The Woman Who Taught Hong Kong to Speak Korean

      January 28, 2010 07:07

      Lee Su-kyung holds an award for distinguished service from President Lee Myung-bak.

      One petite woman created a boom in Korean language education in Hong Kong, reports the Apple Daily, and Mingpao News says the number of students learning Korean at the Chinese University of Hong Kong doubled in a decade. When Lee Su-kyung received an award for distinguished service from Korean President Lee Myung-bak, no fewer than five major newspapers in Hong Kong reported the story.

      The head of the Korean Language Education and Culture Center at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at CUHH, Lee has been teaching Korean at the university for 11 years. When she set up the first classes in 2000, they started with 70 students, but now over 1,000 people are taking the classes every year, the papers said.

      In 2003, Lee introduced the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) in Hong Kong and since then some 3,000 people have taken the test. She has been organizing an annual Korean speech contest since 2005. For these efforts and her contribution to promoting cultural exchanges between the two countries, Lee received an award for overseas Koreans.

      She started the work when her husband Lee Hong-hwa, an economics professor at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, came to City University of Hong Kong in 2000. She told CUHH through its website that she wanted to teach Korean and was given a job. Because it was the very first Korean-language education program in Hong Kong, it was an enormous task. Over the last 11 years she has taught some 2,500 people. Many take courses for several years.

      What is the general make up of the students? "Many undergraduates learn it academically, but there are plenty of professionals who take courses. We have executives of global banks and fund managers, civil servants in the Hong Kong government, teachers and university staff... it's so diverse," she says.

      Already the next goal is clear in her mind. "I would like to help Korean get adopted as one of the second foreign languages in elementary and secondary schools in Hong Kong, and help more students go to Korea to study. In order to realize that goal, we need more attention from the Korean government, and Koreans and Korean companies in Hong Kong."

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