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Seoul to establish Korean language centers in labor-exporting countries
SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- Seoul plans to establish four or five state-run Korean language institutes in Asian countries that export manual workers to South Korea in a bid to offer them language and culture training in advance, the labor ministry said Tuesday.

   The "Sejong Hakdang (School)," named after King Sejong of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) who invented the Korean alphabet, Hangeul, runs language education programs for foreigners learning Korean as a second language.

   The Ministry of Employment and Labor said it consulted with the culture ministry that runs the language programs over the plan to allocate four or five of around 13 institutes set to be established this year to these Asian countries. The labor ministry said it received a positive answer.

   The two ministries will choose among the 15 Asian countries sending workers to South Korea by June based on such standards as the numbers of workers being sent and demands of Korean language education, officials said.

   "The workers will have opportunities to learn Korean and Korean culture through the Sejong Hakdangs in advance," said an official from the labor ministry. "We expect that the prior language education will help improve the workers' communication skills, leading to an increase in their labor productivity and decrease in industrial accidents."

   South Korea imports around 40,000 foreign workers annually from the 15 countries, including Vietnam, Mongolia and Sri Lanka. Seoul currently has 82 Sejong Hakdangs in 19 nations, including the United States, Japan and Russia.