India: High on Hallyu

Arts & Culture International

Report from the language learning app, Duolingo, suggests that Korean is the fastest growing language in India.

Annyeonghaseyo” is quite a familiar phrase among the Indian youths of today. It is the basics of the language that has reached out to the millions of young minds round the globe, building the largest music fan base in the world. Be it vibing with the tunes of the Korean Pop boy band BTS, or K Drama shows like Boys over flowers or the recent Korean television series the Squid game,  Korean has competed with colonial languages like French and English, or even languages like Hindi, and German, to become the fastest growing language in India as suggested by the 2021 Duolingo report. The report also says that love for the Asian languages has observed an impressive growth worldwide in 2020.

An Article stated that Korean has become the fifth most popular language on Duolingo among Indian users aged 18 to 50, according to a survey conducted in Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata.

Rajeev K, who has been teaching Korean as a professional course for more than a decade now, has successfully transitioned to providing online classes and currently teaches four to five students every month.. “My students appear really interested in this course. It takes almost two- three months to complete the first level of learning the language,” says Rajeev.

He also added, “Most of the students I teach Korean are of the age of 14-15 years and eight out of ten learn the language out of influence of the Hallyu culture.”

An Article says that Korean language classes at Sejong Institute and the Korean Cultural Centre in India (KCCI) which are supported by Korean government have increased by 30 percent compared to 2021 and 400 percent compared to the year 2020.

The Hallyu wave or the rising global popularity of the South Korean culture, had been adapted by India few years ago. More people eventually started watching K-drama and listening to K-pop songs. This fuelled Indian interest in this foreign culture.
Korean becoming the fastest growing language in India, and more and more people are showing interest learning it

Priya N, a certified Korean educator from Bangalore, teaching at Institute of Universal language and Education said that more people are showing interest in the language since the last few years and had witnessed growth in taking up the language in the pandemic years. Priya said, “50 percent of the students opt for this course because they want to travel abroad for pursuing higher studies, 30 percent learn it specifically under the influence of K-pop and K-drama and the rest learn it because they want to learn a different language.”

She also said that she was someone who had been keen about learning a foreign language. “I started watching K-drama and initially developed an inclination towards the language, at first, I thought it to be Japanese but learning more about it made me realise that it was Korean. I started learning it individually then got a certified degree in the language. It has been three years that I am teaching Korean,” says Priya.

  • Picture shows book of Korean student.

Rajnandini M,a student at Techno India University, Kolkata said that she had been learning Korean individually since four years now and she believes her interest for the language had grown because of the inclination she had towards the boy band BTS and with the Hallyu wave that India has experienced in the last few years. “My interest in Korean language grew from watching K dramas and BTS. I started learning Korean in the hope that next time I listen to their songs, I would be able to understand it without much difficulty,” says Rajnandini.

However, she also added, “The fact that free lessons being available over social media platforms than any other languages had actually brought the change.”

Manjari G, professor of Language at Bethune college, Kolkata said that a large population of people these days have developed a strategy of fighting stress through K-pop, participating in the rhythm of this creative and liberating popular culture. “We live in a digital age where people especially youngsters prefer slipping into a cocoon shunning all other sounds other than their favourite music bands. And with that, Korean language has a prominent rise” said the professor.

That is probably why more Indians are now saying hello in Korean— Annyeonghaseyo!