K-pop & The Rise of Korean language-learners: The phenomenon of ‘the Korean wave’

Have a look around the Instagram and Twitter language learning community and you will be hard-pressed to not find an account that isn’t learning or at least interested in learning Korean.

Were you around for the Gangnam Style phase? If not, then where were you? If so, you too were sucked into the KPOP craze - whether you like it or not! Many of us sang (and danced) naively to the lyrics of Gangnam Style, not knowing what on earth they could mean, but enjoying them nonetheless. Some of us, at least at that point, may not have been completely aware of what K-pop is. So for those of you who are still unsure - what is K-Pop and what’s this craze all about?

The wave of popularity for South Korean culture is known as "Hallyu".

K-pop is short for Korean pop, which specifically originated in South Korea. In short, K-pop is a genre of music mixture of other genres, particularly rock, R&B, hip-hop, and electronic. It is the desire to learn the lyrics of K-Pop hits like Gangnam Style that has sky-rocketed the number of people studying Korean in countries like the US, Canada, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Korean is one of the hardest languages for an English speaker to learn, yet it is one of the languages that has grown the most amongst English speakers over recent decades. A report written by the Modern Language Association shows that the number of students studying Korean in the US has increased by around 14% in the years between 2013 and 2016. However, during this time the overall percentage of university students enrolling in a language course was decreasing.

Read the rest of this article in our March issue..