Why 26 Korean words have been added to Oxford English Dictionary

Whether it’s watching a show like Squid Game or listening to BTS hits such as Butter or Dynamite, chances are you’ve had some kind of Korean influence in your life.

And now that South Korean influence has reached the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

The “accepted authority on the English language” has added 26 new words of Korean origin to its latest edition.

With these additions, “we are all riding the crest of the Korean wave” the OED says in a statement.

‘A wave rippling on the sea of English words’

Korean food features heavily in the latest list, with some of the new additions including:

  • banchan, noun. – A small side dish of vegetables, served along with rice as part of a typical Korean meal.
  • bulgogi, n. – In Korean cooking: a dish of thin slices of beef or pork which are marinated then grilled or stir-fried.
  • kimbap, n. – A Korean dish consisting of cooked rice and other ingredients wrapped in a sheet of seaweed and cut into bite-sized slices.

With the international success of Squid Game, Parasite and BTS, it should come as no surprise South Korean pop culture is represented in the list as well.

  • hallyu, n. – The increase in international interest in South Korea and its popular culture, represented by the global success of South Korean music, film, TV, fashion and food.
  • K-drama, n. – A television series in the Korean language and produced in South Korea.
  • manhwa, n. – A Korean genre of cartoons and comic books, often influenced by Japanese manga.
  • mukbang, n. – A video, esp. one that is livestreamed, that features a person eating a large quantity of food and talking to the audience.

The OED said including so many Korean words was a recognition of the shift in language used by English speakers.

“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, thus allowing the Korean wave to continue to ripple on the sea of English words.”

The full list of new words can be found here.

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