Tag Archive | "education"

Korea Loses Spot as Third Largest Sender of Students to the U.S.

By Jenna Gibson

In 2016, South Korea officially dropped from the third largest source of international students in the United States to the fourth largest, now sitting behind China, India, and Saudi Arabia. The gap is small – Saudi Arabia sent just 280 more students than Korea in 2016 – but with the number of Korean students in the United States on a downward trend, that gap may widen in the coming years.

Korea has been the third largest source of students studying in the U.S. since 2002, when it surpassed Japan (which has since dropped to ninth place). Up until the late 2000s, the number of Koreans choosing to study in the United States was growing. But the number has dropped from a high of 75,065 in 2008 to 61,007 in 2016.

The number is still impressive – second place India is about 26 times bigger than Korea, but sends only 3 times as many students to study abroad in the U.S. The problem is that the number of Korean students choosing to come to the U.S. has been steadily dropping, a trend that is likely to continue.

A 2015 KEI blog attributed the decline in study abroad to economics – “With rising costs overseas and a stagnant economy at home, more Korean students are choosing to stay put.” Considering that since then youth unemployment has continued to set records, leading to widespread pessimism among young Koreans – it’s unsurprising that the downward trend has continued.

Student Enrollment Colored

Interestingly, the total number of Koreans studying abroad has actually held steady at around 220,000 since 2014. It’s the geographic spread that has seen the biggest change – in 2016, China surpassed the United States for the first time as the biggest destination country for Korean students.

Many of those students are taking advantage of the fact that China is a relatively close and relatively cheap option for short-term study programs – 65 percent of Korean students in China were taking language or other educational courses. In comparison, the vast majority of Korean students in the United States (85 percent) were enrolled in a full undergraduate or graduate program.

International students are a huge boon to the United States both intellectually and economically – according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, tuition, fees, and living expenses from Korean students added $2.3 billion to the economy in 2014. The United States would do well to invest in advertising and scholarship programs to keep Korean students interested in choosing American schools for their study abroad experience.

 Jenna Gibson is the Director of Communications at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from Tulane Public Relations’ photostream on flickr Creative Commons. Graphic by Juni Kim, KEI.

Posted in China, India, Korea Abroad, slider, South KoreaComments (0)

5 Interesting Documentaries about South Korea

By Jenna Gibson

Historically, local documentaries have not been that popular in South Korea – the first commercially successful documentary in the country was 2008’s “Old Partner,” which shattered domestic records just by attracting 100,000 viewers in the first few weeks after its release. Since then, more independent films have begun to crop up, telling real-life stories about different aspects of Korea. The five films below represent some of those stories.

1. Twinsters (2015)

Imagine waking up one day after living 25 years as an only child and finding out that you have an identical twin. This scenario is not just for dramatic soap operas – it really happened to two Korean adoptees. Twinsters follows Samantha Futerman, who grew up in the United States, and Anais Bordier, who grew up in France, as they get to know the twin they never knew they had. While this film is about the two women and their growing relationship, it also touches on broader themes related to international adoption and what culture and heritage means for these adoptees as they get older.

Available for streaming on Netflix.

 2. Reach for the Sky (2015)

The hyper-competitive Korean education system is not a new subject, but Reach for the Sky approaches it from a somewhat new angle – Repeaters. These students choose to spend a full year after their high school graduation focused only on improving their college entrance exam score with the hopes of getting into a better university. The film follows a group of these students throughout their repeating year, telling through them the story of a society where the name of your university can determine the course of your life.

Available for purchase (DVD and streaming) here: http://reachfortheskydoc.com/#

3. My Love, Don’t Cross that River (2014)

 This touching film about an elderly couple and their 76-year marriage was a smash success, becoming the most commercially successful independent film in Korea’s history. Slow-moving but never dull, the film lets the couple’s love speak for itself – like when 98-year-old Jo Byeong-man throws leaves on his wife while raking their yard, her exasperated response indicating that this has happened many times before. In this way, the film successfully portrays themes of love, family, and endurance without any need for narration or explanation.

Available for purchase (DVD and streaming) through Amazon Video.

4. The Battle of Chosin (2016)

This PBS special retells the pivotal Korean War battle of the Chosin Reservoir through the eyes of troops who fought there in 1950. Often known as the “Forgotten War,” the experiences during the Korean War nevertheless played a key role in shaping how Americans approached the world for the next 50 years. This film helps put the Chosin battle, and the experiences of the soldiers who fought there, into this wider perspective.

