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  • Lawrence Ng

Squid Game Boosts Interest in Learning Korean Language Online

Online tutoring services noticed that interest in learning the Korean language has increased since the Korean drama (K-drama) "Squid Game" premiered on Netflix. According to language learning app Duolingo, the Netflix series spurred beginners and existing students to hone their Korean language skills.

Credit: Netflix

Over the two weeks following the TV show's debut, the app reported a 76% hike in new users in Great Britain signing up to learn Korean and a 40% rise in the United States.

Duolingo spokesperson Sam Dalsimer said that as Korean entertainment is becoming more popular, the demand for learning Korean is rising.

"Language and culture are intrinsically connected and what happens in pop culture and media often influences trends in language and language learning. The rising global popularity of Korean music, film and television is increasing demand for learning Korean," said Dalsimer.

Credit: Madman Films

South Korea has established itself as a global entertainment hub, with South Korean pop (K-pop) bands like BTS and BLACKPINK as well as Oscar-winning films "Parasite" and "Minari" drawing widespread attention. "Parasite" won the Best Picture award in the 2020 Oscars, while "Minari" actress Youn Yuh-jung took home the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award in 2021.

Sun Hyun-woo, founder of e-learning platform Talk To Me In Korean, said that thousands of people wanted to learn Korean before Squid Game came out.

"There were thousands of people who wished to learn Korean even before Squid Game or the BTS craze, yet they were often studying in solitude. Now they are part of a 'global phenomenon'; learning Korean has turned into a much cooler pastime," Sun said.

Talk To Me In Korean has 1.2 million members studying Korean across 190 nations. Meanwhile, Duolingo has over 7.9 million active users learning Korean, which is the app's second fastest-growing language after Hindi.

Credit: emdot via Flickr

Recently, 26 words of Korean origin were added to the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

"The adoption and development of these Korean words in English also demonstrate how lexical innovation is no longer confined to the traditional centres of English in the United Kingdom and the United States — they show how Asians in different parts of the continent invent and exchange words within their own local contexts, then introduce these words to the rest of the English-speaking world, thus allowing the Korean wave to continue to ripple on the sea of English words," wrote the OED in a statement.

Among the words that were included in the OED was "hallyu" or Korean wave. This term describes the phenomenal growth of Korean culture and pop culture, as seen in the increasing popularity of K-pop, K-dramas, Korean fashion, food and the like.


Written by Sophia Lopez


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