South Korea will open 30 new state-supported Korean-language institutes across the globe this year to meet growing demand for Korean-language education, driven by the global sensation of K-pop and other Korean cultural content, an official has said.
"Boosted by the popularity of K-pop idol group BTS, a boom of learning Korean is growing globally. So (the King Sejong Institute Foundation) plans to establish 30 more King Sejong Institutes this year," Kang Hyoun-hwa, the foundation's chief, said in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency.
Kang Hyoun-hwa, chief of the King Sejong Institute Foundation (Yonhap)
Named after the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) king, the inventor of the Korean alphabet Hangeul, the institutes offer language education programs outside of the country.
The foundation under the culture ministry is in charge of operating the global network of King Sejong Institutes.
There are currently 180 such institutes in 60 countries across the globe, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has allotted 33.2 billion won ($28.6 million) to increase them to 210 this year.
In 2019, South Korea opened 16 new King Sejong Institutes across the globe.
The regions for the planned addition of the state-run Korean-language institutes this year include Southeast Asia, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Central and South America and Africa.
"BTS' fan club, 'Army,' unites with its unique energy and tries to go beyond just (consuming) and liking the band by directly understanding (the band) through learning the Korean language," Kang said.
"The foundation will focus on expanding King Sejong Institutes in countries with less infrastructure such as Africa and South America," she noted.
Kang said that this year the foundation will also kick off a special project to nurture non-Korean teachers who could provide Korean-language lectures at King Sejong Institutes. (Yonhap)