As the South Korean entertainment, beauty and food industry takes the world by storm, the dictionary is ‘riding the crest of the Korean wave’.

Oxford English Dictionary added 26 new Korean words in reference to food, fashion and entertainment in its latest edition amid increasing global popularity of the South Korean culture.

“We are all riding the crest of the Korean wave, and this can be felt not only in film, music, or fashion, but also in our language, as evidenced by some of the words and phrases of Korean origin included in the latest update of the Oxford English Dictionary,” read a blog post by Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

The K-prefix, standing for Korean, is now prominently featured in the dictionary as the world is now listening to K-pop, -- added to the OED in 2016 --, use K-beauty products, and watch K-dramas.

Among the new words appearing in the dictionary is ‘hallyu’, which roughly translates as 'the Korean wave' or ‘the Korean pop culture wave.’ The dictionary said the word is also “frequently as a modifier, as in hallyu craze, hallyu fan, hallyu star.”

For example, maybe the most popular hallyu band is BTS, the world's most known K-pop band, while Netflix’s 2021 production ‘Squid Game’ is now the most recent global hallyu.

The dictionary also featured some food related words. ‘Bulgogi’, “a dish of thin slices of beef or pork” and ‘banchan’, “a small side dish of vegetables, etc, served along with rice” are among the newly added words of Korean origin.

While updating the definition of “kimchi”, one of the most iconic Korean dishes, the dictionary also added a specific type of kimchi, ‘dongchimi’ that is “made with radish and typically also containing napa cabbage”.

“The adoption and development of these Korean words in English also demonstrate how lexical innovation is no longer confined to the traditional centres of English in the United Kingdom and the United States,” the dictionary said.

“They show how Asians in different parts of the continent invent and exchange words within their own local contexts, then introduce these words to the rest of the English-speaking world…”

Maybe ‘aegyo’, a word defining cutesy behaviour that includes cute voice, facial expressions, or gestures, or ‘mukbang’ -- a live-streamed video, that features a person eating a large quantity of food and addressing the audience are some of the good examples of said local contexts. 

Some newly added words are not directly Korean words, but rather existing English words with new senses.

‘Fighting!’ -- a statement that Koreans use as encouragement, or show support, or ‘skinship’,  is a blend of two English words, ‘skin’ and ‘kinship’ following the model of the Korean word ‘seukinsip’ and Japanese word ‘sukinshippu’.

In Japanese and Korean context, it describes the close physical contact between parent and child or between lovers or friends that strengthen an emotional bond. 

“South Korea is a country whose cultural and consumer products are highly sought after in the region, and the way it sells these products to countries in Asia and beyond is through the global lingua franca that is English,” the OED said.

“That is how a country where English is not a majority language, and where it plays no official role, can have such an impact on modern English vocabulary.”

Source: TRT World