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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

The Language Politics of “English Fever ” in South Korea

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2008, v.48 no.2, pp.136-159
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2008.48.2.136

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Abstract

While it has become trite to comment on the forces of global change, globalization is not simply about economy, technology or culture. When Appadurai defines globalization as a “tension between cultural homogenization and cul-tural heterogenization,” we can easily supplant “cultural” for “linguistic.” Today, English is increasingly established as a global lingua franca, and non-native English speakers such as Koreans are preoccupied with the English learning fever. The main claim of the paper is that the English fever should be seen neither as blind desire towards the glorious commodity of English nor as cheerful appropriation that nativizes the language of the Other. Instead, it is a phenomenon that is firmly grounded in local sociopolitical contexts, yet extends the global hegemony of English onto Korean society. Relevant to our account is the framework of postcolonialism. This paper shall examine the English fever in Korea as well as revisit the hegemony of English in the world.

keywords
language politics English fever globalization postcolonialism jaebeol (chaebol) Korean education

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