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Korea to establish 30 more Korean language institutes overseas

The Korean government will increase the number of state-run “Sejong Hakdang” Korean language institutes overseas to 90 next year from the current 60, as interest in Korean soars thanks to the growing popularity of Korean pop culture.

Sejong Hakdang, or the King Sejong Institute, is named after the famous Joseon Dynasty ruler from the 15th century who invented hangeul, the Korean alphabet.

The institute runs Korean language programs.

To improve the quality of Korean language education, the government will push the National Institute of the Korean Language to develop a standard curriculum by the end of this year and introduce it in all Sejong Hakdang schools next year.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said the additional 30 institutes will be mostly established in Asian countries such as Myanmar, Pakistan and East Timor, which export labor to Korea and have a high demand for Korean. The ministry hopes to raise the number of Sejong Hakdang institutes to 120 by 2013.

“We began focusing our policy on globalizing Korean language this year in earnest and we were given an increased budget for this policy from the Finance Ministry,” said Bang Sun-gyu, director general of culture policy of the ministry.

“We plan to make an integrated instruction guide for Korean language teachers by next year. We will verify commercial textbooks for Korean language learning available now at the bookstores and may use them as the standard textbook for Sejong Hakdang,” he said.

The Culture Ministry said it will dispatch 20 certified instructors to Sejong Institutes and other Korean schools in 20 regions so that Korean language teachers can improve their expertise.

It is the first time for the government to dispatch certified teachers for Korean language education overseas.

As of 2010, Sejong Hakdang has enrolled 15,000 students around the world with about 230 teachers, Bang said.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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