Available on the PBS website.

5. Even the Rivers (2015)

A brief but helpful introduction into some of the challenges faced by multicultural children in South Korea. Based on interviews with students, parents and teachers, this film touches on the ways Korea has become more multicultural, and what that means for the children who are growing up and going to school in a country that was, until very recently, entirely homogeneous.

Available to watch free on Vimeo – information on the film’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/eventherivers/

Jenna Gibson is the Director of Communications at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Image from Epping Forest DC’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

Posted in Culture, slider, South KoreaComments (0)

Korean Language Continues to Gain Popularity Worldwide

By Jenna Gibson

In Thailand, students applying to college will soon have the option of using Korean as their foreign language.

Beginning in 2018, Korean will become the seventh foreign language available on the test, along with Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, French, German, and Pali. English communication is also a required part of the exam.

This move comes amid growing demand for Korean language learning in Thailand, where Korean pop culture products are wild successes.

“Thailand has been swept by Hallyu for the past couple of years, and many Korean celebrities and singers are quickly gaining popularity. Not just second and third generation overseas Koreans, but also native Thais are wanting to learn Korean,” said Yoon So-young, director of the Korean Language Institute in Thailand, in response to the announcement. “The government’s decision to adopt Korean on the college entrance exam is taking a big step toward meeting the growing demand.”

Thailand is not the only country where the popularity of Korean pop culture, or Hallyu, has brought increased demand for Korean language classes. The King Sejong Institute Foundation, a Korean government initiative that has established 130 language institutes in 50 countries, was established in 2012 in part because of “Rapid increase in the Korean language education thanks to the spread of Hallyu.”

TOPIK Graph

But celebrity crushes are not the only reason more people around the world are interested in learning Korean. As a recent article in The Phnom Penh Post noted, thousands of Cambodians are diligently studying the language in the hopes of getting a coveted work permit to move to South Korea or to get a job with a Korean company in Cambodia. Nearly 55,000 Cambodians have applied to take the official Korean proficiency exam (TOPIK) so far in 2016.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific, American institutions continue to increase the availability of Korean language courses. Famous for its language instruction, Middlebury College opened its School of Korean in 2015. And MIT recently announced that they will begin offering their own Korean courses in the fall of 2016. The school had been offering four Korean classes in partnership with Wellesley College since 2014, but after two years of excess demand MIT decided to create their own courses.

“There’s been a lot of interest in MIT-Korea on campus,” Matt Burt, managing director of MIT-Korea, told The Tech, MIT’s campus newspaper. “People are interested in Korean popular culture, but also want to explore Korea’s growing technological scene, which appeals to the MIT community.”

“MIT-Korea launched in 2012. The first year, we only had five interns. This year, so far, we had 16 students travel to Korea over IAP and at least 20 interns will be working there in the summer,” Burt added. “I suspect that there would have been more students going had there been the option to take MIT-taught Korean classes, so hopefully, the number of participants in MIT-Korea will only rise with this change.”

These new courses are part of a wider trend in the United States, as American students grow increasingly interested in learning Korean. In fact, Korean was the only language to experience significant growth in the United States over the last few years, with the number of students studying Korean increasing 44.7 percent even as overall language enrollment decreased 6.7 percent.

 Jenna Gibson is the Director of Communications at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from Hyunwoo Sun’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

Posted in Culture, Korea Abroad, slider, South KoreaComments (1)

Not as Easy as A-B-C? Looking at English Proficiency in South Korea

By Juni Kim

Even a cursory glance at the South Korean education system reveals a fervent interest for English learning in both public and private spheres. According to a 2015 government survey by Statistics Korea and the Korean Ministry of Education, spending on private education totaled 17.8 trillion won (about US $15 billion) last year. English alone makes up one third of these private education costs, which amounts to the largest per capita spending on private English education in the world.

Whether South Korea’s hefty appetite for English has led to effective results remains uncertain. The 2015 EF English Proficiency Index Rankings placed South Korea 27th out of 70 nations measured worldwide. The top-ranked nations are predictably comprised of Western European countries that benefit from more common linguistic roots with English.  Countries like Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark speak native languages classified by the Foreign Service Institute as a Category 1 language, which is for languages most closely related to English. Korean, along with other Asian languages like Japanese and Mandarin, is classified as a Category 5 language, which is for languages with the most significant differences to English.

