In the past, the desire to learn Korean due to the popular culture-centered Hallyu craze was limited to Asia. But now, the Korean language and Korean studies craze is strong in the United States and Europe, where they did not know the true meaning of Korean language and Korea. People around the world are fascinated by the unfamiliar beauty of Hangeul, which is made by stacking and pasting short and long sticks, circles, and squares. Interest in Korea itself, which has emerged as a major stage in the strategic competition between the US and China, as a world’s ‘high-end’ factory and research institute armed with advanced technology and capital, is also growing in interest.
In a recent report by the American Association for Modern Languages (MLA), it was noted that Korean has emerged as one of the few foreign languages with an increase in the number of students enrolled in U.S. higher education institutions. According to MLA, among the 15 major languages in the United States from 2013 to 2016, the number of students taking Korean increased by 13.7%, from 12,256 to 13,936. During the same period, the number of French learners decreased by 11.1% and the number of Italian students also decreased by 20.1%. Chinese students decreased by 13.1%.
On the 8th, Dr. Ho-jung Choi, head of the Korean language program at Princeton University, USA, explained that students who want to learn the Korean language and Korean studies are interested in Korean popular culture as well as social and political issues. Dr. Choi said, “There are a lot of students who are interested in the North Korean situation and human rights issues. Stanford University, a prestigious university in the western United States, also established a Korean Studies major in the Faculty of East Asian Languages and Cultures in 2017. At the time, Stanford University explained, “The new major was created in the direction of a more comprehensive study of Korea, which is occupying an increasingly large place in the hearts of young Americans.”
Kang Wan-hee, director of the Korean Education Center in San Francisco, said, “As shown by the craze of the Netflix drama ‘Squid Game’, the number of locals who want to know Korean culture is increasing. In the west, following Stanford and UC Berkeley, Korean language courses were opened one after another at Colorado State University. Colorado State University is pursuing a plan to expand the liberal arts Korean credit course for first and second year students to third year as the demand to learn Korean among American college students increases.
The government also plans to add 36 King Sejong Institutes, an overseas Korean language education institution, next year to respond to the rapidly increasing demand for Korean language education. As of the end of last year, there were 234 King Sejong Institutes in 82 countries. Considering that there were only 171 places until 2017, the increase is clear.
The addition of 26 new Korean words to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) last month is a symbolic example of the increased influence of the Korean language in Europe. The Korean words added to this year’s OED are △K-drama, △Korean wave, △Mukbang, △Jackpot, △Fighting, and △galbi. In this regard, the BBC said, “Whether you watch Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ or listen to BTS’ new songs, there is a very high probability that you have encountered Korean culture in your life. are doing,” he said.
Even in Asia, the epicenter of the Korean craze, the number of learners is increasing. In particular, India, a country with a population of 1.4 billion, which has a special pride in its popular culture and language, has begun to ‘dedicate’ to Korean culture and Korean language in earnest. The Indian media Economic Times recently reported on the trend of Korean culture, noting that “K-magic is sweeping India.” Hwang Il-yong, director of the Korean Cultural Center Joo-do, expressed surprise in an interview with the media, saying, “In two to three minutes of registration to receive an application for a 3-month Korean online class, all 1,200 seats were filled.”
In 2016, Malaysia and the Philippines adopted Korean as a second language in 2018. Vietnam adopted Korean as its first foreign language in February this year. This means that Korean is on the same level as English and Chinese.