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Learning Korean becomes new fad in Taiwan

Posted November. 28, 2017 08:44,   

Updated November. 28, 2017 09:46


With the boom of Hallyu, the Korean Wave, learning Korean is all the rage in Taiwan. Taiwan has the highest percentage of the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) takers compared to their population.

The number of TOPIK takers in Taiwan soared from 5,316 in 2014 to 7,210 in 2016 with the boom of Korean learning. Considering that their population is only 23.5 million, it is the country with the greatest proportion of TOPIK takers.

There are multiple reasons to why learning Korean has become popular in Taiwan. But the spread of the Korean Wave is definitely the No.1 reason. Every person I met in Taipei knew a few names of Korean celebrities.

Another reason is that learning Korean raises the chance to land a job in Taiwan. “There are many Japanese-speaking talent in Taiwan but a few Korean speaking talent. I get phone calls from firms asking for applicants who can speak Korean,” said the chief professor of the Korean department at National Chengchi University. The trade volume between Korea and Taiwan exceeds 30 billion U.S. dollars annually, which is half that of Taiwan and Japan, but the number of people speaking Japanese is 10 times that of Korean-speaking population.

The Taiwanese government, which is not in good terms with China, is making efforts to expand ties with Korea. Korea and Taiwan saw the combined number of tourists visiting the other country increase by dozens of times to top 2 million a year. “The China Airlines flying back and forth between the two countries are full most of the times due to tourists,” said Chu Chi, Public Information Officer at Taipei Mission in Korea.

Sung-Ha Joo zsh75@donga.com