An article published on The Diplomat magazine has looked for the reason behind an increasing number of people in the Republic of Korea learning Vietnamese, a less familiar language compared to English.
The opening ceremony of a Vietnamese language course for people in the Republic of Korea
It opened by showing that 800 Koreans took the language proficiency test Vietnamese Oral Proficiency Interview in 2017, jumping by 15 percent from 2016.
Meanwhile, a Vietnamese language course at the Seoul-based online language education Siwon School saw a 4-percent increase in the number of students and an 11-percent increase in sales every month since it was first launched in November 2016.
The article said the number of RoK people learning Vietnamese is not huge, but its growth is not a coincidence, regarding the context of the two countries fortifying their ties, particularly in trade.
RoK’s exports to Vietnam rose by 46.3 percent last year, and more than doubled over the last three years. Vietnam is now expected to become RoK’s second largest export market by 2020.
At the end of 2017, about 5,500 RoK firms operated in Vietnam. This makes the RoK the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam, with total direct investment reaching a record-high 7.4 billion USD in the first 11 months of 2017.
The article noted Vietnam’s rapidly growing economy played an important role in the economic ties growth. It said Samsung is taking the lead of RoK investment in Vietnam, followed by other firms such as Lotte and CJ. Smaller players have also targeted the Vietnamese market. The Seoul-based general cooking and food company Ourhome has recently begun to provide Vietnamese language courses for its employees ahead of its expansion to the country.
By the end of 2017, only 4.9 percent of high school students in RoK decided to take Vietnamese as a second language test for their university entrance exam, lagging behind Chinese and Japanese at 5.4 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively. However, the article said the situation might change soon.