Learn to be cool in Korea

Overseas-education | Crystal Wu 8 Jun 2021

K-culture has swept across the world recently, and Hong Kong is no exception. Dressing in K-fashion, listening to K-pop, and watching K-dramas are all the rage at the moment, but what about K-education, where people can study while learning about the country and its culture?

"Despite the Covid pandemic, we still observed a general increase in interest in Korean culture among the people of Hong Kong," said the Korean Cultural Center in Hong Kong. The KCC is a nonprofit institution affiliated with the local consulate general of the Republic of Korea which aims to promote Korean culture.

The Korean education system is similar to Hong Kong's - both have six years of primary school and six years of secondary school, divided into middle and high school, which leads to usually four years of tertiary education. Primary and middle school education is compulsory in both Hong Kong and Korea.

In Korea, universities can be divided into three types. National universities are established and managed by the central government, public universities by local governments, and private universities by nonprofit educational organizations.

The most prestigious universities are dubbed "SKY," an acronym for Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University. Korea and Yonsei are private institutes. All three ranked within the world's top 200 universities in this year's Times ranking, so there is fierce competition among Korean students for places at these three schools.

Most full-time degrees require international students to take the Test of Proficiency in Korean, so you might have to take the TOPIK in addition to the IELTS or the TOEFL, depending on the language the degree is taught in.

The general minimum requirement for admissions is a level three or above in the TOPIK, which is divided into six levels, with the first two for beginners. The exams will be held two more times in Hong Kong this year.

Other than full-time degrees, international students who are interested in studying in Korea can also choose to take exchange programs and Korean language programs, which vary in length from three to 40 weeks.

While flying to Korea may not be the most feasible plan at the moment given the pandemic, free Korean language classes are offered by the KCC in Hong Kong.

"Our regular semester usually starts in spring and autumn and lasts for 15 to 20 weeks," says the KCC. "Courses are mainly conducted in Korean by native Korean teachers."

The language classes are held online instead of at the center's classroom at PMQ due to Covid.

The KCC and the consulate general is also preparing for its annual Korean Consul General Cup, a Korean public speaking competition, with the aim of promoting Korean language among Hongkongers and to enhance people's interest in learning Korean.

Now in its fifth year, the contest is cohosted with the King Sejong Institute Foundation and the Korean Studies Program at the University of Hong Kong.

"We hope to work closer with local universities which provide Korean language programs to Hong Kong students in the near future," the group said.

Hong Kong residents who do not have Korean nationality or immediate Korean family members are eligible to join. They must also be over 18 and not have lived in Korea for more than two years.

"Our center will continue to make every endeavor to provide a platform for sharing Korean culture with Hong Kong residents through a variety of cultural activities, to expand exchanges between cultural organizations in Korea and Hong Kong, and to promote mutual visits between the two places, aiming to further contribute to the development of Korea-Hong Kong relations," it said.

Applications for the fifth Korean Consul General Cup end on June 11. More details can be found on hk.korean-culture.org


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