How to build the largest Korean language community on the planet

Hyunwoo Sun is a Korean YouTube superstar and the best Korean language teacher in the world. Period. He and his incredible team have managed to build a community of over 90.000 enthusiastic Korean learners around the world. If you are interested in Korea and the Korean language there is no way not to find Hyunwoo Sun’s free lessons on http://talktomeinkorean.com. I invited him to this interview to share lessons on how to build an online audience from scratch.

More specifically, you will learn:

  • How Hyunwoo Sun was able to build a following of over 90.000 people around the world.
  • How Hyunwoo Sun would built an audience today.
  • How sharing personal fotos and stories on facebook can be helpful in building a stronger relationship with your audience.

About Hyunwoo Sun

image_3Hyunwoo Sun was born and raised in Korea. He graduated from Korea University where he majored in French and also studied Japanese. He has wide interests in learning foreign languages and his goal is to speak 10 languages fluently.  As an influential blogger and video blogger in Korea, he is also helping Korean people learn foreign languages more efficiently.

Hyunwoo is the CEO of G9 Languages, the company he created in 2009 to continue doing what  he loves doing: (1) teaching Korean and (2) providing useful and interesting foreign language learning material to the Korean market.
Hyunwoo is a regular host of EBS radio a radio station dedicated to educate their listeners in Language learning.  He is a lecturer on various subjects such as creating youtube videos, social media marketing and e-biz training, Twitter, Korean history and culture, and Korean language.
Hyunwoo’s passion is learning to speak foreign languages,B-boying (AKA “breakdancing”), Motivating people to realize their dreams, Teaching Korean, Traveling and speaking the local language, Sharing his experiences with the world through the medium of the Internet, discovering talent in people and photography.

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Raw Transcript

Hi! If you want to know how to create a largest Korean community with over 90,000 members in the world, stay with me.

Hello and welcome to howtobecomeaprofessor.com the web show to learn from proven professors and experts. I’m your host, Stephan, today we have one of my personal hero on the show, he’s name is Hyunwoo Sun, founder of TalkToMeInKorean.com the largest and most found Korean language community on the planet. Hyunwoo Sun was born and raised in Korea. He graduated from Korea University where he majored in French and also studied Japanese. He has wide interests in learning foreign languages and his goal is to speak 10 languages fluently. As an influencer blogger video blogger in Korea, He’s also helping Korean people learning foreign languages as more effectively and efficiently. Hyunwoo is the CEO of G9Languages, the company he created in 2009 to continue doing what he love doing. First, teaching Korean and second, providing useful and interesting foreign language learning material to the Korean market. Hyunwoo is a regular host of EBS radio, radio station dedicate to educate their listeners in language learning. He’s also a lecturer on various subjects such as creating YouTube videos, social media marketing, and EBS training, twitter, Korean history and culture and Korean language. Hyunwoo’s passion is learning to speak foreign languages, B-boying (AKA break dancing), motivating people to realize their dreams, teaching Korean, traveling and speaking the locale language, sharing his experiences with the world through the medium of the internet, discovering talent in people and photography.

Stephan: Hyunwoo Sun, thank you so much for taking your talent for this interview, I been following for quite a awhile already and you are one of the most amazing and creative online entrepreneurs out there.

Hyunwoo Sun: Well, I don’t believe I deserve all the nice (laughing) complements and such a nice introduction. But, thank you!

Stephan: Alrighty! So, first of all I’d like to ask you Hyunwoo please share with all our audience how did you get in to the language learning into the first place? I guess everything started with learning English in a Korean high school.

Hyunwoo Sun: That’s right! I was very bad at English at first. But, I had this encounter with a Canadian person, who came to Korea about 16-17years ago to teach English and she was a very qualified teacher, who has ready to help the Korean students who were in high school. And I happened to be the first Korean high school student that she met. And, you know I wanted to say something in English but, the only thing that came out in my mouth was Korean phrase which is “Annyeong Haseyo!” like a basic greeting. So I felt kind of ashamed, kind of angry at myself that I have taken 3years of classes in English, I mean, English classes of course in Korean but, I just could not say “Good afternoon! “ so, I decided to make better use of my time and I don’t know, start to learn to speak English. By just learning to read and maybe memorize words so that’s how I all got started. And I wanted to show to the teacher that, you know. I can actually, you know. Say something in English really simple start that gave me a huge motivation whenever I said something correctly in front of that teacher who I only met maybe 3times a week for about 5minutes each. I felt really happy ‘bout myself and life generally. So, I thought, I want to keep doing this, I want to keep getting this complements and you know, I continued doing that for about a year and a half or 2years, And then I found myself very comfortable in English and yeah, that’s how it started.

