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No. of students learning Korean on sharp increase in Vietnam

All Headlines 17:10 December 09, 2019

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- A craze to learn the Korean language is rapidly spreading in Vietnam owing to the great popularity of Korean pop culture and deepening economic relationship between the two countries, a Korean language center said Monday.

According to the Korean Language Education Center, 5,290 students currently study Korean in 12 universities in Ho Chi Minh City, a 25 percent increase from 4,724 in 2017. The center, located in the Vietnamese city, is a subsidiary of the South Korean education ministry.

The number of applicants for the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) in the city alone was tallied at 15,754, up 25 percent from 12,478 last year and almost double the 8,495 recorded in 2017, the center said.

The number of TOPIK applicants across the Southeast Asian nation was 23,939 last year, compared with 13,160 in 2015.

South Korean instructor Huh Sun teaches Korean at Thu Duc High School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Dec. 5, 2019. (Yonhap)

The Korean language fad is spilling over into middle and high schools as well.

At Thu Duc High School in Ho Chi Minh, one of 12 schools that have adopted Korean as an optional subject, 415 students, about 19 percent of the whole school, are learning Korean. The figure was 220 in 2017 and 285 in 2018.

Many secondary school students are learning Korean due to their interest in South Korea's pop culture, including K-pop and dramas, while college students are doing so to enter South Korean companies, which pay salaries much higher than Vietnamese firms.

"Graduates who have specialized in the Korean language and undergone language training programs in South Korea have no worries over their job-seeking," said a professor who leads the Korean language department of the Vietnam National University's social sciences and humanities school.

The South Korean education ministry plans to have close consultations with its Vietnamese counterpart to find ways to make Korean a regular subject in Vietnamese middle and high schools. At present, five foreign languages -- English, French, Japanese, Chinese and Russian -- are taught there.

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