|Culture Minister Hwang Hee, right, speaks at the press conference for unveiling new King Sejong Korean language institutes worldwide, held in Seoul, Wednesday. Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
The King Sejong Institute Foundation will add 26 Korean language institutes in 18 countries this year, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said, Wednesday.
With the additions, the number of institutes to promote Korean language education and Korean culture abroad has increased to 234 in 82 countries worldwide, according to the ministry. The institutes were first established in three countries in 2007.
The 26 new institutes were selected from among 85 applicants in 43 countries ― mostly national or state universities with Korean language courses. For the first time, the foundation will newly establish institutes in Morocco, Tanzania, Bolivia, Slovenia and Nepal.
The ministry added that the foundation will open five institutes in Vietnam, which designated Korean as one of its first foreign languages, and Uzbekistan, which introduced Korean courses into the Academy of the Armed Forces, respectively.
The ministry said it aims to increase the number of institutes to 270 by the end of 2022.
"Despite the difficult situation due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, I'm delighted to find out that there is greater interest and enthusiasm in learning Korean language," Culture Minister Hwang Hee said. "We'll provide policy support to ensure that Korean language rises to be at the center of hallyu, or the Korean Wave, across the globe."