Stephan: Alright! And, I mean your English is almost perfect and…

Hyunwoo Sun: Thank you!

Stephan: you also, you also attended, I conducted some research on you, right? You’re, I mean your explanation is so humble and I might say you also participated at a nationwide competition, right?

Hyunwoo Sun: Yes, yes.

Stephan: For English and you won first prize.

Hyunwoo Sun: Uhuh

Stephan: And what was the reward for that?

Hyunwoo Sun: Actually the reward was going to be something bigger, something more grand which was a free trip to an English speaking country. But, that was, the contest happened in 1998 and 1997. Korea had to ask for an international bailout because of the bad economy, big recession so they had a huge cut in their budget so they couldn’t actually send us to, let’s say America or Australia or UK? And they, instead of sending the students from the different language fields to the respective countries where the language was spoken so that they could practice. They sent us, all of the award winners on one single trip altogether to Jeju Island on a domestic trip which was sort of disappointing for me because I have already been there with all my friends in high school. But, I made some good friends with whom may some of whom I still keep in touch with. So, yeah! (Laughing)

Stephan: Okay, that’s all. And which language are you now able to speak comfortably and fluently?

Hyunwoo Sun: I think I am comfortable in major, 4 languages, Korean, English, Japanese, and French. And with Spanish and Chinese, I wouldn’t call myself like really, really fluent. But, whenever I go to a country where those languages are spoken I can feel my own, and I can just do whatever I want to do.

Stephan: Okay.

Hyunwoo Sun: So, yeah!

Stephan: Okay, that’s awesome. Great!

Hyunwoo Sun: Thank you!
Stephan: Okay, let’s move on to the second part of our interview, everybody can see that you have a staggering following of over 90,000 friends on Facebook, almost 50,000 subscribers on YouTube and 3 million views on your YouTube videos. So, Hyunwoo Sun, how can you able to generate such as that following?

Hyunwoo Sun: Well, I didn’t really try to achieve that goal. But, I was just doing what I want it do what I needed to do and that just happened as consequence or a side results. So, I wouldn’t be able to actually explain  how that happened.

Stephan: Right!

Hyunwoo Sun: It’s just a result of sharing a lot of content. I guess?

Stephan: Okay, okay. I mean, okay. So, I mean if you’re looking back to the process, right, when, when did you start your, when did you start this online entrepreneurship thing?

Hyunwoo Sun: Okay, My first, like presences on the web or like anything I did for the first time on the web was in 2004.

Stephan: Right.

Hyunwoo Sun: I had always a big interest in making things online like websites, webpages and you know like when you put anything like some pictures and things like that. And in 2004, I saw, I read about this blogging service and blogging wasn’t a term that everybody was familiar with. So I just, you know want to give it a try and I started writing things there in my Korean blog and then I started getting subscription from other people. So, I thought it was interesting and I felt as usual motivation in sharing content or ideas or thoughts you know, even thoughts are even not like I fully baked, thoughts that I just had in my mind you know, If I’m not going to use any of those thoughts or ideas, might as well just give them away, right?

Stephan: Right!

Hyunwoo Sun: So, I started writing and then in 2005-06 thankfully many of my articles or blog posts were featured on the main page of those photo website that I was using.

Stephan: Uhuh.

Hyunwoo Sun: So, I saw like some potential, like some possibility in like helping people online and eventually I realize the only language that I know like a hundred per cent well is Korean. It’s, I can’t change the fact. I am never going to be perfect in English. I will still be making a mistake in English. So, the only language I know all about and I can never make any mistakes, serious mistake without knowing something is Korean. So, I decided to help people with learning Korean.

Stephan: Right, right. Okay, you said, you know, I, I mean probably you’re agreeing with me, building an audience is a really the keen order to make it as an online entrepreneur if, if online, if, you know, if you’re having your blog or website and if you would like to make a full time living on your website. It’s really a key to have a large audience. And…

Hyunwoo Sun: That’s right.

Stephan: Right and you know? If you had to start, imagine, if you had to start today from scratch, what would you do in order to build an audience as fast and effective as possible? And in what ways building an audience today different than it was 5 or 10 years ago when you started?

