Top Google searches in Korea for 2017

Google has released their end-of-year top searches for South Korea. Here are a few of the lists rewritten in English with some of my own explanations in case you're unfamiliar with any of the topics. Hopefully it helps you get a sense of what was popular or newsworthy among Koreans in 2017, and why.

Overall Top Google searches in South Korea for 2017

  1. 너의 이름은
    Your Name

    Wildly popular Japanese anime movie. A sort of romantic time travel body-swap story that was actually pretty good, and I'm not usually a fan of this kind of stuff. The idea of "fate" was strong here. Look at me getting all old softy now.
  2. 도깨비

    Highly popular (both domestic and internationally) TV drama about... well the story is weird. A guy who is supposed to die, but because of love he can't yet, so he just lives for centuries with the sword (now ghostly) stuck in him until he hooks up with a high school girl who's really his bride, oh yeah and happens to live with the Grim Reaper... something like that. It's English name was apparently Guardian but nobody called it that. Aside from the heart-throb romance of Gong Yoo this show was responsible for a huge boom in Koreans' interest in Quebec. If you were a Korean female in her 20s in 2017, you at some point daydreamed about visiting (or living in) this part of Canada.
  3. 설리

    Former K-pop girl group member and current "actress" mostly known for her shenanigans on Instagram where she trolls for attention by posting "no bra" photos and poses with an assortment of other tabloid-popular idols and stars. Sulli was extra popular this year thanks to her nude scenes in the film "Real" (rated 19+) which appeared online [or here if you're feeling a little NSFW]. This is Korea we're talking about, so by "nude scenes" we mean topless plus some butt cheek and plenty of simulated sex. Sulli is a regular on these "most searched" lists.
  4. 어금니 아빠
    Molar Daddy

    This was just an awful news story this year. This was the affectionate public nickname for a certain man born with a deformed jaw, who received sympathy from public appearances and book deals and eventually received surgery to look pretty normal. He was also caring for his daughter who had inherited the condition. Aww, right? But get ready to turn that "aww" into "ehh" because it turned out Molar Daddy was blowing the charity money on cars, gambling, luxury items, hookers (lots and lots of hookers), and culminating in the rape and murder of one of his own daughter's underage friends. A real sicko. Plenty of details out there, like here and here.
  5. 리니지M
    Lineage M

    Some kind of mobile version release of a popular fantasy MMORPG game. I don't know. Looks like Starcraft but with knights in armor to me. I must be one of the few not playing it, because it's racked up massive profits for its parent company NCSoft. Unrelated to Lineage, but I have a guy in my office who bought and sold in-game items to build his collection, before his girlfriend convinced him he was spending too much time gaming and she'd leave if he didn't let up. So he sold his entire in-game collection of items, armor, etc. and made... ready for this?... nearly $2000 of real world money. Call me old fashioned, I just can't see myself paying for a virtual golden saber. I wouldn't even buy a real life saber.
  6. 문재인
    Moon Jae-in

    Current president of South Korea after winning a special election after the downfall of previous president Park Geun-hye. Moon was sworn-in in May of this year, marking the first liberal president since 2008.
  7. 범죄도시
    The Outlaws (or Crime City)

    Popular police thriller movie apparently based on real events where two gangs (one of native Koreans, one of Chinese-Koreans) clashed in Seoul. Featured one of 10원 Tip's favorite actors, Ma Dong-seok back in the sort of role he does best. I didn't see this so can't comment on it personally but it was very well liked by others. See the trailer here (Eng subs).
  8. 포켓몬 고
    Pokemon Go

    AR mobile game where you gotta catch em all. It had a massive flare-up of popularity again as the game was finally made fully functional throughout Korea (not just Seokcho) early this year. They tried re-promoting it a few months ago but I don't think it's got the same steam left in it and I predict this will be its last appearance on the lists.
  9. 김주혁
    Kim Joo-hyuk

    The "Hugh Grant" of Korea, Kim was a well-liked and warm-hearted actor and near constant fixture in movies and TV. Looks like a "dandy" but due to his goofy nature was the left in the "corner" (jokingly) on 1박 2일 where he was a regular. He tragically passed away this year in a car accident.
  10. 리얼

    The film where Sulli (#3 above) got nude. Some called this "the worst movie in Korean history" which is a shame as it featured actor Kim Soo-hyun who is well-liked and appeared in several highly pouplar and successful works from the very entertaining heist caper "The Thieves" to "Dream High," "Moon Embracing the Sun," and "My Love from the Star." Many fans felt pity for this train wreck which he himself seemed to echo. I didn't see it so can't comment.

