By Sangmi Cha and Yeni Seo
SEOUL, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Interest in learning Korean has skyrocketed since the release of popular Netflix series “The Squid Game,” several coaching companies said, highlighting a growing global obsession with South Korean culture, starting with Leisure to beauty products.
Language education app Duolingo Inc said the nine-episode thriller, in which cash-strapped contestants play killer childhood games in a bid to win 45.6 billion won ($38,190), has stimulated both beginners and those already studying the language, who hope in that. Improve their proficiency in the Korean language.
Duolingo reported a 76% increase in the number of new users who signed up to learn Korean in the UK and 40% in the US in the two weeks following the program’s premiere.
South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, has become a global entertainment hub with its lively pop culture, featuring seven-member boy band BTS, and films like Academy Award-winning “Parasites,” a black comedy about rising inequality in the South. Korean Society, the “Minari”, is about a family of Korean immigrants in the United States.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) this week added 26 new words of Korean origin to its latest edition, including “Hallyu,” or “Korean Wave,” the term generally used to describe the global success of South Korean music, film and television, fashion and food.
“There were thousands of people who wanted to learn Korean even before ‘The Squid Game’ or the craze for BTS, but they used to do it themselves,” said Sun Hyun-woo, founder of Talk To Me In Korean, a local. An e-learning program platform with 1.2 million members studying Korean in 190 countries.
“Now they are part of a ‘global phenomenon: learning Korean has become a more attractive hobby,'” he said.
(Information by Sangmi Cha; additional information by Yeni Seo, Dogyun Kim, and Heejung Jung; Editing by Jane Wardell; Translated by Flora Gómez in the Gdansk Newsroom)