Hyunwoo Sun: That’s a very profound question actually, because I would do so many things differently if I were to start everything all over again. For example, when I first got started all this important social media outlets were not as important as they are now. They were just side outlets, you know? Something that people were using, just because other people were using, but, if I were to start all over again I would, If I had no follower or no following at all, I would probably get a lot of, try to get a lot of help from other more influential people like, teach them my ideas and if they like my idea and if they think what I’m going to do is valuable I would probably ask them to share news about me with their followers because people, people generally really enjoy sharing valuable content. So, who, whoever is really popular if that person finds your idea interesting they won’t charge you anything for sharing your idea. So, I would look for help. But, I, when I first started I didn’t know ‘bout that aspect of running an online, you know, website. So, I just did everything by myself, I never asked for help. Unfortunately a lot of people helped me before, even before I ask for it. So, yeah, I would definitely try to reach out to more influential people if they and I ask them if they could help me.

Stephan: Alright, okay.

Hyunwoo Sun: Yeah!

Stephan: Okay! Cool. Last but, not least I’d like to ask you about your Facebook strategy, in case you have any, you know, I have been following you for sometime and you’re posting a lot of personal things on your Facebook page photo of your wife, and your family, and even your dog. And the engagement on your Facebook page is very, is incredible in every you seem to receive for each Facebook page a post around 500 likes and comments and I personally had the feeling that I already know you and your family although this is really the first time we’re talking with each other now.

Hyunwoo Sun: Uhuh.

Stephan: In what way do you think you can share personal things on Facebook and other social media outlets would be helpful in building an audience?

Hyunwoo Sun: Well, it’s tricky, it’s not like I have, I mean, I should have like a clear strategy but I think it’s dangerous to have a clear cut like strategy.

Stephan: Right!

Hyunwoo Sun: For everything, because things change and you might be stuck with something that is old like 3months old, 5months old after the means is over, the trend is over. So I try to be as flexible as I can. And I just basically try to spend much time as possible talking with people online and the best way to start the conversation is by posting a question, like uploading a picture but, by posting a lot of like, really serious lessons or you know, you know, boring pictures you can’t really initiate a conversation.

Stephan: Alright.

Hyunwoo Sun: You know, people respond or react more easily to simple things like more humane things, so you know; I just posted a picture of myself like, not sleeping because I can’t but, like doing something stupid and a cute thing or a cute writing on the wall in Korean in the street at Hongdae in Seoul. And some people miss the place, some people has something to say, some people found it weird and you know? It’s always a very nice way to start a conversation to post something easy and simple and something relatable? And those are usually personal things like, I ‘m needing this. I’m here! You know. Today, the weather is nice! You don’t want to be talking about like, the Korean history or politics or anything.

Stephan: Right, right.

Hyunwoo Sun: Yeah, so that’s, that’s the only reason. I mean, I look for subjects to talk about and the subjects that I can find are about myself!

Stephan: (Laughs)

Hyunwoo Sun: And my team of course, my beautiful team they have an awesome ideas and they’re always fun to take pictures of.

Stephan: Okay. Okay, Awesome! Hyunwoo Sun thank you so much that you let me pick your brain I’m trying to wrap this up. In the first part of our interview, Hyunwoo Sun, shared with us his incredible language story which started with English in a Korean high school. Then he generously told us the story how he was able to build a mass of audience of over 90,000 raving fans online by simply sharing as much content for free as possible. In, the third part Hyunwoo reviled how he would build a following today and how is the different now than 5 to 10 years ago. And he’s master tip, summarize very shortly is to reach out at the beginning of reach out to influential people that are willing to share your mission and your vision. In the last part, Hyunwoo shared with us why it can be beneficial to let people get a glimpse into your personal life in order to build and strengthen a relationship with your audience.

Hyunwoo Sun: Yes!

Stephan: (Laughing) Alright. Hyunwoo Sun thank you so much taking your time for this interview. If you guys are as excited and impressed by Hyunwoo Sun as I have, please go to TalkToMeInKorean.com and HaruKorean.com where you can get corrections from Korean native speakers. Hyunwoo Sun thank you so much for contributing so much value to the audience for Online School for Unconventional Academics. We learned so much from you and as always I like to end my interview with following quote, “The best advice is worth nothing, if it’s not put into practice”.

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