Although Korea’s global ranking may imply that South Korean English proficiency has a long way to go, the picture looks more favorable for Korea when framed against other countries that natively speak other Category 5 languages. The EPI ranks Japan as 30th, Taiwan as 31st, Hong Kong as 33rd, and China as 47th on their global rankings, which are all below South Korea’s ranking. When compared to only other Asian nations, South Korea ranks 4th out of 16 nations, with only Singapore, Malaysia, and India ranked ahead. Considering that these three countries have a shared history of British colonialism and have also recognized English as an official national language, South Korea has performed well in English ability relative to the Asian region.

English Proficiency in Asia

South Korea ranks 4th in Asia in terms of English proficiency.

Despite these favorable rankings in Asia, the authors of EPI noted that South Korea’s “English fever” has not led to a significant increase in Korean adult English proficiency, which has stagnated in recent years. In fact, South Korea has steadily dropped in rankings since EPI began tracking English proficiency in 2011. They viewed the thriving private English education business as a natural result of inadequacies in South Korea’s public English education. KEI’s own Jenna Gibson wrote last year about the Korean Ministry of Education’s plan to improve English education, which might not be as effective as they hoped.

Even though the path for higher English proficiency remains unclear, South Korea’s interest and spending in English is unlikely to disappear in the near future. Spending on English private education took a slight 1% percent drop from 2014 to 2015 and a recent poll of South Korean parents reported that over 93% of respondents did not want to cut spending on their children’s private English courses. For many Koreans, English remains a prized skill to improve employment opportunities in the competitive Korean job market.

What may abate South Korea’s “English fever” is the increasing national interest in learning Mandarin. With China being South Korea’s largest trading and tourism partner, Koreans have quickly caught on to the importance of Mandarin proficiency. While the number of South Korean students in U.S. universities has dipped in recent years, the number of students in Chinese universities has more than tripled since 2003. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has also publicly discussed the inclusion of Chinese on city signs, which already display English, to accommodate the large number of tourists from China.

Regardless of which language becomes more popular among Korean students in the future, South Korean interest in language learning is telling of the national desire to become more integrated with the global scene.

Juni Kim is the Program Manager and Executive Assistant at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the authors alone. 

Photo from Kim Daram’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

Posted in slider, South KoreaComments (0)

Global Korea? The Potential Long-term Implications of Recent Cuts to English Education

By Jenna Gibson

Last month, the Korean Ministry of Education announced major changes to the way South Korean students will learn English. Some of them are positive, and can potentially help ease the overwhelming classroom workload for Korean students. But these new policies may also have some unintended side effects.

Schools will be cutting the classroom workload for all classes by 20 percent, and English classes in particular by 30 percent starting in 2017. The plan doesn’t just cut the classroom hours for English learning, but it also shifts priorities – elementary and middle schools will be expected to focus less on reading and writing, while high schools will reduce conversation and listening practice.

In addition, in a major shift, the English section of Korea’s notoriously intense college entrance exam (known as the Suneung or KSAT) will now be graded in absolute terms rather than on a curve – a move designed to lessen the atmosphere of competition between peers vying for spots in elite colleges.

In some ways, these changes are long overdue. According to language learning company EF Education First, the average Korean student spends 20,000 hours studying English by the time they graduate from university. However, South Korea ranked 24 out of 60 in a 2013 English Proficiency index survey. Clearly, the ministry should be shaving down some of those long hours and making English education more efficient.

While some of these new policies seem logical,  they could also have unintended consequences.

Global Korea

In the past decade, Korea has tried to become a bigger player on the world stage. Former President Lee Myung-Bak had his “Global Korea” policy, focused on taking up a leadership role in regional and global stability. And President Park Geun-Hye has repeatedly spoken about her plan to build a “creative economy,” with the goal of increasing the competitiveness of Korean ventures and helping them make inroads into global markets. Building a population with solid English skills is an essential component for both of these plans. English is by far the most used language in newspaper publishing, book publishing, international telecommunications, scientific publishing, international trade, mass entertainment, and diplomacy. Most international organizations and international corporations operate in English.

