Korean netizens criticized the 2021 MAMA for overusing English despite being a Korean awards ceremony

Korean audiences are criticizing the 2021 MAMA for overusing English.

2021 MAMA
2021 MAMA
2021 MAMA

Mnet’s 2021 MAMA (2021 Mnet ASIAN MUSIC AWARDS) was held in December 11th.

MAMA started as Mnet’s Video Music Awards in 1999. It has been held under the name MAMA since 2009 and boasted a long history. MAMA was the first 20210 KPOP award ceremony to be held in Macau for the first time. In 2017, it was held simultaneously in 3 Asian regions, proving it to be a global music festival. Therefore, MAMA named itself the ‘World’s No.1 KPOP Music Awards’.

Although the awards ceremony has shown extraordinary motivation to introduce KPOP to the global stage, the fact that the 2021 MAMA was pointed out to have overused English is inevitable, causing netizens to frown.

Despite being a Korean awards ceremony targeting KPOP, all nominee introduction videos were shown in English. Even songs with Korean titles and the narration of the nominee introductions were written in English.

When awards presenters, such as Lee Jung-jae, Song Joong-ki, Uhm Jung-hwa, Rain, Jo Jung-suk, Han Ye-ri, Yeo Jin-goo, Heo Sung-tae, Choi Soo-young, Tiffany, Ha Ha, and Noh Hong-chul, appeared, English introductions were used all the time. This had caused a “funny but sad” situation when Korean viewers did not know exactly how they introduced the presenters.


The same goes for the names of awards. Brave Girls, who became an iconic group that climbed back on charts when on the verge of disbandment, won an award named “KTO BREAKOUT ARTIST”. In addition, there was even a situation when Korean audiences did not immediately understand what exactly were the awards that artists won because of the awards’ names, such as Best Composer of the Year, Best Music Video Director of the Year, Best Choreographer of the Year, which were shown in Korean but with English spellings.

It is understandable that they use English to some extent to allow more people to access it since this awards ceremony also targets overseas K-pop fans. However, it is pointed out that English should have been used appropriately as subtitles. Netizens are expressing their discomfort, saying, “The four main awards were the most serious,” at the fact that English was overused to the extent that they couldn’t even feel the 2021 MAMA with its identity as a Korean Awards.

KPOP gained worldwide popularity because it did not consciously target overseas markets. Instead, KPOP artists showed their own colors that can be loved by Korean music fans, and that is the result of bringing KPOP’s unique charm to approach overseas fans. This is also why Korean songs of KPOP singers, including BTS, were able to rank high on the Billboard Chart.

Squid game Parasite

In addition to KPOP, Korean content, such as Netflix’s series ‘Squid Game and movie ‘Parasite’ were loved a lot in overseas markets, only based on the “Korean attraction”. The move of marking products exported to overseas markets as Korean nouns is also accelerating. For example, “mandu” and “ramyeon” should be used instead of “dumpling” and “ramen”.

It is highly appreciated that MAMA has been striving and investing in various fields to promote KPOP overseas. On the same day, a video showing ITZY with Incheon tourist attractions and Brave Girls with Jeju Island tourist attractions was shown to introduce travel destinations in Korea to overseas KPOP fans. The overuse of English, which has tarnished its own efforts, still leaves great regrets in audiences.

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