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Nearly 160,000 students overseas learned Korean in 2020

Posted March. 15, 2021 07:26,   

Updated March. 15, 2021 07:26


The number of students overseas who learned the Korean language amounted to nearly 160,000 last year. The phenomenon resulted from growing popularity of K-pop and other Korean content despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the “2021 basic plan on overseas Korean language education assistance” released on Sunday, Korean language courses were opened at 1,669 elementary, middle and high schools in 39 countries last year, and 159,864 students took the courses. The numbers represent gains by 14,555 students and by nine countries respectively from 2019.

Notably, Vietnam designated Korean as a first foreign language in February this year, along with English and Chinese. India adopted Korean as a second foreign language in July last year.

The Education Ministry plans to invest 23.6 billion won (about 20.7 million U.S. dollars) this year, almost double from this year, to provide assistance for Korean language education at 1,800 schools in 43 countries. “Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, demand for Korean language training is increasing due to hallyu or Korean Wave, including K-pop,” the South Korean Education Ministry said.

In order to meet growing demand for the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIC), the ministry plans to fully implement an Internet Based Test from 2023. If a pool of questions and the IBT method are introduced, the number of tests conducted can be increased significantly. Currently, the Paper Based Test is being administered, and test sheets are shipped to test sites around the world, and answer sheets are collected for eval‎uation.

Ye-Na Choi yena@donga.com