Korean Wave Takes Over Oxford English Dictionary With 26 Words

The Oxford English Dictionary has added 26 Korean words in its latest edition reflecting the impact Korean culture has had on the world.

BOOM Team
Update: 2021-10-07 09:28 GMT

After taking over TV/laptop screens and social media feeds with their acclaimed movies and pop music, the Oxford English Dictionary is the latest western institution to reflect the growing global influence of South Korean culture.

The historical dictionary has added 26 Korean words in its latest edition reflecting the impact Korean culture has had on the world.

Like many foreign words imported into the English language, pop culture has played a huge part in the inclusion of Korean words in the OED.

Parasite, directed by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, became the first non-English-language film to win a Best Picture Oscar. K-pop acts like BTS and Blackpink have transcended the boundaries of language to become global superstars while TV shows like Squid Game, Kingdom and Stranger have become critically acclaimed in the west.

The prefix K-, shortened from Korean to be combined with words to form words referring to South Korean culture, is one of the latest additions to the OED.

So, what are the Korean words that have been added to the Oxford English dictionary and what do they mean?

Hallyu and Korean wave, though mean the same thing, refer to the rise in popularity of Korean culture in the world.

There are also a list of terms used for endearment that have been added to the dictonary. Oppa, noona and unni which have been popularized with their usage in K-dramas and K-pop culture to refer to actors, actresses and singers that fans like. Oppa is also used to refer to an attractive South Korean man.

Aegyo, cuteness or charm, has long been popularised by K-pop stars with hundreds of fan-made video compilations uploaded on YouTube.

The popularity of K-dramas has also seen a rising interest among international fans to consume Korean food that features in the shows. Bulgogi, dongchimi, galbi, japchae, kimbap and samgyeopsal find mention in the OED.

Also included is the word chimaek which is a combination of chikin, the Korean word for chicken and maekju, which stands for beer. The OED notes that chimaek gained popularity outside South Korea after the lead character on the fantasy K-drama My Love from the Star snacked on chimaek.

Another food-related induction is mukbang which refers to a video of a person eating a large quantity of food and talking to the audience. Mukbang has become a YouTube genre of its own with content creators across the world creating mukbang videos for the viewing pleasure of their fans. The genre has even transitioned from being a niche interest to one where even Oscar-nominated actors indulge in it.

Full View

Here is the full list of words of Korean origin which have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

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