Top Naver searches in Korea for 2017

Naver has released their list of Top Search Terms for 2017 (2017년 네이버 최다 검색어 순위). Because Naver is the dominant search engine in Korea, it gives you a decent idea of what issues (and daily lifestyle items) were popular in South Korea in 2017.

I've gone through and reprinted them in an easier to read format, translated them to English, and offered explanations and commentary, including links to further English-language news where available. Hopefully my commentary gives you some laughs and a good sense of what real Koreans were really searching on real Naver during 2017. 

Naver Top Rising Search Terms 2017

These are the search terms that dramatically rose in popularity this year. Not only does this better reflect the 2017 year, but removes the junk searches that would otherwise dominate (like searches for "weather" or "news" etc.)

  1. 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.
  2. 리니지m
    Lineage M

    Mobile version release of a popular fantasy MMORPG game. Bit like Starcraft but with knights in armor or something. It racked up massive profits for its parent company NCSoft.
  3. 프로듀스101시즌2
    Produce 101 Season 2

    Popular music reality competition show on Mnet channel. Season 1 featured all female contestants and gave rise to I.O.I. (clever play on 101). But this year it was the boys' turn, with the final group denoted as "Wanna One" (even cleverer play on 101). Kang Daniel who features elsewhere on this list was a member.
  4. 도깨비

    Highly popular (both domestic and internationally) TV drama about 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 and who happens to live with the Grim Reaper. You know, typical K-Drama drama. Aside from the heart-throb romance of Gong Yoo this show was responsible for a huge boom in Koreans' interest in Quebec.
  5. 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.
  6. 강다니엘
    Kang Daniel

    Member of the Produce 101 spinoff group "Wanna One" and explosive heart-throb. Imagine the perfect K-pop boy band member look of the 2017 era, and you'll picture him. Arguably the most popular contestant and member, his real name was apparently Kang Ui-geun but for stardom he went with his baptismal name Daniel. It payed off. Even the US Embassy tweeted support for him.
  7. 언니는살아있다
    Band of Sisters (literally "Older Sister Still Lives!")

    Makjang (melodramatic and over-the-top) drama. Women dealing with the hard issues of being women in a cruel world. Honestly I never saw a single episode. Not my thing. But it was so massively popular among certain demographics that SBS scrapped the original plan of a 40 episode run and pumped it up to 68. They had to run 2 episodes in a row on Saturdays just to satisfy viewers. Check the K-drama sites for more details (here, here). Featured Sistar ("Touch My Body" group) member Dasom looking good.
  8. 쌈마이웨이
    Fight for My Way
    (from contracted 싸움 "fight/conflict" and Koreanization of "my way")
    Romantic comedy drama that tried to be funny but in awkward ways (think fart jokes and other "realism" moments). Tried so hard to break the makjang mold that it became literally just a try-hard drama. So my buddy says. More geared towards the 20 somethings. Good to see Reply 1988's Ahn Jae-Hong still getting roles. Always thought he was underappreciated. Also featured Kim Jiwon from last year's smash hit Descendants of the Sun.
  9. 아이유

    Perennially popular singer IU was back this year with a new album which featured several collaborations with well known singers, and which won "Album of the Year" at the Melon music awards. Her music video for the song "Pallete" reached #3 of YouTube's Most Popular videos for Korea this year.
  10. 워너원
    Wanna One

    The K-pop boy group formed by the finalists of this year's season of Produce 101. Kang Daniel (who made the top search term list) was a member.
  11. 안철수
    Ahn Cheol Soo

    Entrepreneur-doctor-politician Ahn threw his hat in the ring again during this year's presidential election to replace ousted Park Geun-Hye, but lost to Moon Jae-in. Although he started strong, his performance in the debates floundered as he failed to toe the line between sounding strong and sounding childish. Interesting not a lot in English mentions that opinion. Maybe I'm surrounded by too many conservatives. He founded and led the "People's Party" which is now about to fracture.  Though I'll most remember him this year for him and Trump being school chums.
  12. 아이폰8
    iPhone 8

    The device sold well but not spectacularly in Korea this year. It was priced around 950,000 won.
  13. 아버지가이상해
    Father is Strange

