By Bae Ji-sook
The number of foreigners taking Korean proficiency tests has been on the rise.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said Sunday the increase demonstrates the fact that the Korean language is gaining acknowledgement around the world.
The number of applications for the 15th session of the Test of Proficiency in Korean, as known as TOPIK, to be held from April 18 to 19, totaled 96,141 people from 25 countries including China, Japan, the United States and Korea. The number is about a 40 percent jump from a year ago.
Chinese took the lion's share of 76,298, with Koreans, Japanese, Americans and Uzbekistanis following with 9,527, 4,512, 1,568 and 988, respectively.
A law was revised in 2007 obliging Chinese to take the test to get a work visa here.
``More countries are also selecting Korean language subjects at school and since many foreign students visit Korean schools, it's quite natural that the test is getting popular,'' it said.
TOPIK was adopted in 1997 for foreigners or ethnic Koreans who didn't know the language. The annual test started with a modest number of 2,274 applicants in 1997, but soon expanded to be taken in 25 countries with 97 regions. This year, tests are taken every six months. Pakistan, the Czech Republic and Egypt are the most recent countries to have the test.
The government plans to integrate another Korean proficiency test, the EPS-KLT for migrant workers visiting under the employment permit system, and to make TOPIK a competitive brand such as TOEIC, Test of English for International Communication, or TOEFL, Test of English as a Foreign Language.