The K-pop way of learning Korean

Yoonhee Hong


Korean Pop also known as K-pop has been gaining popularity over the years. With the rise of social media platforms, people are introduced to news and subcultures from around the world. Not only does it promote awareness, but it is an opportunity to be part of a global community based on an interest. For instance, K-Pop used social media to gain recognition overseas by uploading their music videos on YouTube or having a social media account where K-Pop groups can interact with fans from all over the world.  As K-Pop became widespread through social media, people started to take interest in Korean culture and language and tried to educate themselves on Korean culture to get a better understanding of where K-Pop originated from. Thanks to growing technology, people are able to experience Korean culture and language through a screen. In the app store, there are a plethora of Korean language learning apps that cater to different types of people. With modern technology and interactions, people are able to take alternative routes to learning a language. For my thesis project, I plan to explore the appeal of K-Pop, the influence of K-Pop has in different aspects of Korean culture other than music, and the approach the K-Pop industry used to grow popularity globally. Based on my research, I plan to create an interactive Korean language app, INSSA, catered towards people interested in the Korean language, culture, and especially K-pop focusing on providing Korean lessons through K-pop content. INSSA is a popular Korean slang used to describe trendsetters, and INSSA in terms of my thesis carries the meaning of interacting with Korean culture in a trendy way, thus the “K-pop way of learning Korean.”

Thesis Advisors

Earl Gee: SJSU Graphic Design Professor

Yoon Chung Han: SJSU Graphic Design Professor

Peter Hong: Microsoft Project Manager

Research Questions

1. What is the appeal of K-pop among social media users?

2. What strategies did the K-Pop industry use to grow popularity overseas, specifically in the American music market?

3. How does K-pop influence people to be interested in the Korean language and culture?


IN·SSA is Korean slang for a trendsetter, but IN·SSA in terms of the app holds the meaning of the K-pop way of learning Korean. IN·SSA is a Korean culture app that is mainly used to learn everyday casual Korean with K-pop content. You can also learn more about different aspects of Korean culture and the latest trends in K-pop or even in Korea. With Korean lessons taught in a chat format with the emphasis on Korean pronunciation and typing on a Korean Keyboard, you can speak and type more naturally in Korean, and create a cultural learning opportunity in  a more modern setting. Through this app, people can learn more about Korean culture, and meet people from all over the world holding the same interests as you. With the plethora of K-pop content from groups featured on the app, you can even learn the correct pronunciation of the fanchant of your favorite K-pop song. New content is uploaded daily through the Quiz of the Day and the K-trendy articles to constantly keep you up to date with the latest trends happening in Korea. The concept of INSSA is to have fun learning a new language and culture. This app doesn’t only apply to Korean culture, but it can be applied to other languages and cultures. Being exposed to different cultures can help bridge the gap caused by language barrier and cultural differences, and expand people’s awareness of different cultures existing outside of popular culture within America.