    KBS2 drama about family. Basic K-drama. Just go to Soompi because I don't watch these kinds of things. See here, here, here. Featured the "Korean Meryl Streep" Kim Hae-sook who while definitely getting up there in age is still a powerhouse actress appearing in more shows than I can count. Also had boyband MBLAQ member Lee Joon.
  14. 류현진
    Hyun-jin Ryu

    Korean baseball pitcher currently with the LA Dodgers. Had a decent season. His contract expires next year so it will be interesting to see where he goes from there. I don't follow baseball much so I'm not the guy to comment about Ryu.
  15. 군함도
    Battleship Island

    Blockbuster historically-based movie about the Koreans forced into labor by the Japanese during WWII in the mining camp island that you probably noticed as the bad guy's island fortress in Skyfall. Directed by Ryoo Seung-wan who also did the fantastic "Veteran" (👍 from me, great flick). Featured another former "Descendants of the Sun" star Song Joong-ki. Also had Hwang Jung-min from Veteran and multiple other recent blockbusters. I didn't see this one sadly. Got plenty of international English press (here, here, here, here).
  16. 빗썸

    Popular Korean cryptocurrency exchange, dealing in bitcoin and various other cryptocurrencies. One of the "big 4" in Korea along with Korbit, Coinone, and UPbit. Oh yeah, and they were massively hacked. Oops. Sidenote: I don't get the whole bitcoin speculation excitement. I know guys who are throwing away savings or going into debt to run mining rigs, because "free money!" I'm sure some guys are getting rich off of this, but all I see are zombies who are so sure about this it feels like they're pitching me a timeshare in the Bahamas. Keep your nose down and your wallet in your pocket, I say.
  17. 피고인
    The Defendant

    Thriller drama from SBS that was apparently so popular it reached nearly 30% viewership. Had a good twisty plot but I didn't see it.
  18. 갤럭시s8
    Galaxy S8

    The Samsung smartphone was released this year. Apparently Korean buyers could get a DeX dock along with it, which aims to let you dock the phone into a monitor/keyboard set-up and basically use it as your main computing device in addition to being able to carry it in your pocket. I'm curious, but after trying a Chromebook, I'm convinced full desktop/laptop OSes are going to stick around awhile more.
  19. 북한
    North Korea

    There was plenty to be terrified and fascinated about this year regarding North Korea. From their threat to nuke Guam and the resulting issuance of "what to do in the event of an attack" brochures to the amazing story of the defector who risked it all for Chocopies and K-pop girls. He apparently said literally "여기가 남쪽이 맞느냐. 남한 노래가 듣고 싶다" ("This is the south, right? I wanna hear some South Korean songs" but of course he calls SK "남한").
  20. 초미세먼지
    Ultra-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.

Naver 2017 Top Search Terms by Month

  1. January - 도깨비

    (TV drama from above)
  2. February - 피고인
    (TV drama from above)
  3. March - 박근혜
    Park Geun Hye

    Her impeachment appeal was rejected in March and she was sent back to prison.
  4. April - 북한
    North Korea

    They conducted another missile test in April
  5. May - 프로듀스101시즌2
    Produce 101 Season 2

    (TV reality music competition from above)
  6. June - 탑

    The Big Bang member was caught smoking marijuana and lightly sentenced. The girl he was lighting up with, an armcandy K-pop "trainee" named Han Seo Hee, was subsequently catapulted to Instagram stardom where somehow her opinions on feminism are popular tabloid fodder.
  7. July - 아이돌성폭행
    Idol rape

    A woman came forward with allegations of rape while drinking with a certain member of a popular K-pop boyband. This was a twisted story where drinking all night led to sleeping with one guy, while waking up next to another guy. This broke in July to much sensation but eventually the case was repealed. Obviously online debate raged about the woman's sexual promiscuity and the rape culture and all those juicy battle of the genders issues. Rumors spread that the member was from Infinite but you know me, I'm not going to spread that nonsense by repeating it here. Viral stories like this always make it hard to know what was fact and what was rumor.
  8. August - 최준희
    Choi Juniel

    Daughter of tragic actress Choi Jin-shil. She was in the news this month after allegations that her grandmother, who raised her after the suicide of her mother, was abusive to her. Those allegations turned out to be false, but nonetheless she moved in with female comedian Lee Young-ja, who was one of her mother's closest friends. Juniel has aspirations of being a popular singer, but it hasn't quite worked out well. Although she's got a bit of a attention-seeking streak, you can hardly blame her, and most people don't. Seriously, go down the rabbit hole of just absolute tragedy after tragedy in that family, and you'll take pity on her too.
  9. September - 부산여중생폭행
    Busan middle school girls assult

    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.
  10. October - 김주혁
    Kim Joo-hyuk

    Actor who died in car crash (discussed above)
  11. November - 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.

