However, more recently, as South Korea began to flourish through economic and social improvements, many countries in the world began to acknowledge the South as a country of great prospects. This improved image helped jumpstart some foreign nations interests in adopting the Korean language as a desirable foreign language to be taught and learned in schools.
Professor Vincenza D"Urso, an Italian national, of the Universita Ca" Foscari Venezia of Italy, explained, "Asia will be or already is, a very important center of political, economical and cultural innovation, a very important reference point for the whole "West, and Korea"s place in Asia has been recognized." Professor D"Urso, who has been teaching Korean language courses for more than four years at the university, believes that the Korean language is viewed as the missing link, the necessary piece to be added to the "puzzle" of East Asia. She added that the decision to establish Korean language courses was an open recognition of the importance of Korea in the East Asian region, not only to present times, but also to the past.
Professor D"Urso also pointed out that the reason why the Korean language courses lure students is because they help in understanding the entire East Asian region. The popularity that Korea gained in Italy has grown steadily, leading to a wider "curiosity."
However, the professor expressed her concerns about the difficulties that these courses are facing: "Lack of teaching staff is the major difficulty. Unfortunately, I am the only professor who is teaching this course and I need help with the work."
Professor D"Urso was worried about the lack of resources from the moment she started to teach. Fortunately, with generous grants from the Korea Foundation, the university now has 1,500 books in its library, yet still not enough for what the school sees as sufficient.
"We need more funds for both primary and secondary sources," says Professor D"Urso.
According to her, several measures need to be taken into consideration to actively promote the Korean language. First, more funds for the current teaching staff are needed. Secondly, in order to open at least one other course, funds for books and teaching materials need to be provided. And lastly, the opening of exchange programs for teaching staff and students with Korean universities must be established.
Aside from Venezia University, other universities and language institutes around the world have expressed their intention to adopt Korean language courses. Hannam University has established a sisterhood program with the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, to open Korean language courses.
Last month, the Korean Language Research Institute in France decided to promote the Korean language by collecting Korean books in various university libraries in France to make a microfilm for each document for preservation.
The recent interest around the world in the Korean language can further promote South Korea"s rise in the global economic and political arena, and the positive things that have been happening on the peninsula, shifting away the focus from the crisis brought on by its division.