Luxury handbag manufacturer Simone Corp. donated $5 million to begin constructing a larger, culturally authentic Korean language village in the US.
The company will be supporting constructions for the expansion of the current Korean Language Village at Concordia Language Villages, the world-language and culture education program announced Tuesday.
This gift represents the single largest donation in support of Korean language education in North America, Concordia Language Villages said in a statement.
The Korean Language Village located in Bemidji, Minnesota, US (Concordia Language Villages)
“This donation by Kenny Park and the Simone Corp. represents a major milestone in the 57-year history of Concordia Language Villages, as it is our largest single gift to date,” said Christine Schulze, Executive Director of the program.
Dubbed “Lake in the Woods,” the newly expanded Korean Language Village will mark the eighth official language village inside the Concordia cluster.
The site will be built on an 875-acre tract of land on Turtle River Lake near Bemidji, Minnesota.
The US accounts for 80 percent of Simone Corp.’s $1 billion annual sales, according to the luxury handbag producer’s CEO Kenny Park.
“I believe that one of the best gifts for young people is providing access and motivation for them to learn and experience global cultures. And I consider the Korean Language Village to be a perfect model of how best to create global citizens,” Park said through a statement.
The current Korean Language Village, a summer camp within Concordia Language Villages, celebrates its 20th year of immersion programming in 2018. Since 1999, more than 1,600 young people from around the US have attended the camp.
“Korean has had the fastest growing enrollments of any world language program over the last five years in the United States, and the Korean Language Village is part of the same trend,” according to Dr. Ross King, founding dean of the Korean Language Village and professor of Korean Language and Literature at the University of British Columbia.
The village has been full since February and has had a wait list of 19 persons, King said. “We could use the (new) site to expand our weeks of programming and to accommodate more villagers, and also expand family and adult programming outside the summer months.”
King attributes this growth in part to the “Korean Wave” in popular culture, and the increasing importance of Korea’s position in US national security and economic prosperity.
Concordia Language Villages believes the donation is a critical investment in strengthening the education of young Korean language learners who will contribute to enhanced US-Korea relations in the future.
By Rumy Doo (email@example.com