국내 뉴스/이슈
Top domestic news/issue searches for Korea for 2017 

  1. 어금니 아빠
    Molar Daddy

    (repeat from above)
  2. 한샘

    Probably the #1 Korean-made furniture brand. They were caught in a scandal this year with the forced cover-up of a manager's rape of a new employee, in addition to a whole slew of other questionable employee treatment scandals. It exploded into a major issue in part due to the #MeToo movement. In less revolting news, Hanssem also opened a branch in Shanghai this year.
  3. 미세먼지
    Fine dust

    A few days this year were pretty bad for fine dust pollution. As usual, there was debate over how much is caused domestically vs. from China.
  4. 지진

    A surprisingly large earthquake struck near the city of Pohang this year, just days before the Korean CSAT test, causing it to be unprecedentedly delayed a week.
  5. 부산 여중생
    Busan middle school girls

    A viral news story about a group of female bullies who severely beat a classmate, sensationalized by CCTV footage that captured it and absolutely awful photos from the hospital of the victim's face. Plus some felt the case was bungled as the bullies were already known psychopaths basically. This case led to plenty of online debate about whether the removal of corporal punishment in Korean schools has contributed to this kind of out of control behavior.
  6. 경남 초등학교 여교사
    Gyeongnam elementary school female teacher

    Another viral salacious story. A female teacher had sex with her underage male student.  Released chat logs showed her urging him to come out to meet for sex by offering to buy him mandoo. What teen boy can resist the offer of free food? More wild is that they apparently had sex numerous times, the teacher is married with her own young children, and if rumors are to be believed, that she was a well-known flirt and very attractive. A coworker showed me an alleged photo of the teacher, and I agree the woman in the picture is an attractive teacher, but who knows if that photo was this woman. In these cases, the rabid desire for more information plus the eagerness of trolls to provide something makes falsehoods rampant.
  7. 수능 연기
    Suneung (Korean CSAT / college applications test) postponement 

    The week-long delay of Korea's once-a-year College Scholastic Ability Test, caused by the above mentioned Pohang earthquake. This was the only time the test has ever been delayed.
  8. 세월호

    The ferry that sank on its way to Jeju, taking the lives of hundreds of high school students, in what many consider the worst man-made disaster of recent times. At the time, President Park's handling of the situation was a source of immense criticism. But this was back in 2014. It was in the news again this year because finally, 3 years later, the ship was raised from the sea floor.
  9. 탄핵

    Although former President Park was impeached in December of 2016, her appeal trial continued well on into 2017, and in March the final unanimous verdict by the Supreme Court was handed down, and the "Strongman's Daughter" now resides in a small cell. If you ask me, Korea's better with her out of office, but I don't really see the point of keeping a frail old lady behind bars. With all she went through in her life, she deserves better. She never should have been made president in the first place. Enough politics from me.
  10. 인천 초등생 살인범
    Incheon elementary school student murder

    Another tragic viral story. A teen girl lured an 8 year old girl from her apartment complex into her apartment and brutally murdered her, dismembering the body and trying to hide it. She had a fellow teen female "accomplice" egging her on, and the two discussed in gory detail via text messages their plan to "hunt" a child and collect the fingers. Naturally this sick story was sensational, and rumors swirled that the two were lesbians in some sick sexual misdirection. Who knows. Both the killer and the accomplice received uncharacteristically harsh sentences from the court, though if you're from the US, 20 years won't seem harsh at all for this kind of thing. Plenty of write ups on this in English, like here, here, here, and here.

I was going to continue this list for all the categories, but I noticed over on Soompi they already did some of the others, including the celebrity list and offered some links. I don't know all the people on this list anyway.

The celebrity top 10 ranking is:
  1. Sulli
  2. Kim Joo Hyuk
  3. Kim Young Ae
  4. Kim Jung Min
  5. Gong Yoo
  6. Song Hye Kyo
  7. Kim Kwang Seok
  8. TWICE
  9. Lee Pa Ni
  10. Yoon So Jung
- [Google Korea Reveals Top Trending Keywords Of 2017 | Soompi]

Click the link above to see Soompi's full list including the Top Movie Searches and Top TV Program Searches.

And to be clear, these lists are adjusted for new and noteworthy searches, or as Google says: Lists are based on search terms that had a high spike in traffic in 2017 as compared to 2016. Which explains why terms like "weather" or "Naver" or "YouTube" aren't on the lists.

You can also enjoy this infographic that recaps the Top 3 in each category. 

Top Google searches in Korea for 2017 infographic. Image: Google

You can also read the Korea Herald's take on this list here:
🔗 Japanese movie ‘Your Name’ Korea’s top searched term on Google in 2017

And finally you can see the other lists for this year or prior years here:
10원 Tips: Years in Review

Wow, overall a pretty wild year with lots of story types I hope I don't see repeated on next year's list. Hope all your 2017s were better. Thanks for reading.