Hindi as a subject is fast emerging as a favourite among Korean students. A majority of students enrolled for the short-term Hindi courses at Delhi University are from South Korea.
The reason seems clear enough — more job prospects in India with industry majors like Samsung, LG and Hyundai spreading their network in the sub-continent. With 200 Korean companies here and many more keen to set shop, India is the land of opportunities, says MJ Park, director, Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency.
Park says so far Korean companies concentrated in the machinery (including automobile), electronics, steel products, textile and petro-chemical products sector, but recently a lot of interest has been shown in retail, banking and insurance.
“Earlier, Korea’s attention was on China. But now the scope for growth is greater in India,” says Park. Over 3,000 South Korean nationals are working and studying in India at present and learning Hindi seems like a prudent decision.
Of the 28 foreign students enrolled in the certificate, diploma and advanced courses in Hindi, 14 are from South Korea. Young professionals trained in marketing, advertising and computer sciences are now flocking to learn Hindi to equip themselves for a management job in South Korean MNCs.
“I have a Master’s degree in computer science from Seoul. Learning Hindi will improve my job prospects here. Companies need people who know the local language and culture,” says Huo Jong Cheol, a South Korean student at DU.
Park Soon Ki, is a graduate in global marketing and advertising from Busan and says he moved to Delhi on the advice of his Korean professor. “He told me there is lots happening here,” says Ki.
Both the students are also travelling and learning the nuances of Indian culture. “I have travelled from Leh to Thiruvananthapuram and often visit Varanasi. I am also learning to play the sitar,” says Huo.
His efforts are not much different from the Korean expats who learn Hindi to improve their ability to interact with workers.
“Many of them speak fluent English, but workers in the factory speak Hindi. We had a programme for senior Korean executives to spend a year in India learning the local language, assimilating the culture and exploring local markets,” says Ruchika Batra, GM (corporate communication) Samsung.