Two French high schools have started to offer the Korean language as a formal subject, a Korean education center in Paris said Thursday, indicating a growing interest in the country among the French.
Lycee Francois Magendie in the southwestern city of Bordeaux picked Korean as a regular foreign language subject at the start of the new academic year earlier this month, and has begun to teach 20 students who signed up for the course, according to the center run by South Korea's education ministry.
Another secondary school in Paris, Lycee-College Victor Duruy, also launched Korean language classes on Wednesday following a course presentation attended by more than 70 students. The course prepares students who wish to include Korean in their French university entrance exams, known as the baccalaureat.
"The Korean language has now been introduced as a regular subject in French high schools, 55 years after Korean language classes first opened at Paris-Sorbonne University," said Choi Jeong-rye, head of the Korean education center. "We expect it to be a significant step in introducing Korean as a formal subject in French elementary and middle schools as well."
The center has held regular sessions on Korean language and culture in 23 schools across the country, allowing more than 3,500 French students to learn about various aspects of Korea's arts, history and economy.The growing interest in the language comes as South Korean popular culture has gained enormous popularity in many parts of the world, including Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
In June, five South Korean pop bands -- TVXQ, Girls' Generation, Super Junior, SHINee and f(x) -- held their first concert in Paris in front of some 7,000 fans, marking a successful debut on the European stage.