demand for Korean language lessons that Duolingo launched a course last year – and it now has more than 200,000 students online.

 

K-Pop has become so widespread that a UN aid agency uses the music genre as a conversation starter in a project which connects young refugees from the Middle East with Western students over Skype.

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Fans at a SMTOWN concert in Dubai earlier this year. Image: The National

 

And in Toronto, Canada, more and more students are enrolling in Korean language courses in university thanks to the popularity of Korean music and drama.

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“Among my students I have a young woman who grew up in an isolated farm house in Grey County Ontario, but she chose the University of Toronto because she wanted to learn all about Korea. That would never have happened 15 years ago. The phenomenon is enabled by the rise of YouTube, such that someone like her can have access to these cultural products in such remote places.” — Professor Schmid of Toronto University

It’s true that international K-Pop fans can learn phrases or words like annyeong (안녕), aegyo (애교), daebak (대박), yeppo (예뻐), saranghae (사랑해), unnie (언니) and oppa (오빠) through exposure to K-Pop songs, and many take it further to start language courses.

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  • “Not gonna lie, I learned how to read Hangul cause of it. Not sure what any of it means but I can read it.”
  • “I started learning if not only because I wanted to understand some videos that are never going to get subbed.”
  • “I love Bangtan!! I’m so proud of them and yep, I’m studying Korean for them.”

 

With the rise in international fandoms around the world, more and more fans want to be able to communicate with their favorite idols in Korean, and bilingual fans often help others out.

 

Although the language isn’t exactly a piece of cake, international fans’ love for their idols is overcoming the language barrier and, at the same time, spreading the joy of K-Pop across the world.

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