Vietnamese Language Students Flock to Korea

  • By Park Sang-hyun

    November 08, 2018 13:38

    More and more Vietnamese students are coming to Korea to learn Korean. The number of Vietnamese students studying Korean at universities here soared from 1,094 in 2013 to 20,977 last year, overtaking even the 14,996 Chinese as the biggest group of foreign language students.

    The students come on a D-4 visa, which grants them up to two years of stay. They mostly say they became interested in learning Korean because of the many Korean companies in Vietnam. As of June, over 5,000 Korean companies had branches in major Vietnamese cities.

    Samsung produces 150 million smartphones near Hanoi, half the company's entire annual production, and employs 160,000 people there. LG has a manufacturing complex in the northern Vietnamese port of Haiphong, where it has been increasing investment in the electronics and display sectors.

    As Korean companies expanded their presence there, young Vietnamese people started to learn Korean to increase their chances of being hired by them because they generally provide better job conditions than local employers.

    Vietnamese students attend a Korean language class at Yonsei University in Seoul on Wednesday.

    Most of the students are in mid- to late twenties and either just graduated from university or they are trying to change their job and get into Korean companies.

    One 25-year-old Vietnamese student at Kyunghee University in Seoul quit her job at an entertainment agency in Vietnam. "If you can get into a major Korean company, you can get paid twice as much," she said.

    Another 25-year-old Vietnamese woman who has been studying Korean at Yonsei University in Seoul came to Korea in 2016 after quitting her job. Her goal now is to work for Samsung or LG in Vietnam. "My Vietnamese friends consider Korean companies the best workplaces," she said. "The salary is high and working conditions are good, so many young university students have plans to study in Korea."

    According to the statistics from Vietnam's Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the average monthly salary of university graduates was 7.49 million Vietnamese dong (W360,000), whereas that of the Vietnamese branch of Samsung, which gives incentives to workers who can speak Korean, was 12 million dong (W580,000).

    The huge popularity of Korean TV shows and pop music is another factor that pulls young Vietnamese people here. Universities are trying to take advantage of this new demand as the numbers of domestic students and Chinese students dwindle.

    Some universities offer special language courses that can lead to official entrance to four-year university programs.

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