|Culture Minister Park Bo-gyoon, left, speaks at the World Korean Educator Conference 2023 at Intercontinental Seoul COEX hotel in Gangnam District, Seoul, Monday. Yonhap
Gov't unveils globalization strategy for Korean language as demand for K-culture soars
By Lee Min-young
Korea will expand the number of state-run Korean language centers around the world to 350 by 2027 from the current 248, following increased global interest in the country's language and culture, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said, Monday.
The government will also dispatch more Korean language educators to other countries and develop education programs that utilize the latest Korean cultural content.
These measures were announced at the opening ceremony of the World Korean Educator Conference, an annual event where lecturers at King Sejong Institute centers around the world and Korean language educators from other organizations discuss educational methods and form networks. About 250 people participated in this year's event.
The ministry said the popularity of Korean cultural content, represented by K-pop boy group BTS and Korean dramas including "Squid Game," is expanding beyond Asia to Europe, the Middle East and South America, resulting in increased interest in learning the Korean language.
Citing his meetings with young people in Vietnam and Poland in June and July, Culture Minister Park Bo-gyoon said at the ceremony in Seoul, "The individuals expressing their passion and dreams for K-culture in fluent Korean made me profoundly realize the elevated status and influence of Korea and the Korean language on the global stage. Language serves as a potent force connecting nations with other nations and individuals with other individuals, laying the foundation for solidarity and collaboration."
According to the ministry, about 740 people learned Korean at 13 centers run by the King Sejong Institute in three countries in 2007 when the institute was launched. And the number skyrocketed to 110,000 in 2022, while there are now 248 centers in 85 countries.
The ministry plans to boost the number of centers to 350 by 2027. The plan gives priority to countries that do not have Korean language education centers, with some nations in the Middle East and South America, such as the United Arab Emirates, being the key hubs.
The number of instructors at King Sejong Institute is small compared to the soaring number of attendees. As a result, the government also plans to increase the number of teachers from 270 in 2022 to 350 by 2027. In addition, it will seek to provide education programs to locals who are fluent in Korean, such as those who studied the language at local universities, so they can work as lecturers at the institute.
Considering that many Korean language learners started as fans of Korean cultural content, the ministry will develop learning programs based on such materials to keep them motivated. The institutes will also work with Korean cultural centers in major cities across the world.
It will set up an online alumni network, tapping into some 700,000 people who have studied at the institute so far, to help them share information about Korea and the language.