The popularity of Korean movies and TV dramas has made City University (CityU) launch a programme aimed at promoting the region's language and culture in Hong Kong. An associate degree course in Korean and Chinese/English bilingual communication studies, to be launched this summer, is the first of its kind in the SAR. It hopes to provide students with a strong foundation in Korean language and contemporary culture, including an understanding of Korean business practices, for application in the workplace or for further studies. To help students develop all-round skills, they will also be given training in desktop publishing and internet communication. 'The Korean component in the programme provides a strong foundation, enabling students to acquire an appropriate level of proficiency in spoken and written Korean,' said deputy programme leader Kang Kim Hye-won. 'In addition to receiving practical language training, students will also learn about Korean culture and society.' Implemented by CityU's Community College, the new course is a self-financing, two-year full-time or three-year part-time programme. The tuition fee for the full-time course is $45,000 per year. Currently, CityU offers elective Korean language courses to more than 450 students each year. Korean businesses in Hong Kong believe there will be enough job opportunities for the graduates. 'More than 700 Korean firms operate in Hong Kong and many multinationals with branches in the region need employees who can speak Korean,' said Lee Myun-gwan, chairman of the Korean Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. 'Employment opportunities in information technology, creative media, trading and tourism will be available for the graduates.' Former CityU students who took Korean courses said they found 'ideal' jobs. Karen Yip Yuk-shan, who works in the Hong Kong branch of a Korean advertising company is the only local staff member who can speak and write Korean. 'I'm really glad that I studied the language. As I 'm the only one who can communicate in Chinese and Korean in my office, I'm responsible for liaising with the headquarters and translating documents,' said Ms Yip. She was awarded a scholarship by CityU to attend an intensive summer course at Kyung Hee University in Seoul. 'Korean is not that hard to learn. The characters are easy to recognise. Perhaps the most difficult part is the grammar. It's similar to tenses in English.' Ms Yip said it would not be hard for the associate degree graduates to find a job. 'There are many local companies doing business with Korea. And most of the Hong Kong students can speak English, Cantonese and Mandarin. If they also speak Korean, it will be a great advantage.' Details about the new programme will be posted at www.cityu.edu.hk/cityu/dpt-acad/col.htm later. For more information, call 2788 8524.