Korean Language Spikes in Global Popularity Thanks to K-Dramas

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The incredible popularity of K-dramas around the world is doing more than putting Korean stars on the global stage. These shows are also driving the demand among foreigners to learn the Korean language.

A prime example of Hangeul‘s globalization is the term “xi,” pronounced “ssi,” which is a term of courtesy added after the end of one’s name, somewhat equivalent to “Mr.,” “Ms.” and “Mrs.” The use of the word “xi” was sparked by China’s airing of the hit K-drama My Love From the Star, which features actress Jun Ji-hyun of My Sassy Girl and actor Kim Soo-hyun of The Thieves. In the episodes aired in China, instead of Jun’s character calling Kim just by his name Do Min-jun in the drama, Jun adds “ssi” after it, reflecting its original Korean pronunciation, instead of adapting it to Chinese, as previously done in Chinese-language versions of K-dramas.

JoongAng Daily reports that this is the first time a Korean word was not translated into Chinese.
“It looks like people are drawn to know more about the Korean language after that word was used in the drama,” said Shen Yingqin, a Chinese-language tutor in South Korea.

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