K-Pop Is Causing a Surge in Korean Language Lessons Around the World

K-Pop star Psy has achieved global success
K-Pop star Psy has achieved global success | © CIAMBELLI/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

The demand for Korean language lessons is rising because of the popularity of K-Pop.

Loved by over 40s

More people are taking Korean language lessons because of the growing interest in K-Pop.

The music genre, made popular worldwide by stars like Psy and BTS, has inspired fans in countries like the US, Canada, Thailand and Malaysia to start learning Korean.

According to a report by the Modern Language Association, students taking Korean at US universities rose by almost 14% between 2013 and 2016, even though overall language enrolment decreased during this time.

There are now 14,000 people learning Korean in the US – a huge increase from two decades ago when there were just 163.

“Hallyu” or “Korean Wave” refers to the the popularity of South Korean culture that first begun in the mid-1990s.

But there’s just one snag for English native speakers – it’s ranked as one of the hardest languages to learn by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI).

Ji Hyun Park, who escaped from North Korea and has since settled in Manchester, teaches English for the tutoring service Chatterbox.

She told the BBC: “Different languages are used to speak to adults and children – words like ‘hello’ and ‘goodnight’ are different depending on whether you are speaking to a child or an adult.”

Park has noticed how Korean culture has become more popular in the UK over the years.

“When Gangnam Style was popular, my son was a teenager in high school and told me that his friends were all singing it even though they didn’t understand what the words meant.”

- embed -

Duolingo, a language learning website, launched a Korean course last year, which now has 200,000 pupils.

K-Pop has become so prevalent that a UN aid agency uses it in a project that connects young refugees from the Middle East with western students via Skype as a conversation starter.

Foreign K-Pop fans are also starting to adapt the way they speak. A study of an Algerian K-Pop Facebook group, which was published in the journal Sino-US English Teaching, found most of its members had started using Korean words and phrases in normal conversation.

As demand grows around the world, the South Korean government is set to launch 130 language institutes in 50 countries.

Meanwhile, BTS, a boy band formed by Big Hit Entertainment, has become one of the few K-Pop acts to achieve international success. Earlier this year, they shot straight to number one in the US Billboard 200 chart with their third album Love Yourself: Tear – the only K-Pop band to manage this feat so far.

The band have also won top social artist for the past two years at the Billboard Music Awards, beating acts like Justin Bieber and Demi Lovato.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.