Naver Top Mobile Searches 2017

This list is just pure raw accurate numbers. The most searched keywords period. So you'll notice the overwhelming majority are just basic queries ("weather" or "exchange rates" or "movies") which return Naver onebox results, or else just people trying to get to other sites (especially YouTube, but also, awkwardly, other portals like Google, Daum, or Nate... ouch, but to be fair I'm sure "Naver" makes up a huge portion of Korean Google searches too). Queries related to weather make up the bulk of mobile searching. Not surprising there.

  1. 날씨 - Weather
  2. 유튜브 - YouTube
  3. 페이스북 - Facebook
  4. 로또 - Lotto (sales apparently reached 13-year high)
  5. 구굴 - Google
  6. 전국날씨 - Nationwide weather
  7. 미세먼지 - Fine dust
  8. 다음 - Daum
  9. 길찾기 - Directions
  10. 환율 - Currency exchange rates
  11. 오늘의 운세 - Today's fortune/horoscope
  12. 그것이알고싶다 - "I Want to Know About That" but for some reason called "The Its Know" or "We Want To Know The Truth" in English. A TV show that looks at politics, society, etc. This show is amazing mainly for the dramatic format and the way nearly any topic starts to feel like a mysterious conspiracy theory. Think Dateline meets Unsolved Mysteries. It airs Saturdays at 11pm which should tell you something right there. Some of their investigations are informative and interesting, especially this year with various political and sex scandals. I'm not sure which precisely triggered this massive search ranking. Any readers, feel free to chime in on this one. 
  13. 영화 - Movies
  14. 오늘날씨 - Today's weather
  15. 네이트판 - Nate Pan
  16. 이시각 전국날씨 - Current weather
  17. 네이트 - Nate
  18. 웹툰 - webtoons
  19. 지마켓 - G-Market
  20. 김주혁 - Kim Joo-hyuk (discussed above)

Naver Top Desktop/PC Searches 2017

Like the list above, this is just raw numbers here. You'll notice most searches are just people trying to get to other sites.

You may be thinking, "Why don't Koreans just type the URL? They are so lazy" in which case I would say that, for one, just typing 유튜브 into Naver (which already loaded in your new tab page anyway) is easier and faster than switching the keyboard to English and typing "". But secondly, it also has the fringe benefit of reducing phishing, since you're more likely to make a typo or spelling mistake when typing the URL of a site that could lead you to a copycat site whereas searching it, even if you made a quick error, likely the correct legitimate site would be the top result. Hell I still Google "wells fargo" instead of trusting my browser history. Plus, you'll notice that's precisely why YouTube snagged both the #1 and #18 spots here (#18 is a common misspelling).

  1. 유튜브 - YouTube
  2. 다음 - Daum
  3. 구글 - Google
  4. 페이스북 - Facebook
  5. 농협인터넷뱅킹 - Nonghyup Internet Banking
  6. 환율 - Currency exchange rate
  7. 국민은행 - Kookmin Bank
  8. 쿠팡 - Coupang (shopping site)
  9. 롤인벤 - "League of Legends Inven" ( - Koreans are the best at contractions)
  10. 우리은행 - Woori Bank
  11. 신한은행 - Shinhan Bank
  12. 사람인 - Saramin (job search site)
  13. 11번가 - 11 Street (shopping site)
  14. 아프리카티비 - Afreeca TV (streaming video site, popular with BJs, mukbang, etc)
  15. 국민은행인터넷뱅킹 - Kookmin Internet Banking
  16. 멜론 - Melon (music streaming site)
  17. 옥션 - Auction (shopping site)
  18. 유투브 - YouTube
  19. 날씨 - Weather
  20. 위메프 - We Make Price (shopping site)

And that rounds out another year. You can also check out the corresponding lists for this year:

Or compare with Naver search results from prior years:

Hope you had a good year folks.