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Korea, the `TOEIC Kingdom`

Posted December. 06, 2005 06:47,   


The number of Korean TOEIC test applicants is the world’s highest.

According to Japan’s Institute for International Business Communication (IIBC), which organizes the TOEIC test, the number of Koreans who took the test reached 1.69 million in 2003, overtaking those in Japan, where the test first originated. The number of Korean TOEIC takers reached 1.83 million last year, also higher than the 1.43 million in Japan.

The reasons for such a hike in number of Korean TOEIC applicants cited by IIBC are a high implementation rate of the test in Korean companies and an early start of English education beginning in the third grade of elementary school.

The TOEIC test was first implemented in Japan in 1979 by a U.S. nonprofit organization to evaluate business English skills. At the first TOEIC test, 3,000 people applied, but now TOEIC is adopted by 60 countries worldwide, with 4.5 million people taking the test annually.

Not only Korea and Japan but also other Asian countries, including Taiwan (50,000 takers annually) and Thailand (46,000 takers annually), generally have a higher number of TOEIC takers compared to other regions. In China, only around 1,000 people took the test in 2002, but with a fever for English education, the number of TOEIC takers surpassed 30,000 last year. IIBC said that recently an increasing number of people in Latin America and Europe are taking the test as well.

Jae-Young Kim redfoot@donga.com