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(2nd LD) PM meets Thai students studying Korean language

All Headlines 20:30 October 11, 2016

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SEOUL, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn has visited a school in Bangkok to meet students studying the Korean language, his office said Tuesday, amid the rising popularity of K-pop and other Korean entertainment content in the Southeast Asian country.

Hwang made the visit Monday on the sidelines of his participation at the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD).

Around 25,000 students are estimated to be studying Korean at 100 secondary schools in Thailand, marking a significant rise from 3,000 students tallied in 2010.

The Prime Minister's Office said Thai students account for 25 percent of the 100,000 students studying Korean around the globe.

Amid the rising popularity of the language, Thai's education authority decided to adopt it as an official subject for college exams starting in 2018.

During Hwang's visit, the students organized a performance and danced to the tune of K-pop songs.

"I was able to see the friendship and harmony of South Korea and Thailand through the performances," Hwang said during the visit. "I hope this will be an opportunity to not only learn languages but to learn traditional Korean culture."

Korean language instructors, meanwhile, asked Hwang to provide them with necessary study materials for their schools.

South Korea's education ministry said Tuesday it will also expand ties with its Thai counterpart, vowing to increase exchanges of students, as well as do more to promote language education.

Vocational schools from both countries will also seek cooperation in various areas, including the information technology and beauty industries, the ministry added.

Later in the day, Hwang participated in the "I Love Korea" event, where eight Thai teams performed K-pop cover dances. Hyeri of the popular South Korean girl group Girl's Day also visited the venue to promote Korean literature and food.

The office said it wishes the event will lend support to "hallyu," or the global popularity of Korean music, TV dramas and films, along with the expansion of cultural exchanges between Seoul and Bangkok.

colin@yna.co.kr
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