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Hallyu program lures foreigners

College in Daegu asks students to see K-pop shows, watch dramas

May 21,2016
Foreign students from the Tourism Foreign Language Interpretation program at Yeungjin College, Daegu, learn Korean while pretending to be at a wine bar in the community college’s hotel management laboratory. The class has earned a lot of attention from students who are interested in Korean movies, dramas and K-pop. [GONG JEONG-SIK]
About 20 foreign students from a community college in Daegu pretended to be tourists at a wine bar last month, practicing their Korean during a class about tourism and Hallyu, or the Korean wave.

A Japanese student named Ishida Kisaki, 20, asked in poor Korean, “What does this wine taste like?”

“The wine has a fruity taste,” answered Qu Tong, 22, a Chinese student who pretended to be the bartender. “The wine is popular and appears often in Korean dramas.”

The class is part of a program at Yeungjin College in Daegu called Tourism Foreign Language Interpretation, specially designed for foreign students. The two-year institute of higher education, in order to survive in the midst of an ever-decreasing number of Korean applicants, has begun trying to attract more foreign students.

There are now 21 foreign students from China, Japan, Vietnam and Russia taking the interpretation course, and they have acquired 80 credits from the program toward graduation. All the classes in the course are run in Korean.

“I decided to study in Korea because I was mesmerized by the beauty of Korea when I saw the dramas ‘Descendants of the Sun’ [2016] and ‘ Daejanggeum’ [2003],” said Tong.

A 21-year-old Russian student, Olga Manzhikova, said, “After I graduate, I will go back to Russia and succeed as a journalist who covers Korean issues.”

The program consists of class materials unheard of in ordinary college curricula. For instance, the students took part in one activity that allowed them to experience the life of a seonbi, or scholar during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). They also attended K-pop concerts and went grocery shopping at traditional markets.

The course’s first class in March was conducted at Tongdo Fantasia in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang, where the popular Korean drama “My Love from the Star” (2013-14) was filmed. In May, the class will be visiting Dosan Confucian Academy in Andong, North Gyeongsang to experience what Confucian academic culture was like during the Joseon Dynasty. In September, students will have to join a K-pop fan club and attend concerts.

Yeungjin College’s Hallyu tourism curriculum for foreign students is the first of its kind in Korea. The idea was first suggested by Professor Kang Bung-ju, 49, who says that as the number of students applying to two-year colleges in suburban areas continued to dwindle, there was no way the school could survive by simply waiting for Korean high school graduates to enroll.

When Kang visited the Japanese city of Osaka in May, he was impressed by the enthusiasm of avid Hallyu fans there and was inspired to design the program.

“I thought it would be helpful to form a class for foreign students by incorporating Korean language and Hallyu tourism,” said Kang. “I designed a program and notified the college’s sister high schools in China, Japan, Russia and Vietnam. About one to two students started coming to the school and now there are more than 20 of them.”

BY KIM YOUN-HO [shin.sooyeon@joongang.co.kr]


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