And up until recently, Korean society has invested both time and money to stay competitive in this English-centric world order. In 1997, elementary schools were required to start English language classes in third grade. And in 1995 Korea introduced the “English Program in Korea” (EPIK), which hires native English speakers and places them in schools around the country to serve as supplemental instructors that could expose Korean students to real-world listening and practice. The KSAT, a grueling gatekeeper to success in Korean society, includes an English section, raising the stakes for Korean students and, therefore, their parents. All of this sparked an outbreak of “English Fever,” sparking huge growth in both the time and money Koreans spend on English language learning.

The trend has now reversed, however. Citing budget constraints, many cities including Seoul and Incheon no longer hire native English teachers for middle and high schools. In 2014, the number of native English teachers in public schools throughout Korea fell to 6,785, down from a high of 9,520 in 2011. The EPIK program has been cut nearly in half since 2011.

To replace these foreign teachers, schools are starting to rely on Korean instructors, who cost less and are willing to work longer hours, according to a recruiter who places foreigners in English-teaching jobs. An Incheon Metropolitan Office of Education official confirmed – with housing and airfare, native English teachers cost the city 37 million won ($31,000) while a Korean instructor only costs 32 million won ($26,800).

However, even the most well-trained Korean teacher cannot provide the perspective and expertise that a native speaker does. Modern, spoken English, the kind that will come in handy in the global job market, cannot be taught from a book. Further, one of the biggest obstacles for students of a foreign language is the fear of using their skills in front of a native speaker. Having a foreign English teacher in the classroom can ease those fears and make Korean students more comfortable when they interact with native speakers in the future. Given that one of the big changes that the Ministry of Education announced this month is to shift the focus for elementary and middle school students toward more listening and speaking practice, these budget cuts for native speakers may not work in concert with the new objectives.

Pay Up

The new changes could not only reduce Korea’s global competitiveness in general, they could disproportionately affect middle and lower class families.

Education ministry officials may be underestimating the lengths parents will go to in order to make up for these “lost” hours of class time. One parent of a middle school student told The Chosun Ilbo that they will likely send their child to extra hagwon (cram school) classes to stay competitive.

And those classes do not come cheap – despite some talk of cracking down on costs, Koreans still spend 32.9 trillion won (about $3.2 billion) on private education annually. On average, tuition fees for English kindergartens cost families 751,000 won ($630) a month, an amount that has increased 8.5 percent increase since 2013.

The problem is so significant that a new term has arisen – “edu-poor” – to describe a family that has become impoverished because of the amount they are spending on private education for their children.

With these changes, the Korean government rightly identifies the need to systematically revamp English education. But if done without simultaneously taking a close look at private education spending, students whose parents can afford to pay for an extra hagwon classes will maintain their exposure to English, while students who rely on free public education will lag even farther behind.

Conclusion

The change has the right idea at heart – to cut down on the burden for already over-worked Korean students. Some of the measures make much-needed changes. For example, reducing the focus on reading and writing in middle schools could help emphasize more practical English skills. And switching the English portion of the KSAT to an absolute evaluation rather than the current curve-based system might help reduce the high level of competition between peers. However, the education ministry should also address some of the underlying issues in the Korean education system and focus on reforms best suited to the needs of a more innovative and creative economy.

The cost of private lessons and the implications for inequality aside, Korea needs English to stay competitive in the world. Former President Roh Moo-Hyun said it best – “English is a must in order to catch up with the stream of globalization.”

Jenna Gibson is the Associate Director for Communication Technology and Programs at the Korea Economic Institute of America and a former Fulbright Scholar teaching English in Korea. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from UNC-CFC-USFK’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

Posted in slider, South KoreaComments (0)

Korean Study Abroad Numbers Drop as Return on Investment Falters

By Jenna Gibson

For South Korean children, studying abroad and mastering English used to be the key to success, prompting waves of students to head overseas for their diplomas. Now, South Korea is the third largest source of international students studying in the United States, behind only China and India.

But this trend may be nearing its end. In 2014, 220,000 Koreans in their 20s studied abroad, down from 260,000 in 2011, according to Statistics Korea. The number of Koreans studying in the United States has fallen for the last three years in a row, dipping below 70,000 for the first time since 2007.

It all comes down to economics. With rising costs overseas and a stagnant economy at home, more Korean students are choosing to stay put. But while money is clearly a key factor in deciding where to go to school, there is more to studying abroad than increased salaries. The intangible and societal benefits of cross-cultural experiences can easily tip the scale in favor of leaving the peninsula.

