Squid Game, released on September 17, 2021, was watched by some 111 million households around the world only 28 days after its release, beating Bridgerton with about 82 million. In the thriller drama series, Lee played the head staff member who oversees the competition of deadly games.
The Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) said on Twitter that Lee will headline the conference called "The Future of Hallyu: Korean Cinema on the Global Stage." In the event set to be held on April 19, a UCLA professor with expertise in Asian languages and culture and a communication professor at Texas A&M will participate to present their thoughts on the Korean cultural wave.
Park Ji-eun, a screenwriter for a 2019 drama called "Crash Landing on You," will also take part in the conference as its headliner. The drama, which depicted a forbidden love story in North Korea between a South Korean lady and a North Korean military officer, gained explosive popularity among drama lovers in South Korea, China, Japan, and Vietnam. The show starring popular actor Hyun Bin and actress Son Ye-jin was at the top of Japan's drama rankings for many weeks.
Thanks to K-content's rising popularity, the number of Korean language learners has also steadily increased. According to data released by state-run King Sejong Institute, the number of foreigners learning to speak Korean through the institute's online classroom platform reached 61,337 in January 2023, up 7.7 percent from a year ago. English speakers accounted for the largest portion with 11,683. The King Sejong Institute, launched in 2007 to popularize the Korean language to meet growing demands from Korean learners all over the world, had 234 centers in 82 countries as of June 2021.
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