Korean language flies high toward the world
Learning the Korean language has started to become popular among foreigners, the interest in which has been galvanized by the craze for Korea's pop music and dramas. Why have people become interested in the language of a small country in East Asia that has strange pronunciation sounds and unusual letters?
With the power of the Korean wave
The love for K-pop and dramas among foreigners has now triggered a passion for the country's language. Originally, they learned Korean language in order to enjoy Korea's soap operas and music without relying on translation. However, the reasons for learning the language have now become clearer. For starters, people from developing nations are learning it in order to study in Korea's universities. While staying in Korea, they can learn about Korea's economic development and democracy and later contribute what they have learned to their home country's development. In addition, some want to land a job in Korea to financially help with their families.
Indeed, the increasing demand for learning the language is largely due to the nation's significant economic and cultural development. However, it is also true that many people from other nations learn it because of its scientific system, convenience and beauty. For example, in African nations, many choose to learn Korean instead of Chinese despite many Chinese firms operating in that continent. This is because Korean is a lot easier to learn than Chinese. Furthermore, people in the Middle East first learned it in order to watch Korean dramas without subtitles but now they are more attracted by the beauty of pronunciation and shape of the letters.
Convergence with a variety of culture and art
Korean language is the only one whose creator and principles are both known to people. 'Hunminjeongeum Haerye' which describes the motive for its creation and usage was designated as 'Memory of the World' by UNESCO. Each letter was ingeniously created based on the shapes of the vocal organs, sky, land and human body. Furthermore, anyone can form words upon learning 24 letters which have individual sounds, enabling foreigners to learn the language more easily.
Lee cham, CEO of Korea Tourism Organization, was born in Germany and was naturalized as a Korean citizen. He says, "I taught Korean language to foreigners in the late 1980s. In class, I explained the language's principles and they started reading the language after only 20 minutes of study." Indeed, the ease by which the language can be learned attracts more and more foreigners. In addition, Korean culture and tourism industries have helped to globalize the language.
There are many cultural events that introduce Korean language to the world. In fact, the beauty of the language has inspired many artists. Lee Sang-bong, a fashion designer, has applied Korean letters to his design and held fashion shows featuring garments which are imprinted with Korean letters. His Hangeul (Korean language) design has now expanded to cell-phones, cigarette cases, scarves, and pottery. Meanwhile, 'Milmul Modern Dance Company' which is a Korean dance team has performed shows in which Korean letters are formed through dance since 1991.
The world map of culture drawn with the language
Recently, it is easy to find Korean letters in various pop cultures. For example, the movie 'Cloud Atlas' has a background setting where borders between nations disappear and the Korean language becomes the universal language of the world along with English in 2144. 'Total Recall' (2012) has some scenes where we can find Korean letters such as '리콜‘, ‘리콜’, ‘맥주’ and ‘이십오.’ "Mission impossible: Ghost protocol' (2011) also has a scene where a Korean word '유리‘ is seen.
When 'Will.I.Am' of world-renowned group 'Black Eyed Peas' released a song 'Check it out'(2010), Korean subtitles were shown in the music video. Although this is partly thanks to the director of the music video, a Korean American, the value and fantastic shape of the language also must have been a factor.
The Korean government is now actively attempting to promote the Korean language. 'King Sejong Institute', a Korean language school for foreigners, expanded its branches worldwide from 22 to 113. It is now poised to open its 200th school by 2017. Next year, it will open the Hangeul Museum to exhibit materials explaining the process related to the creation and propagation of the Korean language, its excellence and its current status. The Korean language is now in the process of transforming itself from a mere language to a solid culture. At the age of 567, this ancient language is now being newly born as part of world culture.