Study Abroad Graphic Final

Why are Korean students staying home?

In a word, money. Tuition and living costs are increasingly expensive, particularly in the United States, where one third of South Korean students who study abroad choose to go. Part of the draw has always been so-called “English Fever,” a trend that started in the 1990s as a government push to increase Korean businesses’ global competitiveness by emphasizing English language education, according to a report in International Educator magazine.

Still today, English is part of required curricula from third grade to graduate school. In an effort to boost their child’s proficiency, many families began sending their children to study abroad in English speaking countries starting as soon as elementary school. Sending children abroad to study English became so common that a new term emerged to describe these split families – a “Goose Father” stays home in Korea to provide for his family abroad, only able to “migrate” and see his family once or twice a year.

But as more students began flocking abroad, the market for bilingual workers became saturated, and English started to lose its competitive edge. At the same time, more international universities are opening campuses in Korea. Thanks to the opening of the Songdo Global University campus, Stony Brook University, George Mason University, the University of Utah and more have set up shop in Incheon. The best part – these campuses offer international education at prices comparable to domestic universities.

In addition, the job market makes it hard to justify spending more to send students overseas. According to the Korea Herald, youth unemployment is at its highest since 2000. And for those aged 15-29 that have a job, 34.8 percent of them are in contract positions with limited job security.

With all these changes, studying abroad is no longer the silver bullet it used to be. Now, one student said, “Korean employers perceive returnees from abroad as being more expensive hires because of the costly tuition they shelled out for their U.S. education.”

Further, “in Korea, kinship is important. It’s a very relational society…You have to have a good network in your school to get a job. Those students who study in the States don’t,” according to Jaeha Choi, director of student recruitment and admissions at SUNY-Korea

No wonder parents and students are no longer seeing enough return on their investment from studying overseas.

Looking beyond costs

While it’s understandable to look at costs and benefits when considering study abroad, parents and students must also remember that not all benefits come with a dollar (or won) sign.

In fact, according to a long-term survey of Americans who studied abroad between 1960 and 2007, the non-economic benefits of living outside of their home country were clear. These students were more plugged in to world issues and cultural differences, and were more likely to express a desire to make a difference and work toward the common good. These students were also more likely to pursue graduate work than the national average. Participants overwhelmingly cited their study abroad experience as one of the most influential experience in their lives. Bottom line, the researchers found, “investing in study abroad has both major social and individual benefits, and, thus contributes to the development of not only human capital but social capital, and, thus contributes to the common good, above and beyond the personal private benefits.”

In the short-term, Korea and its citizens may save money by cutting back on English education. But in the long run, Korea risks losing its global competitiveness if it drops its English focus. The government in the 1990s wasn’t wrong to emphasize English as a gateway to the world economy – English is by far the world’s most used language in newspaper publishing, book publishing, international telecommunications, scientific publishing, international trade, mass entertainment, and diplomacy. And, let’s face it, there is no substitute for learning a language than living in a place where it is spoken. This is not to say that English Fever doesn’t have its faults, but cutting back on the chance for students to live and study abroad should not be seen as a blanket solution.

Obviously, costs come into play when students and families make the decision to study abroad. Keeping this in mind, American universities need to reduce tuition for international students (and for domestic students while they’re at it) to help boost return on investment for Korean families. But at the same time, families need to keep in mind that the benefits of study abroad are numerous and lasting, and can reach far beyond each individual student.

Jenna Gibson is the Associate Director for Communication Technology and Programs at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from Michael Cote’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

Posted in slider, South KoreaComments (1)

Do English-Teacher Cuts in Korea Signal a Sea Change?

By Ben Hancock

In the face of budget cuts, the education offices of South Korea’s two most populous regions announced in the second half of last year plans to reduce their roster of native English-speaking teachers in coming years. While the scale of the cutbacks in Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province is still unclear, the steps raise questions about whether the country as a whole is beginning to move away from an educational model that has exposed millions of Koreans to Westerners and their culture, and vice versa.

What seems to be happening is that Korean education officials are now shifting toward a quality over quantity approach to English education, according to Pak Soon-Yong, a professor of education at Yonsei University. “There is a discussion on the need to revamp English education to meet the needs of the times, one of which is to reestablish the guidelines to accommodate qualified native English teachers,” he says.

