K-Pop craze sparks love for Korean language

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The teenage craze of K-Pop has sparked a new love of the Korean language and culture at St Dominic’s Catholic College in Henderson.

A group of senior students meets every Friday after school to learn the Korean language. Classmates Epenisa Vakalani and Aleigha Bryce help to make up 40 per cent of the Pasifika students in the class.

“It was K-Pop and K-Drama that got me interested in the Korean culture and I wanted to learn the language to understand it,” Epenisa said.

“I don’t mind giving up my Fridays for it. I actually look forward to it all week.”

Epenisa, who is Tongan, says she started teaching herself the Korean language last year when she became interested in the South Korean music genre.

“It’s different to any other entertainment I know. It’s not like Samoan, Tongan or Kiwi. The drama is kind of like the Japanese anime and the music is fun and different,” she said.

Students can gain some NCEA credits in the extracurricular class. It is offered in addition to students’ other studies. Teacher Helen Kim said she knows of three other schools in Auckland that offer after-school Korean classes.

“Many students want to learn the language because of K-Pop. There is a slow growing interest in the language and culture,” she said.

“South Korea doesn’t have the financial backing like China does to promote its country and it is K-Pop and social media helping put the country on the world map.”

Ms Kim, who also teaches religious education, music, and Chinese was born in Seoul and moved to New Zealand as a teenager. Growing up she spoke Korean in her family home.

St Dominic’s College also offers Maori, Japanese, Spanish, French and Mandarin classes. K-Pop is rapidly growing in popularity in New Zealand. K-pop, an abbreviation for Korean pop, is known as Hangul.

The music genre draws on a range of Western styles and traditional South Korean rock music. The popular Gangnam Style song is the most well-known K-pop song in Western culture.

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