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Korean Wave in Uzbekistan우즈베키스탄의 한류
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승인 2013.10.04  19:38:24
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       The sunlight of Uzbekistan in June was hot and bright. Walking on the street for only five minutes on foot, my back got damp with sweat. The People of Uzbekistan said that they are accustomed to hot days with high temperatures over 40 Degrees Celsius. However, their interest about Korea was much hotter than the scorching sun.  The Uzbekistanis we met in Tashkent kept asking about Korean dramas, films and music which they were exposed to on the Internet. In what respect did they have such an interest in Korean culture?


 Students of King Sejong Institute in Tashkent


Korean Language and Culture Education
The Chonnam Tribune visited two educational institutions officially approved from the Korean government in Tashkent for teaching students who want to learn about Korean language and culture. King Sejong Institute (KSI) approved by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea has 280 students and six teachers every year. Students learn Korean with the textbook written according to the Russian grammar system in order to make them study efficiently and easily. Teachers of the institute not only focus on the ability to study Korean, they also put emphasis on attendance. If a student is absent over three times, he or she cannot finish the three month course. Hur Seon-haeng, the president of KSI in Tashkent, always says to his students, “Put efforts to make bread, that is to learn ‘Korean’ which will never disappear no matter how many times you eat it.”
Another institution is the Tashkent Korean Education Center (TKEC) approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Every semester, 1200 students take classes for free and 20 teaching staff works for the center. They teach Korean not only for introducing Korean culture but also for helping “Koryoin,” or ethnic Koreans scattered throughout the Soviet Union clarify their identity. “Our center is a passage for learning about Korea. These days, the number of local students is increasing more than that of Koryoin students and we keep pace with this trend by enlarging the facilities’ scale,” said Cho Cheol-soo, the director of TKEC. Despite the scorching temperatures, there was no air conditioner, and classroom 305 at the center of the institute was bustling with about 50 teachers learning how to fold traditional Korean paper for their classes.
The number of Korean departments in Uzbekistan is increasing because of the demands and 13 universities provide Korean language and literature courses as of 2013. Among them, we also met the faculty and students of the Korean Department in Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies. It was founded in 1991 and has held Korean Speaking Contests every year since. According to the dean of the department, Kim Viktoriya, the institute also has the departments of Korean economy, history, philosophy, and created the Department of Korean for Interpretation and Translation last year. Erdanova Hulkar (Graduate, Korean Department) said Korean is part of her life. She won the championship in the 2012 Korean quiz program held in Seoul beating out the other 22 rivals from different countries. Since the program began, students of Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies have won the championship of the quiz program held in Uzbekistan.
Korean Diaspora in Uzbekistan
By understanding the history of Uzbekistan, we can more deeply figure out the reason why Uzbek people, especially Koryoin, have been studying the Korean language. In 1937, Stalin, the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s Central Committee, forced Korean people to go to Central Asia. Kim Vladimir, the author of the book ”People Left Far Away”, said the order was disappointing but they did not have choice. “There was nowhere to go. Korea was too far and we had to survive in a strange place.” Living in an unfamiliar town, Korean-Uzbekistanis had to learn Russian to go to university and get a better job. Russian speaking competence decided their quality of life. Although 60 years had passed, it has been unchanged except language. Now they are studying Korean to live like their parents used to.
People in Uzbekistan feel a sense of closeness to Korean culture especially, Korean dramas. After Korean dramas flowed into Uzbekistan about five years ago, they became the new sensation. They can relate to the main characters of the dramas that obey their parents. “When I saw ”Daejangguem” on television, the Korean subtitles were interesting and I wanted to learn the language,” said Berdikobilov Nodirbek (Senior, Korean Department). After watching other dramas, he came to know that there are similarities in national characteristics between Korean and Uzbekistan. “From Korean grammar to dining etiquette, Korean culture is almost the same as ours. That is why I wanted to learn Korean and fully understand what people say in the dramas,” said Yusupova Gulchexra, one of the teachers teaching Korean at TKEC.
Korean Language for a Better Future
The people I met in Uzbekistan became interested in Korea after watching Korean Dramas and studied Korean for various different reasons such as employment and studying abroad. If they can speak Korean well, they can easily find a job and go to university not just in their country but also in Korea. According to President Hur of KSI who graduated from the Ethics Education Department at Chonnam National University, more and more Uzbekistanis are trying to find jobs in Korea, and students of the institute are learning Korean for studying abroad. “I want to go to one of the universities in Korea in order to live with my family together,” said Park Victoria, the graduated student of KSI in Tashkent.
Before going abroad and meeting foreigners, is I did not believe that the number of people excited about the Korean culture was increasing worldwide. It is clear that they showed lots of interest in Korea and asked many questions every moment. With many of those who have the hungry curiosity about Korea, those hot days in Uzbekistan will remain as an unforgettable memory to me.

By Son Hyun-jee, Student Editor

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