The use of English in Korean TV drama to signal a modern identity

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While code-switching is quite a common phenomenon, this paper seeks to investigate a common but underreported use of code-switching. In this paper, I focus on the use of code-switching from Korean to English in South Korean TV dramas. The paper first briefly discusses the literature on the connotations of English language in the Korean media and then proceeds to focus on code-switching using data sampled from three Korean TV dramas. The previous literature (e.g. Lee, 2006; Park, 2006, 2009) which discusses the use of the English language in the Korean media, argues that English carries connotations of modernity and power and this subsequently helps to construct a modern identity for Koreans. However, while Korean music, advertisements and comedies have been discussed with regard to their switches to English, there is little, if any research that focuses on switching to English in Korean TV dramas. The argument put forth in this paper is that switching to English in this context is often a means to reflect an identity of power for the characters and this subsequently might be a reflection of the power and dominance that the English language has in Korean society. In turn, this contributes to conclusions that a modern Korean identity of power derives from being proficient in English. © 2014 Cambridge University Press.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-60
Number of pages6
JournalEnglish Today
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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