A recent study found that in general, college students aren’t taking foreign language classes as much as they used to — a slowdown of nearly 7 percent since 2009. But for one language in particular, there’s actually been a pretty amazing jump in the rate of enrollment: Korean.
The Modern Language Association says there was a 45 percent increase in university-level enrollment in Korean language classes between 2009 and 2013, from 8,449 students to 12,229. Though the raw numbers are still quite small, a look at why any sort of jump might be happening is interesting. Larry Gordon, a reporter for theLos Angeles Times, thinks the wave of international fascination with Korean pop culture — hallyu — is partially responsible.
The surge and spread of Korean pop culture as a national export became especially strong in the late 1990s, when South Korea’s President Kim Dae-jung wanted to punch up the country’s “soft power” by developing a super-fast Internet structure and a network of Korean entertainers the world would pay attention to.
“Non-Koreans fascinated with contemporary culture are leading the trend,” Gordon points out. “Some were drawn by the K-pop dance moves of Psy in his 2012 international video hit ‘Gangnam Style’ or by the English-subtitled TV series ‘Queen of Housewives.’ And some by the prospect of jobs at Korean corporations.”
Original Article Taken from www.npr.org