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Oxford English Dictionary Gets ‘Update K’ and Adds 20 New Words

The Oxford English Dictionary has become the latest piece of Western culture to be affected by the “Korean wave”.

The definitive English language document announced that in response to the growing popularity of some South Korean cultural exports, more than 20 new words of Korean origin have been added to its pages.

“K-pop, K-drama, K-beauty, K-food, K-style – these days everything seems to be prefixed with a K- as South Korean popular culture continues to gain international popularity.” , wrote the OED. in a recent blog post regarding its September update.

“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.

The new K-related word bundle includes entries for mukbang, “a video featuring a person eating a large amount of food and speaking to the audience,” the manhwa comic genre, and the traditional Korean hanbok. There are also a wide variety of new food listings, including the word for small side dishes, banchan; bulgogi, “a dish of thin slices of beef or pork that are marinated and then grilled or sautéed”; and the kimbap sushi roll-shaped rice dish.

The oldest K-word in the OED, the blog post notes, is “Korean” and was originally added in a 1933 dictionary supplement. It wasn’t until 2016 that “K-pop” was added to the document, and it was actually preceded in OED by the addition of “trot,” an older genre of Korean music that originated in the early days. 1900s.

The fact that the newly added words are already well known to many in the English-speaking world indicates a significant shift in modern linguistics, OED notes. That Korean words be adopted into the English language demonstrates “how lexical innovation is no longer confined to traditional English centers in the UK and US – they show how Asians in different parts of the continent are inventing and exchange words within their own local contexts, then introduce those words to the rest of the English-speaking world, allowing the Korean wave to continue to ripple on the sea of ​​English words.

K-pop group Blackpink performs at Coachella in 2019.
Getty Images for Coachella