The Korean alphabet, "Hangeul," has become a second foreign language for the college entrance examination in Thailand, the center of "Hallyu," the global popularity of Korean dramas, movies and pop songs, the South Korean Embassy here said Friday.
"The Council of University Presidents of Thailand has recently notified us of its decision to adopt the Korean language as an optional second foreign language subject at its college entrance test," an embassy official said.
In explaining its decision, the council backgrounded that many secondary schools and colleges in Thailand are teaching Hangeul and that more and more students show increasing interest in it, according to the official.
"The adoption is expected to be applied from the 2018 college entrance test that will be carried out in the latter half of next year," the official said.
Thailand is the first Southeast Asian nation to make the adoption. The United States, Australia, France and Japan have already done so.
The Thai government adopted Hangeul as a second foreign language in 2008, and South Korea dispatched some 50 Korean-language teachers in compliance with the Thai government's request the following year. The Seoul government has also helped train some locals as Hangeul teachers, and set up Hangeul institutions in the country.
As a result, the number of students learning Hangeul soared from about 3,000 at some 30 schools in 2010 to 25,000 at 120 schools as of now, the official said. (Yonhap)