One Piece, Squid Game and Parasite push young people towards Asian languages

A British report said that the success of manga, K-pop, soap operas or films is linked to increased enrollment in university language classes.

Interest in Asian culture is well established. With real success in Western societies, an academic report has shown the relationship between the spread of Japanese and Korean arts and the increased enrollment of these language classes at the university.

Many Asian pop culture phenomena have emerged in recent years, such as series like Alice in BorderlandAnd destined to perishAnd Stranger or squid game. The latter became the most watched on Netflix this year, accounting for nearly 1.65 billion watch hours according to platform numbers. A real madness, so much so that some excesses were identified in elementary schools by parents of students, teachers and child psychiatrists, in relation to children who tried dangerous games in the series.

«In the Squid Game, the series’ dramatic rhythm and arc are obvious to viewers around the world, but at the same time, it touches on specifically Korean themes that are completely new to foreign audiences.Sarah Keith, a K-pop culture researcher at Macquarie University in Australia explains. Novelty thus looks attractive to college students, but also to juniors.

The same goes for the movie parasite Bong Junho, winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 and four Oscars in 2020 (Best Film, Best Foreign Film, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director). Similar effect with the success of the manga Piece, sold in France more than 25 million sales. To mark the release of the 100th volume of Luffy’s Adventures, an extraordinary circulation of nearly 250,000 copies was released to mark the occasion.

On the musical side, K-pop boy band BTS is taking the lead. with its planetary tube dynamiteAll records were broken by collecting 101.1 billion views in just 24 hours. In France, the group has been capturing the attention of netizens since Twitter only listed 2.1 million tweets in 2021. Other K-pop singers are also on international podiums, such as Blackpink, Superm or Girls’ Generation. A lot of personalities who participate in this trend within Western universities.

This phenomenon has been studied in the United Kingdom by the University Council for Modern Languages ​​(UCML), an institution that specializes in the study of languages. The experts in charge of the project noted an increase in university enrollment for Korean and Japanese language diplomas, during the 2012-2018 period with a 71% increase in Japanese language classes and a pass rate, on average, from 50 to 175 for Korean. layers. By comparison, experts show that Japanese teachings are more common than Italian teachings. In the same sense, the Korean language is more important than the Russian.

«They start learning Japanese just for fun, then find it interesting, so they want to study more seriously, either as a diploma or as an optional subjectKazuki Morimoto, a professor of Japanese language at the University of Leeds in northern England, told the newspaper Watchman. A trend confirmed by all universities in the report: Korean and Japanese class sizes increased by 19% in 2019 and by an average of 39% in 2020-2021.

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