|Students take the National Institute for International Education’s Test of Proficiency in Korean at Kyung Hee University in Seoul on Sunday. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)|
The cumulative number of applicants for the state-managed Korean language proficiency test has topped the 1 million mark, officials said Sunday, indicating the rapid spread of the “hallyu,” or the Korean wave, abroad.
The education ministry said a total of 18,702 people applied for the 29th Test of Proficiency in Korean, a test for non-Korean natives interested in school admissions and job searches in South Korea, raising the cumulative total to 1,015,013.
TOPIK, which measures ability to understand Korean grammar, reading, listening and writing, was administered at 18 locations in Seoul, Busan and other provincial cities on Sunday.
Launched in 1997, TOPIK is offered four times a year ― twice in South Korea and twice in South Korea and 60 other countries, for people preparing to work or study here as well as those wishing to work for South Korean firms’ overseas branches and plants.
The number of TOPIK applicants has steadily increased, rising from 2,692 in 1997 to 34,028 in 2006 to 151,166 last year, according to the test’s administrator, National Institute for International Education.
“The number of applicants for TOPIK has skyrocketed with the spread of hallyu and Korean companies’ offshore expansion,”said an official at the institute.
Of the applicants for the 29th test, 44.9 percent, or 8,400, cited study in South Korea as their motive, followed by improvement of Korean language ability at 25 percent and employment at 13.5 percent. (Yonhap News)