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34 pct of Korean descendants living in Central Asia can't speak Korean: report

All News 15:33 January 02, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- More than 30 percent of Goryeoin, which refers to the Korean diaspora in Russia and Central Asia, can't speak Korean, a recent report revealed.

In the report on the living conditions of Korean descendants in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), several Korean academics including Professor Sohn Young-hoon of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies conducted a survey in July and August on 673 Goryeoin living in countries including Russia and Kazakhstan.

The survey found that 34 percent of the respondents said they didn't know Korean at all while 45 percent could speak very basic Korean and 13 percent could command mid-level Korean. Only 2 percent could speak Korean fluently.

On the question how often Korean is spoken at home, 37 percent responded "not at all" while 10 percent said "frequently."

The report urged the Korean government to offer systematic Korean language education for people living in the region in order to help them keep their identity and heritage.

A majority of the respondents shared the view that more Korean lessons should take place. About 77 percent said they needed a Korean lesson very much while only 5 percent said it was not necessary.

Nearly 66 percent were found to have a favorable opinion towards Koreans while 18 percent thought Koreans just "foreigners" and 8 percent considered Koreans "unfriendly countrymen."

"Due to the living conditions of Goryeoin who've been living away from their hometown for a long time, Russian became their first language and a different mindset (from those of Koreans) has already taken root. However, their interest in Korean tradition and the language, as well as pride in Korea, still remains," the report said.

It suggested the Korean government come up with customized support measures for them, such as providing them with IT education, so that they can hold onto their identity and contribute to the development of Korea in the long term.


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