As China continues its rise, interest in its language has increased around the world, and Korea is no exception.
Chinese language education is estimated to be worth W500 to W600 billion (US$1=W1,021) as of last year and has grown 20 percent each year for the past decade. In-person learning accounts for 80 percent of the market, and private language academies have been shifting their focus from English to Chinese.
Chinese language programs for children are also booming. Chinese is practically a required class in private kindergartens along with English, and even Chinese-language kindergartens are springing up, especially in the affluent Gangnam area. In total, 66.2 percent of private elementary schools teach Chinese in some form.
Domestic companies are also growing more interested in Chinese speakers during the hiring process. CJ, Eland, LG Chem and Samsung give bonus points to applicants who speak Chinese, making it a skill many now need to find jobs.
More than 20,000 Korean companies have made inroads in the Chinese market so even though more people are studying Chinese than ever before, businesses still struggle to recruit competent Chinese-speaking employees.