Naver has released their year-end review of top searches (2015 검색어 결산). As I did with Google's year-end Korea list and Facebok's year-end Korea list, I've translated them all for you, and included some brief commentary to catch you up. As always, commentary is based on the pooled knowledge of me, my friends, and my coworkers, so if you notice any errors, please let me know.
These come straight from Naver, so they're likely a more accurate picture of what Koreans were really searching this year than with the Google results. Of course, take that with a grain of salt, as Naver does have a bit of a history with editorially choosing topics to 'disappear'. Thus you'll notice no mentions here of anything of a political nature. But you're not here for politics. You're here for end-of-the-year listicle fun!
So just sit back, relax, and let's review Korea's 2015 together. Enjoy.
Top Naver Searches for 2015(Note: If an entry appears on more than one list, I've just asterisked [*] any entries beyond the first one so as not to repeat the same information again and again.)
2015 전년대비 상승 검색어 - Overall Hottest Searches 2015
This list shows the hottest growth over the past year; not the overall most-searched-for items -- that's the next list. So think of this one as more of a "movers and shakers of 2015" list.
PC Desktop Searches
Korea suffered an outbreak of the virus this year, which took a bite out of tourism.
The Korean IRS (tax collection agency). I'm not sure why this reached #2 as a hottest mover. I'm going to just guess that it has to do with the growth of Koreans filing their taxes online, and/or people checking the status of their tax refunds, and/or the US requiring tax information from Korean banks, or the cut this year in the individual consumption tax, or bleed-over from last year's decision to change the way rental payments are taxed (HT to seoulrei), or all of these or none of these. Hey I'm no economist. Just a guy who loves making lists.
A price-comparison website, aggregating deals from across a variety of popular online shopping sites. No, "coocha" is not some PG-13 name for a part of the female body. It's a contraction of "coupon chart".
- 응답하라 1988
A Korean TV comedy-drama that came out late this year, and which I actually am really enjoying, and not just because it features Hyeri prancing around as an adorable jail-bait high-schooler. The third in the "Reply" series, which also featured a 1997 and a 1994 version, the series is a major throw-back to that specific time period. Costumes, locations, historical events, consumer goods, pop culture memes, you name it, the show goes to great lengths to be accurate down to the subtlest of details. This may be just my opinion, but the whole "Reply" series is a refreshing and fascinating look into "real" Korea and perfect TV watching for those who find most K-Dramas to be way too saccharine.
- 냉장고를 부탁해
Please Take Care of My Refrigerator
A cooking and variety show. A bit like "Celebrity Chopped". Famous chefs get 15 minutes to make a dish out of whatever ingredients are in the refrigerator that day, and a panel of guest judges determines the winner.
Kim Seoul-hyun, a member of the girls' group "AOA" and noted for her hourglass body shape. You may also know her as that super sexy full-size-body sticker girl who was plastered on the glass door of every single SK Telecom shop this year.
- 그녀는 예뻣다
She Was Pretty
Run-of-the-mill Korean romantic comedy drama.
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.
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.
A Naver Webtoon, popular for its criticism of Korea's "beauty oriented" society.
In February of this year, Korea was hit with the worst yellow dust pollution in five years.
- 그녀는 예뻣다
She Was Pretty*
- 냉장고를 부탁해
Please Take Care of My Refrigerator*
- 응답하라 1988
A Seoul UFC "Octagon girl"famous for her "well-endowed" body. She also had some bit parts in a few dramas this year.
2015 최다 검색어 - Overall Top Searches 2015
PC Desktop Searches
Daum, is Korea's #2 search portal after Naver. They made headlines by buying Kakao (makers of KakaoTalk) this year. I find it funny that people are Navering Daum.
Again, rather funny that people are Navering Google. But fascinating that Google made it to the #3 overall spot on Naver of all places. Imagine if "Bing" were the #3 spot on Google's list.
Coupang started as a "Groupon" clone but has since exploded into a full-fledged, Amazon-level online retailer in Korea. They're probably most famous for their incredibly speedy delivery thanks to their own logistics and fleet of delivery vehicles. They received a huge cash injection from a very wealthy Japanese entrepreneur this year.
Facebook finally became the most popular SNS for Koreans this year.
- 리그 오브 레전드
League of Legends (LOL)
The massively multiplayer online game is huge in Korea. In fact this article suggests that 40% of Koreans have played LOL, although I'd more likely suspect that that figure is a bit inflated from kids using their parents' IDs to access the game past midnight.
Numbers 7~9 on this list are likely just people Navering the name of their bank, too lazy to actually type the proper URL. I actually support that behavior, as it can be a small but effective protection against accidentally visiting a copycat phishing site.
KB Kookmin Bank
As in, people checking the winning lottery numbers.
The notorious Korean version of 4chan.
2015 월별 검색어 - Top Searches by Month
January - Kill Me, Heal Me
This K-drama, more soap opera really, began airing in January this year.
