It's that time of year. Google Trends has released their top search lists for 2015, and the results are divided up by country and topic. You can see them in Korean here, but I've gone ahead and translated them for you with a tiny bit of personal commentary. Everything I've written has come from either my own knowledge or that of my friends and coworkers, so if you do notice any errors, please let me know. Also, remember that Naver dominates "real" Korean internet searches, so take these Google results with a grain of salt. See my other post for the corresponding Naver top searches for 2015 and also Facebook's top 10 in Korea for 2015.
Now sit back, relax, and let's review Korea's 2015 together. Enjoy.
Now sit back, relax, and let's review Korea's 2015 together. Enjoy.
Top Google Searches in Korea, 2015
종합 - Overall
Virus outbreak that hit Korea and its tourism hard this year
- 나무 위키
basically a Korean Wikipedia
- 워터파크 몰카
Waterpark Hidden Camera
this year a woman was hired by some shady guys to stroll around the women's locker room at a Korean waterpark, recording the showering and changing women with a small hidden camera
the movie was a surprise hit in Korea, and I guess everywhere else too
a very popular Korean movie released this year, about a detective investigating a megacorp's rich kid
IT기기 - Tech
- 갤럭시 S6
Samsung's flagship phone, released in April this year. So were all these other products.
- 아이폰 6s
Anyone ever notice the 6S and the S6 were released together?
- 갤럭시 노트 5
Galaxy Note 5
- LG V10
- 애플 워치
TV 프로그램 - TV
Most of these are just K-dramas. I don't watch this genre so I don't know much about them. By the way, AllKpop has listings from #1~10 for the TV and music categories.
- 그녀는 예뻤다
She was Pretty
I'm a bit surprised that this hit the #1 spot, since I have no idea what this show is and have never heard of it. Maybe I'm in the wrong demographic.
This drama featured IU, basically being IU, although apparently a lot of people would disagree with that second clause. Also features 김수현, currently one of the most popular male actors in Korea.
This was actually a mildly interesting singing competition show, where famous and not-so-famous singers compete but their identities are secret until they're eliminated. The best parts were the upsets when the original singers of a song scored less than the imitators.
Friends spoke highly about this show, but I never saw it. Forever-classy 김태희 is here.
- 오 나의 귀신님
Oh My Ghostess
This one featured Park Bo-young, aka the girl from the movie Werewolf Boy (늑대소년)
게임 - Gaming
Here's another category I don't know much about.
- 메이플 스토리 2
Maple Story 2
aka THE GAME THAT NEVER DIES. Seriously, that people are still playing this is amazing. 2003~2015, that's twelve solid years of adorable characters and scenery.
some kind of weird bubble-eating game? The NZ Herald has a brief explainer. Never heard of it. I'm getting too old for this I guess.
- 파이널 판타지
I think they're probably talking about the FF 14 online version.
경제 - Economy
Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
China's version of the World Bank. Korea eventually decided to join this year, to the chagrin of the US.
- 국제 유가
International oil prices
Check out the huge dive in 2015 in this image. Not a good sign for Korea, which has been investing heavily lately in oil infrastructure like refineries.
The US-led trade pact, trying to contain China's influence over international trade practices. Korea has spent nearly the entire year either carefully weighing the pros and cons, or hand wringing, depending on your point of view, over whether to join or not. Stay tuned.
The confluence of the finance and the technology sectors. This was an especially popular buzzword this year with news like the relaxing of regulations for online-based banks, app-based payment systems like Naver Pay and Samsung Pay, and Kakao getting into the banking sector with services like Bank Wallet.
Not a great year for Korea overall. Lower demand abroad, continued high household debt. Ouch.
국제뉴스 - International News
Korea's preferred moniker for ISIS. You may remember that this was the year a Korean teenage boy joined ISIS and then later was apparently killed in a counterattack.
- 파리 테러
Of course, the Paris terror attacks of November
Aka, "Greek Exit" from the Eurozone. Don't laugh. I remember seeing it called this on CNN and thinking "Good lord... that Konglish habit of contracting anything/everything to two initial syllabus has gone full circle, back into English."
- 중국 열병식
Chinese Military Parade
China went all-out this year celebrating the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in WWII. I always wonder why China-US ties aren't warmer, given how much both sides were happy to have a defeated Japan. Yeah yeah, the whole communism thing, but still.
- 네팔 지진
Nepal earthquake, of April this year
기업 - Business
The owner of this chaebol committed suicide this year after his involvement in a bribery scandal. Famously, his body was found with a list in his pocket, a "tell all" list of names of big-shots who he had (we're just speculating of course, please don't sue me) given money to.
This pharmaceutical company donated a billion dollars' worth of drugs to North Korea this year. They also just so happened to be the best performing stock of 2015.
- 다음 카카오
The two major internet players merged this year. Daum, Korea's #2 search/portal, and Kakao, Korea's #1 messaging platform. This year also saw the release of some of their new services like KakaoTaxi.
I'm combining numbers 4 and 5 here because I suspect they take-up these spots due to their merger in 2015. There are, I think, 3 things to consider here: (1) The companies were already heavily affiliated. I think of this one as Samsung finally marrying their long-term cohabiting girlfriend. (2) The merger as a means of Samsung "beefing up" in order to prevent a stock take-over from the US-based Elliott Management Corporation, famous for their "buy up and break up" approach. (3) The merger prompted a reorganization putting Samsung's heir 이재용, son of이건희 and grandson of Samsung's founder, basically in-charge.
