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

The success of manga, K-pop, series or films is linked to the increase in enrollment in language classes at university, according to a British report.

The interest in Asian culture is well established. With real success in Western societies, an academic report shows the correlation between the spread of Japanese and Korean arts and the increase in enrollment in these language classes at university.

Several Asian pop culture phenomena have emerged in recent years, such as series like Alice in Borderland, Hellbound, Stranger or Squid Game. The latter became the most viewed on Netflix this year, accounting for nearly 1.65 billion hours viewed according to the platform’s figures. A real craze, to such an extent that some overflows have been identified in primary schools by parents of students, teachers and child psychiatrists, concerning children who have tried the dangerous games of the series.

«In Squid Game, the dramatic rhythm and arc of the series is intelligible to viewers around the world, but at the same time, it touches on specifically Korean themes that are totally new to foreign audiences.Explains Sarah Keith, Korean pop culture researcher at Macquarie University in Australia. A novelty which therefore seems to appeal to university students, but also to the little ones.

The same goes for the movie Parasite by Bong Joonho, who won 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 One Piece, sold in France more than 25 million sales. On the occasion of the release of the hundredth volume of Luffy’s Adventures, an exceptional circulation of around 250,000 copies has been set up to mark the occasion.

On the music side, the K-pop boy band BTS is leading the way. With its planetary tube Dynamite, all records have been broken by accumulating 101.1 billion views in just 24 hours. In France, the group holds the attention of Internet users since Twitter lists 2.1 million tweets only in the year 2021. Other K-pop singers are also on the international podiums, like Blackpink, Superm or Girls’ Generation. So many figures who participate in this trend within Western universities.

This phenomenon has been studied in the United Kingdom by the University of the Council of Modern Languages ​​(UCML), an institution specializing in the study of languages. Experts in charge of the project noted an increase in enrollments in universities to take Korean and Japanese language diplomas, over the period 2012-2018 with a 71% increase in Japanese language classes and the passage, on average, of 50 places to 175 for Korean classes. In comparison, experts show that the teachings of Japanese are more popular than those of Italian. In the same sense, Korean is more important against Russian.

«They started to learn Japanese just for fun, then they found it fun, so they want to study more seriously, either as a diploma or as an optional subject“Kazuki Morimoto, professor of Japanese at the University of Leeds in the north of England, told the daily The Guardian. A trend that all the universities in the report confirm: Korean and Japanese class sizes increased by 19% in 2019 and on average by 39% in 2020-2021.