Government will look into offering Korean as a foreign language in schools: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking to reporters at the close of his five-day visit to South Korea on Nov 26, 2019. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

BUSAN - The Government will look into offering offering Korean as a foreign language in schools, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Speaking to reporters at the close of his five-day visit to South Korea on Tuesday (Nov 26), he said: "We will look at that. There's some interest because people follow Korean movies and K-pop."

Examples of third languages currently offered to students in Ministry of Education (MOE) schools include Japanese, French, German and Spanish.

But there are practical considerations, said Mr Lee, who pointed out that Singapore's exams were conducted by the Cambridge examination syndicate. "And I'm not sure that they actually run a Korean language exam - we will think about this," he said.

"But I hope Singaporeans will pick up Korean, whether or not it is a third language in schools. I think there are many opportunities - some of them actually go to Korea to study Korean."

Examinations such as the GCE O and A levels in Singapore are jointly conducted by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, the MOE as well as the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board.

During an official lunch hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in last Saturday (Nov 23), PM Lee had noted the huge draw of Korean culture and food for many Singaporeans - a trend that had led to bilateral tourism figures more than doubling in the last 10 years to 860,000 in 2018.

He is in South Korea for a bilateral visit and to attend the Asean-Republic of Korea (ROK) Commemorative Summit held in Busan. He leaves Busan on Wednesday.

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