사회 - Society
- 나무 위키
Namu Wiki (see above)
"Masturbation Control Law"
A nickname for a new law this year (전기통신사업법 시행령), cracking down on major P2P uploaders of porn. It also had a weird detail of requiring underage internet users to install special porn-blocking software, which will automatically alert parents if the student tries to delete the app. Needless to say, this law was the butt of many online jokes and commentaries.
"Kim Young-ran Law"
A nickname for a law (부정청탁 및 금품등 수수의 금지에 관한 법률), that was passed this year cracking-down on bribery. Though specifically targeting government officers, it all but includes teachers in its definition, leading to some comedy about the limit of gifting that can now be done for teachers.
This is a weird one. "Megalian" is an off-shoot of DC Inside (a Korean site that's sort of 50% 4chan and 50% Reddit). During the MERS crisis this year, a MERS Gallery (메르스 갤러리) board opened to discuss the MERS issue, but somehow the topic degraded into being about how terrible Korean men are, how ineffective Korean men are at sex, earning money, etc. The presumably women users (but who can be sure on the Internet) became known as MERS-gallery-ians, or Megalians, and the term now refers to a sort of uber-Kimchi-girl.
UPDATE 2016-01: Koreabang has done a nice English-language overview of Megalia.
소비재 - Consumer Goods
Honey Butter Chips
This year's surprise viral "gotta have it" item was definitely Honey Butter Chips, which spawned an entire Honey Butter craze that even McDonalds got in on.
This year, milder soju brands, with slightly less alcohol and added fruity flavors like blueberry, tangerine, and pomegranate became big hits during the summer.
A Korean brand of casual footwear popular among youth. This year they struck a deal to become the official "casual" shoe of Manchester United.
A Korean traditional foods buffet-style restaurant franchise, focusing on healthy, natural, raw ingredients. This type of restaurant became very popular this year, and many similar type "traditional/natural" buffet chains popped-up as a result.
Dunhill (cigarette brand)
Taxes on most cigarettes in Korea were highly raised as of 2014, and most of the price increases for consumers went into effect in 2015, with many brands now costing double.
영화 - Movies
Kingsman (Western movie)
Veteran (Korean movie: see above)
Assassination (Korean movie)
Film set during the Japanese colonial period, featuring both independence fighters and collaborators. It starred Jun Ji-hyun who you may know from every Korean TV commercial ever.
The Treacherous (Korean movie)
Film set during the Chosun dynasty, about a hedonistic king, and features many extreme scenes including both violent brutality and carnal lesbianism. Not recommended for Christmas day viewing with the family.
Twenty (Korean movie)
A coming-of-age movie about three friends who turn, you guessed it, 20. Stars Kim Woo-bin, one of the supposedly most handsome actors. I don't see it.
음악 - Music
I won't bother linking to them, but you can find all of these on YouTube.
- 위아래 (EXID)
"Up & Down" by EXID.
That sexy dance where the girls move, you guessed it, up and down, a lot. "We are eh, we we are eh." No surprise here that this reached #1. The video found its way to my playlist a, er, couple of times.
- 떨려요 (스텔라)
"Vibrato" by Sellar
- Ring My Bell (걸스데이)
"Ring My Bell" by Girls Day. A member of Girls Day, Hyeri, would star this year in the super-popular "Reply 1988" TV show, but I think the show came out too late in the year to really make a dent in the overall top yearly search rankings.
- 바램 (노사연)
"Wish" by Noh Sa-yeon
After a seven year absence from the music scene, this older singer released a new song of hers this year.
- 제제 (아이유)
"Zeze" by IU
I'm surprised this only made it to #5. This year "the nation's little sister" really grew-up, and found herself in a scandal over allegations that her song "Zeze," about a character in a children's book beloved by many Koreans, portrayed the character in a sexual or even pedophilic light. Because of many Korean's fond childhood memories of the book, many attacked her viciously online for purposefully trying to generate buzz and controversy. Others supported her artistic reinterpretation. Still others saw a deep personal metaphor for IUs own career status in the song.
자동차 - Automotive
I'm sorry, I don't know anything about cars at all, and can't be bothered to look-up why any of these might have been more popular than any others this year.
- 재규어 XE
조리법 - Recipes
- 백종원 레시피
Baek Jong-won recipes
Mr. Baek is a famous TV chef and entrepreneur with a chain of popular restaurants. His easy-going style and friendly demeanor, not to mention easy recipes with casual ingredients, have made his popularity soar recently.
- 매생이국 끓이는 법
Green algae soup cooking methods
Supposedly tastes like you're eating thin soft strands of hair, I wouldn't ever have called this a "popular" dish, though my informal survey of friends revealed a unanimous belief that it's a delicious soup. No idea why it was so popular this year though.
- 열무 김치 맛있게 담는 법
Yeolmu kimchi preparation method
- 백종원 만능간장
Baek Jong-won's all-purpose soybean sauce
- 파김치 맛있게 담는 법
Spring onion kimchi preparation method
키즈 - Kids
This is just a list of toys that were apparently popular this year.
An unholy combination of an animation series, trading card game, and transformer toys. They sure know what kids like.
- 요괴 워치
Some kind of Japanese animation/game, a watch that has monsters come out. So like a Pokeball you wear on your wrist? Gotcha.
- 파워레인저 다이노포스
Power Rangers: Dino Force
- 헬로 카봇
Transformers, but all the cars they turn into are Hyundai models. Smooth marketing, Hyundai.
- 마다가스카의 펭귄
Penguins of Madagascar
A Dreamworks movie
Well, there you go. It's been an interesting year.