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4th World Korean Educators Conference opens in Seoul

As Hallyu continues to bring greater international exposure to Korea and its culture, learning the Korean language is becoming an increasingly important, not to mention popular, priority for new and old fans.

In light of this growing trend, Korean language learners and educators from around the world have gathered together in Seoul to share their insights on the present and future of Korean language education.

The World Korean Educators Conference 2012 kicked off on August 22 with an opening ceremony that included an opening address by First Lady Kim Yoon-ok and a special lecture by Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik.

First Lady Kim Yoon-ok addresses participants at the World Korean Educators Conference 2012 on August 22 (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).First Lady Kim Yoon-ok addresses participants at the World Korean Educators Conference 2012 on August 22 (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

Over 200 Korean language educators and instructors, together with 67 outstanding Korean language students from the King Sejong Institutes of 28 countries, were welcomed at the day’s ceremony.

“I would like to learn about diverse education methods for teaching the Korean language to foreign learners,” said Kim Eung-su, director of the Sejong Institute in Nairobi, Kenya. “I hope these several days will be a valuable time for Korean language educators who work in different settings to share their various experiences.”

The opening event also included an official certification ceremony for the 28 new King Sejong Institutes that will be in operation by the end of the year in 22 countries, including China, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Peru, Algeria, and Colombia. Twenty government-licensed Korean language education specialists who will be dispatched to King Sejong Institutes in eleven countries, including Mongolia and Vietnam, were also invited onstage for a send-off ceremony.

Creation of the new learning centers comes in response to high student demand, with the institute in Mykolaiv, Ukraine having been opened in response to a petition request signed by 178 local students.

Korean language learners and educators from around the world meet with First Lady Kim Yoon-ok and Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik at the World Korean Educators Conference 2012 on August 22 (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).Korean language learners and educators from around the world meet with First Lady Kim Yoon-ok and Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik at the World Korean Educators Conference 2012 on August 22 (photo courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae).

Peruvian student Francisco Javier, who expressed his love for Korean culture with a performance of the traditional Korean folk song Arirang during the opening day event, explained that he had started his studies at the King Sejong Institute in Lima because he wanted to understand the whole of Korean culture, including its history, philosophy, and literature.

It was in light of the enthusiasm showed by students like Javier that conference organizers also prepared a weeklong sightseeing and cultural tour for the visiting international students that will take place after the conference. The students will travel to traditional sites such as Jeonju Hanok Village and Gyeongbokgung in Seoul as well as more modern attractions like a televised K-pop concert.

The students’ itinerary also includes special classes designed according to their answers on a previous survey of their personal interests. Professional instructors will be teaching the students taekwondo, K-pop dances, acting, traditional dance, and samul nori percussion instruments, in preparation for a final performance on August 27.

The burgeoning interest in the Korean language that has accompanied Hallyu and the growing international exposure to Korea’s popular culture has resulted in a steady increase in the number of King Sejong Institutes worldwide. In October, the Korean government will launch a new foundation to oversee management of the overseas King Sejong Institutes and provide systematic, specialized Korean language education for a greater number of students.

The World Korean Educators Conference was organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the International Korean Language Foundation. More information on the King Sejong Institutes, as well as access to writing and speaking projects created by students around the world, can be found at the Nuri-Sejonghakdang online learning portal (available in Korean, English, Chinese, Mongolian, Thai, Russian, and Indonesian).

By Kwon Jungyun
Korea.net Staff Writer

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