That’s a natural shift for Korea to make as a rising economic power with increasing international exposure, says Ben Glickman, who until recently was CEO of the Vancouver-based Footprints Recruiting company that places teachers in Korea and elsewhere. It also roughly follows the arc of Japan’s English-teaching industry — which rose along with its economy and high-tech sector from the 1980s until the mid-1990s, but then evened out in later years.

“Foreigners in Korea are not the novelty that they were 15 or 20 years ago,” Glickman explains. This means there’s less value in just getting kids exposed to a foreign face, especially in urban areas, and more interest in drawing educators who are specially qualified. Even now, many of the teachers hired through the government-run English Program in Korea (EPIK) are recent graduates who are shoved into classrooms with just a week of training, he says. And they’re earning roughly $40,000 a year, making them a target for local councils eager to ease spending.

Still, that amount is less than Glickman earned when he taught English in Korea over a decade ago. This is where the economics of supply and demand come into play. Glickman notes — and I wrote about two years ago — a rise in the number of Westerners newly seeking jobs in Korea or who planned to keep the ones they had, corresponding with the soured state of the job markets in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere. More applicants for less positions means that Korea can afford to be more choosey.

In a recent interview with the Jeju Weekly, Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) Foreign Education Department Chief Choi Chun Ok underlined the scope of the costs to pay for native English-speaking teachers.

“Foreign English teachers have greatly contributed to the development of English education in Seoul,” Choi told the paper. “However, it is time to reevaluate the cost-effectiveness, considering a huge sum of budget (about 52 billion won, or US$45 million annually). So we are changing our policy from quantity expansion to quality improvement.”

Scope of cutbacks unclear

Part of the reason it’s so difficult to get a handle on how deep the cuts will be is because there have been so many conflicting media reports, as noted by blogger Matt Van Volkenburg, who has run “Gusts of Popular Feeling” from his perch in South Korea since 2005. “I don’t think these moves should be exaggerated,” Van Volkenburg says in an e-mail to me. He notes that while the initially announced budget cuts in Gyeonggi were substantial (though the provincial education authority later seemed to backtrack), the cuts in Seoul were relatively shallow. In the capital, it seems clear that native speaker jobs in high schools will be cut significantly, with lesser cuts in middle and elementary schools.

Glickman is not surprised that it’s been hard to figure out what’s going on behind the scenes, especially in Seoul. Characterizing SMOE as a “notoriously opaque” agency, he recalls an instance in 2008 when the office fired more than a hundred teachers just before they were to begin their jobs. Many of them were already in Korea or on a plane, and the office never gave a clear explanation for its action.

That issue aside, it doesn’t seem like the cuts will have a major effect on Korea’s influence abroad, or the country’s allure. Glickman speculates this may have even been a piece of the calculations in deciding to start rolling back the English teacher positions. With Samsung now a household name and kimchi taco trucks proliferating in Seattle, LA, New York and Washington, it’s probably become apparent to Koreans that they don’t need to rely on English teachers to be cultural ambassadors, he says.

Van Volkenburg partly agrees. “As much as people like to scoff at the ‘Korean Wave,’ I’ve been told by people who work with foreign students studying in Korea that quite a few non-ethnic Korean Western students are attracted to Korea because of their interest in Korean music and dramas, so that will continue to pull more Westerners here.”

“It is too bad, however, that few people have thought about how native speaking teachers could be potential sources of information about the country,” he adds. “In the past, some soldiers and a great many Peace Corps volunteers went on to work in business or academia related to Korea. I’ve only ever seen one article … suggesting that foreign teachers be seen as potential ambassadors. Perhaps as the political winds shift and the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics approach, this idea might become more popular.”

Ben Hancock is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. He has studied Korean language and culture since 2004, and most recently lived in Korea from 2008 to 2010. The views represented here are his own.

Photo from the U.S. Army Second Infantry Division’s photo stream on flickr Creative Commons.

Posted in slider, South KoreaComments (3)


About The Peninsula

The Peninsula blog is a project of the Korea Economic Institute. It is designed to provide a wide ranging forum for discussion of the foreign policy, economic, and social issues that impact the Korean peninsula. The views expressed on The Peninsula are those of the authors alone, and should not be taken to represent the views of either the editors or the Korea Economic Institute. For questions, comments, or to submit a post to The Peninsula, please contact us at ts@keia.org.