Korean language rising in popularity among Saudis

There are a variety of reasons why Saudis want to learn Korean. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 July 2019
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Korean language rising in popularity among Saudis

  • Korean is the 20th most spoken language in the world, and is gaining popularity as the second foreign language across Asia

JEDDAH: Korean music and TV, better known as K-pop and K-drama, have relished a momentous rise in popularity all over the world.

As Korean soap operas and pop groups have captivated audiences, Korean has become an appealing language to learn. Now, Saudis are joining the growing crowd of enthusiasts.

There are a variety of reasons why Saudis want to learn Korean: To enjoy watching their favorite shows in the original language, to visit and experience the culture of Korea first-hand, or even to move to South Korea. 

“Most of my students loved K-pop and Korean dramas, and they wanted to expand their knowledge by learning the language,” Myung Hee Park from the Korean International School in Jeddah told Arab News.

“Sometimes they learned the language because they wanted to understand the shows without having to read the English subtitles.”

People from all over Saudi Arabia are traveling to Korea to attend concerts and watch their favorite artists perform.

“Lots of the people who come to learn from me have an experience of visiting Korea and enjoying concerts by artists such as BTS, Monsta X or SM Town,” Myung said.

Saudi appreciation of Korea does not stop at entertainment. “Some of my students wanted to study at Korean universities too,” Myung said.

Last November, 51 people took part in the first Ambassador’s Cup Korean Speech competition, held at the official residence of the South Korean ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Jo Byung-wook. The competition was organized to promote the country’s culture, language and heritage.

“The growing interest in learning the Korean language in Saudi Arabia shows the strength of our bilateral relations,” said the ambassador.

“Korean is the 20th most spoken language in the world, and is gaining popularity as the second foreign language across Asia, the US and even the Middle East.”

Myung said: “There are many (cultural) similarities between the two countries, and I think that’s one of the reasons why Saudis have fallen in love with Korean culture so easily.”

She said Prince Sultan Al-Faisal Al-Saud “is an amazing student. Even when he comes back from long business trips, he resumes his lessons the very next day. I can see joy in the eyes of the people I’m teaching, and it makes my profession very rewarding.”

English teacher Amira Mohammad Al-Khateeb, who has been learning Korean, said: “It’s one of the languages that I’ve always wanted to learn. I’ve been watching Korean dramas for years, and at some point I sat myself down and said, ‘Amira you must learn the language now.’ I was delighted to find the school in Jeddah.”

She added: “After I learn the language, I intend to go to Korea and become a teacher there. I don’t just want to speak Korean for fun, I want to become a part of Korean culture.”


KSRelief medics’ timely intervention saves Yemeni infant’s life

Updated 24 August 2019
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KSRelief medics’ timely intervention saves Yemeni infant’s life

  • Jana’s father thanked the medical team for saving his daughter’s life. 

MUKALLA: A volunteer medical team from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has saved the life of a Yemeni girl who was suffering from a severe lack of oxygen in the blood, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Jana Basheaib was born with a blockage in the pulmonary valve and a constriction of the tricuspid valve in her heart that prevented the delivery of blood to her lungs, leading to a severe lack of oxygen in her body that required urgent intervention.

Her father Adnan said he had noticed her dark blue color days after she was born, but had not been able to find treatment for her in Yemen. She was also too sick to be moved abroad. 

His brother connected him with a KSRelief team so that the 10-day-old infant could get the help she needed. 

FASTFACTS

•KSRelief is working in Yemen with comprehensive plans to alleviate people’s suffering.

•The center has implemented 363 projects across the country at a cost of $2.26 billion.

•The projects cover various sectors including food security, health and education.

Basheaib filed a report describing her condition and received an immediate response from KSRelief, saying it would send a medical team to Yemen and an appointment for surgery was made.

Basheaib took his daughter from Tarim to Mukalla, a six-hour drive. Upon arrival at the Pulse of Life Center for Cardiology, Jana was immediately admitted to the intensive care unit. The medical team arrived in time to successfully perform the surgery.

He thanked the medical team for saving his daughter’s life. 

The head of the KSRelief medical team, Prof. Jameel Ata, said: “The medical campaign comes within the framework of the voluntary campaigns to treat difficult and critical cases. This is KSRelief’s third campaign for open-heart surgeries and catheterizations for Yemeni children in less than six months.”

The medical campaigns have covered the treatment of more than 20 children from Yemen’s low-income families to alleviate their suffering.