February - Son Ho-jun
This actor/singer was in Reply 1994 a few years ago, and was also one of the cast members of the popular reality series "Three Meals a Day" this year.
- 예원 이태임
March - Yewon, Lee Taeim
Member of the former girl group "Jewelry" Kim Yewon, and actress Lee Taeim. An argument between the two was recorded during the filming of a reality TV show, in which Lee Taeim calls Yewon a "fucking bitch" in Korean, which of course turned netizens against her. But it was later revealed that Yewon had been using ban-mal (lower speech) to Taeim, in addition to playing up her 'victim' card while Taemin accepted responsibility, thus leading netizens to reverse course and now dislike Yewon more.
April - Jang Dong-min
Mr. Jang was the likely replacement for Korea's powerhouse TV show "Infinite Challenge" when a cast position opened-up following one member's departure after getting a DUI. This was an interesting situation because the replacement was to be chosen by audience vote, but prior to the decision a feminist online community revealed recording of Mr. Jang from a radio show a few years earlier in which he made some very unsavory comments about women generally and especially women who engage in sex before marriage. Needless to say, audience reaction turned sour and Mr. Jang was not chosen.
May - MERS
- 유상무 잘생겼다
June - "Yoo Sungmu is handsome"
This is without a doubt my favorite thing on Naver's entire list. Mr. Yoo is a famous Korean comedian who also owns a Patbingsu restaurant. As part of a promotion, if you were to search the phrase "Yoo Sungmoo is handsome" while logged-in, your results would include (geez how can I say this in simple, proper English? I've been here too long) the number of the person you are that searched that phrase, like "Congratulations, you're the 46,482nd person to search this!" and if your number happened to be one of Mr. Yoo's favorite numbers (or combination/rearrangement of his numbers), then you would win vouchers to his restaurant. Not only a sales promotion, but this was billed as a celebration of his birthday.
By coincidence, Mr. Yoo was also one of the men doing sexist jokes along with Mr Jang from our April entry. That they both ended up on this list here is appropriate.
- 오 나의 귀신님
July - Oh My Ghostess
A K-drama featuring Park Bo-young, aka the girl from the movie Werewolf Boy (늑대소년)
August - Another K-drama. All I know about it is that it had the forever-classy 김태희.
September - New Journey to the West
A web-exclusive television show, made by tvN but only found on Naver TVcast, produced by 나영석, the same legendary producer of hits like "Three Meals a Day"(삼시세끼), "One Night Two Days" (1박2일) and the "꽃보다..." series. The funny thing here is that every single star on this show is a total A-list, top famous celebrity (like Kang Ho-dong, MC Mong, Lee Seungi, etc.), but each for their own reason have wound up banned from broadcast television, either for legal or moral reasons. Therefor the producer rounded up this misfit band for a web-only show that has proved very popular. Also funny is that the title actually refers to a famous Ming Chinese fable in which the main characters, a group of misfit animals led by a monk, go in search of redemptive nirvana. Very appropriate.
- 그녀는 예뻤다
October - She Was Beautiful*
- 응답하라 1988
November - Reply 1988*
2015 분야별 검색어 - Top Searches by Category
- 인물 - 설현
Person - Seolhyun*
- 시사 메르스
Current Issue - MERS*
- 예능 무한도전
Entertainment - Infinite Challange
- 드라마 그녀는 예뻤다
Drama - She Was Beautiful*
- 영화 암살
Film - Assassination
Korean movie 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.
- 음막 레옹
Music - Leon
Every year, the cast of Infinite Challenge do a special concert in which they team up with a singer to perform usually a duet. This year, comedian Park Myungsu did it with singer IU, calling themselves "이유갓지 않은 이유" (it's a pun, but I'm too tired to explain it). The song was supposedly by IU and called "Leon" But oops! It didn't take long for plagerism accuzations to hit IU. Supposedly she ripped it off from a song called "Open Up Your Heart" by Labelle. Compare for yourself here.
- 스포츠 프로야구
Sports - Professional baseball
- 책 미움받을 용기
Books - Courage To Be Disliked
A philosophically-tinged book by Japanese author Kishimi Ichiro, translated into Korean and became a best-seller this year. The Korea Times did an English-language piece on it here.
- V스타 빅뱅
Naver V - Big Bang
Naver V is Naver's K-pop focused online video portal. See some of my Naver V related posts under my Naver label.
- TV캐스트 복면가왕
Naver TVcast - Masked Singer*
- 웹드라마 우리 옆집에 엑소가 산다
Web Drama - EXO Next Door
It's getting late and I am not about to start talking about EXO.
- 웹툰 외모지상주의
Web Toon - Beauty-Oriented Society*
And there you have it. I've also got my 2015 Top Google Searches for Korea post or my 2015 Top Facebook keywords for Korea post if you gotta have more lists. As always, thanks for reading.