English in Korean Advertising: An Exploratory Study

John P. Holmquist, Brian Andrew Cudmore


The use of English language names, titles, and catchphrases are often presented in advertisements that do not
necessarily target English-reading clientele in South Korea. This paper explores the functionality and
characteristics of English text found in Korean promotion. This was a multistep exploratory study of the use and
acceptance of English in Korean advertisements. First, various Korean media sources were scrutinized to
determine the percentage of promotions that exhibited English and how it was utilized. Second, a survey
regarding the acceptance and perception of English in these promotions by the Korean consumer was conducted.
Third, a vocabulary test of the most common English descriptive words utilized in Korean magazine
advertisements was given to Korean business students. It was determined that 59.5% of the advertisements
contained English words. The survey revealed evidence that English in Korean promotions is well received with
the majority agreeing that the English language is novel or exoticness. The twenty most commonly found
English words presented in Korean magazine advertisements were only understood 58.5 % of the time by the
business college students surveyed. This study shows that international and native Korean firms are having
success in the Korean market by using marketing that integrates English has a means to show style and appeal to
the Korean customers. The findings suggest that the Korean consumer finds the use of English to be appealing
regardless of their comprehension of the language itself.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/ijms.v5n3p94

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