The Korean language is spoken by over 75 million people in the world, including more than 51 million South Koreans and 25 million North Koreans. Learning Korean language communication skills is important for understanding more about these countries and their cultures, whether you’re interested in the latest Korean pop groups like BTS, Korean food like bibimbap, bulgogi, and kimchi, or want to visit the fast-paced, high-tech South Korean capital of Seoul.
Korean can also be an important language for pursuing business opportunities. According to the World Bank, South Korea has a GDP of over $1 trillion, led by major global industrial conglomerates (called chaebols) such as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG that are some of the largest and most successful companies in the world. North Korea, by contrast, currently has a closed economy with extremely limited business opportunities for foreigners; however, this could change in the future and make Korean language skills an even more valuable asset.
Korean language skills can be helpful for many business careers, especially in the electronics and technology sectors. Being able to communicate with representatives of South Korean chaebols like Samsung in their native language is a tremendous and relatively rare capability, and these language skills can help bridge cultural gaps that can make or break negotiations.
If you have fluent or near-fluent skills in Korean speech, writing, and grammar, you can pursue a career as an interpreter or translator. Working to facilitate smooth communications between business and political leaders can be an exciting career, full of international travel and high-profile work opportunities, and translating Korean texts and movies can be an incredibly rewarding cultural experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, interpreters and translators earned a median annual salary of $51,830 in 2019, and these jobs are expected to grow much faster than average due to the increasing globalization of the economy.
Yes - or, eung, in Korean! Coursera offers opportunities to learn a wide range of foreign languages, including Korean. You can learn about the Korean language as well as aspects of Korean culture, economics, and politics from Yonsei University, one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea. And because Coursera lets you learn Korean language skills on a flexible schedule from anywhere in the world, this opportunity can fit into your existing work or family life.
Curiosity and good reading skills are typically needed before starting to learn Korean. It can also help if you master the Korean alphabet, which is known as the Hangul, before studying the language, though it can also be learned as part of your language studies. This can help because it gives you an opportunity to recognize the sound of each letter as well as the letter itself. Being a dedicated student who is focused, and making a plan to study each day before you begin your lessons can help you when studying Korean.
People who are interested in Korean culture are typically best suited for roles in Korean. People who have a linguistic gift are also well suited for these roles, as are people who are willing to invest time in studying the language. Additionally, people who are interested in social change, family roles, and gender issues can be well suited to these roles. Those who are planning to conduct business in Korea or with Korean people in a domestic setting can also be suited to the positions available after studying the language.
Becoming a translator who helps Koreans and non-Korean-speaking people interact is typically one of the common career paths for someone who has learned Korean. Another common career path for someone in Korean is to become a travel guide who explains local tourist destinations to Korean-speaking guests. Educators and tutors are two other potential career paths. Additionally, there are some government positions and international trade positions that require travel to Korea or interacting with Korean-language speakers.
Some topics you can study that are related to Korean language studies include Korean culture and Asian studies. International trade is another study option to consider. Some other key topics to consider studying that are related to the Korean language include Confucianism, the country’s cyberculture, and topics that connect your main field of study to the language. This might include IT courses that you could use if building Korean-language websites and architectural studies that you could use if building in Korea using blueprints that are written in Korean.
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