ICKC will begin its movement targeting the public schools in the United States. The main reason is that the US public schools have an institutional foundation that enables local schools to adopt Korean language as second or foreign language. We also believe that once ICKC's goal of securing 1,000 US schools adopting Hanguel and Taekwondo as formal courses is achieved, it will then much easier to expand our movement to other regions.
In recent years, the US federal government has continuously increased its budget for the education of foreign language at public schools. In 1997, the US government included Korean language among 9 other foreign languages (including Chinese and Japanese) on the SAT-II (Scholastic Aptitude Test), in the Flagship Scholarship Program in 2000, and the Critical Language Initiative in 2008. Finally, the State Department's National Security Langage Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), originally started by the George W. Bush administration expanded its program after Barack Obama took office in 2009, including Korean language along with Chinese, Arabic, Rusian, Turkish, and Persian.
The purpose of the program, as described in a grant proposal, is to increase mutual understanding, strengthen ties and develop friendly peaceful relations between the people of Korea and other countries. The U.S. government wishes to prepare these students to become global leaders.
Due to a series of changes in the US policy, the number of U.S. teenagers taking part in an intensive Korean language course has increased dramatically in the recent years. Korean is now the world`s 13th most-spoken language. It is spoken by more than 77 million people around the world, including South and North Korea, North and South America and various Asian regions, according to the data provided by Korea Educational Development Institute.
Another example of growing popularity of Hanguel is shown in a tribe in Indonesia who has begun using Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, as their writing system to express their spoken aboriginal language, which is on the verge of extinction. It is the first time the alphabet has been officially adopted outside the Korean Peninsula. The 60,000 people in the city of Baubau, located in Buton of Souteast Sulawesi, Indonesia, has been working to transcribe its native language "Jjia jjia" into Hangeul.
If the experiment to use Hangeul to transcribe the Butonese language is successful, it will pave the way for adoption by more minority tribes whose languages face extinction. Hangeul may indeed become a tool in preserving cultural diversity as well as dissipating knowledge among people who do not have writing systems. ccording to the UNESCO Atlas of World`s Languages in Danger, there are some 6,500 languages in the world, 6,100 of them without a writing system. If Hangeul is adopted as their alphabets, it could enable them to have a written record of their culture and tradition, and thus transforming King Sejong`s legacy to become one of Korea's most significant exports.