The number of applicants that took the state-run Korean language proficiency test for non-native Korean speakers over the weekend reached a record high, the education ministry said Monday.
A total of 72,295 applicants took the 46th Test of Proficiency administered on Saturday and Sunday at 164 locations in 45 countries across the world.
Launched in 1997, TOPIK measures the ability to understand Korean language encompassing grammar, reading, listening and writing for those preparing to study or work in South Korea.
The number of test-takers has seen a 70-fold increase over the past decades, with the figure rising from 2,692 in 1997 to 189,261 in 2009 and 206,768 last year, amid growing interest in Korean pop culture.
The National Institute for International Education runs the test six times a year in 71 countries, including Japan, Uzbekistan, Cuba and Morocco. In the second half of this year, Bolivia, Jamaica and Poland will be added to the list of countries.