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Episode 58: Korean Pop triggers rise in Korean language

South Korean group BTS visit 'The Morning Mash Up' On SiriusXM Hits 1 Channel at SiriusXM Studios on April 12, 2019 in New York City.

The fascination of a diverse group of Australians with all things South Korean, particularly the country’s music, has led to an increased uptake in Korean language classes.

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Italian

Moda, film, libri, lingua e musica - un numero crescente di australiani subisce il fascino di tutto ciò che è coreano.

La boy-band di sette elementi, BTS, è insieme dal 2013 e recentemente ha raggiunto i vertici delle classifiche australiane di streaming.

Tra i tanti fan australiani c'è la studentessa della Monash University Susan Alhabsyi.

La 29enne di origine indonesiana dice che il suo amore per il K-Pop l'ha indotta a studiare il coreano.

“The main reason why I started studying Korean was to understand what the lyrics were saying in all these K-Pop songs. I am a big fan of K-Pop myself and I wanted to understand what they were saying in their videos and all the streams. I just wanted to connect with them on a different level.”

A suo dire la musica coreana l'ha introdotta ad un nuovo mondo.

“I think it's the lyrics themselves - it’s different to Western music. I am able to connect to them on a different level, emotionally, but enjoy the beat as well.”  

E non è la sola. 

Il dottor Thomas Baudinette, docente di studi asiatici della Macquarie University, afferma che è un trend in aumento.

“It’s a really fascinating global phenomenon, there’s a massive attraction to Korean groups. What’s happened is we are seeing young people, but other groups as well, becoming increasingly interested in Korea; its music, its television, music and food. And this strong attachment to Korea is then translating to a really strong interest into Korean language."

Il dottor Baudinette osserva che australiani di vari background partecipano alle lezioni e si incontrano privatamente per imparare la lingua.

“Across Australian Universities we see increased enrolment in Korean language programs,  we are also seeing student reaching out to self-teach - they are doing lessons on their own, they use the internet to learn, they go to meet other Koreans to they can speak Korean with Korean people and then maybe they share their english with Korean people; it’s this very dynamic movement.”

La devozione per tutto ciò che è coreano non include solo la musica del Paese.

Molti australiani sono anche attratti dai film, dalla moda e dal cibo della Corea del Sud.

E mentre molti ritengono che questa moda attragga solo adolescenti o australiani di origine coreana o asiatica - non è così.

Secondo il dottor Baudinette questa tendenza è ugualmente diffusa attraverso un’ampia gamma di comunità e fasce d'età.

Sevana Ohandjanian, che lavora per SBS Pop Asia, è d'accordo sul fatto che sia un grande movimento.

“K-Pop is really popular in Australia, I don’t think people realise how big the audience is. A lot of artists come here every year and have sell-out concerts, so it’s actually kind of huge.”

A suo dire i BTS sono diventati il volto del K-POP nel mondo occidentale.

“They have just gone on to become more and more popular. They use social media a lot, which is how they spread their message so widely.”

Il dottor Baudinette sostiene che quel che attrae molti australiani verso la cultura e la musica pop della Corea del Sud -  i BTS in particolare - è la sua natura positiva.

“In regards to BTS, they have this message of loving yourself and supporting yourself through hard times and a recognition that being a young person is sometimes really difficult. And the community has taken that message  to heart. They support each other, they reach out to each other when they are struggling. They share messages from the band to motivate them through hard times. So I don’t think of this fandom as something that is superficial it’s actually very deep and emotionally very meaningful.”

I continui riferimenti della band a messaggi anticonformisti e che incoraggiano l'autostima sembra in effetti trovare riscontro tra molti australiani.

The band’s heavy reliance on messages of non-conformity and self-esteem certainly seems to resonate with many Australians. 


 

English

Fashion, movies, books, language and music - there's a fascination among a growing number of Australians with all things Korean.

The seven-member boy-band, BTS, has been together since 2013 and recently topped Australian streaming charts.

Among its many Australian fans is Monash University student, Susan Alhabsyi.

The 29-year old with Indonesian heritage says her love for K-Pop has prompted her to study Korean.

“The main reason why I started studying Korean was to understand what the lyrics were saying in all these K-Pop songs. I am a big fan of K-Pop myself and I wanted to understand what they were saying in their videos and all the streams. I just wanted to connect with them on a different level.”

She says Korean music introduced her to a whole new world.

“It’s different to Western music. I am able to connect to them on a different level, emotionally, but enjoy the beat as well.”  

She is not alone. 

Macquarie University Asian studies academic, Dr Thomas Baudinette, says it’s a growing trend.

It’s a really fascinating global phenomenon, there’s a massive attraction to Korean groups. What’s happened is we are seeing young people, but other groups as well, becoming increasingly interested in Korea; its music, its television, music and food. And this strong attachment to Korea is then translating to a really strong interest into Korean language."

Dr Baudinette says Australians from different backgrounds do both: attend classes and meet privately to learn the language.

“Across Australian Universities we see increased enrolment in Korean language programs,  we are also seeing student reaching out to self-teach - they are doing lessons on their own, they use the internet to learn, they go to meet other Koreans to they can speak Korean with Korean people and then maybe they share their english with Korean people; it’s this very dynamic movement.”  

He says it’s a very dynamic movement.

The devotion to all things Korean doesn't only include the country’s music.

Many Australians are equally attracted to South Korean films, fashion, and food.

And while many may think the “craze” mainly attracts teens or Australians with a Korean or Asian heritage - that’s not the case.

Dr Baudienette says it is fairly evenly spread across a diverse range of communities and age groups.

Sevana Ohandjanian, who works for SBS Pop Asia, agrees it’s a big movement.

 “K-Pop is really popular in Australia, I don’t think people realise how big the audience is. A lot of artists come here every year and have sell-out concerts, so it’s actually kind of huge.”

She says BTS has become the face of K-POP in the western world.

“They have just gone on to become more and more popular. They use social media a lot, which is how they spread their message so widely.”

Dr Baudinette says what draws many Australians to this love affair with South Korean pop culture and music -  BTS in particular - is its supportive nature.

“In regards to BTS, they have this message of loving yourself and supporting yourself through hard times and a recognition that being a young person is sometimes really difficult. And the community has taken that message  to heart. They support each other, they reach out to each other when they are struggling. They share messages from the band to motivate them through hard times. So I don’t think of this fandom as something that is  superficial it’s actually very deep and emotionally very meaningful.”

The band’s heavy reliance on messages of non-conformity and self-esteem certainly seems to resonate with many Australians.

Report by Dubravka Voloder

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