The growing popularity of Korean food overseas is boosting the number of aspiring chefs. According to data from the Labor Ministry on Wednesday, 285,000 candidates sat the test for a certificate in Korean cooking last year, up 18 percent from 2008. The certificate in Korean cuisine ranked fourth in terms of number of applicants among 556 skill certificates awarded by the government.
Since 2005, over 200,000 people took the test per year, but the recent popularity was unexpected since the number of test takers had been on the decrease until 2008 after peaking at 249,000 in 2006. The surge is attributable to the growing interest in Korean food overseas, the ministry said.
Of the state-awarded skill certificates, the IT sector had the largest number of applicants. The first-grade certificate in word-processing skills topped the list last year with 338,000 candidates, followed by the second-grade word-processing certificate with 299,000 and the second-grade certificate in computer operating proficiency with 288,000. But the number of applicants for the first-grade word-processing test has been falling since 2006, when it was 589,000.
"As the ability to prepare documents on a computer is regarded as basic, the need to verify the skill is decreasing," a ministry official said. Currently, those holding the certificates are given bonus points when they sit for civil service exams, but the points will be reduced or scrapped starting 2011.