Cwmbran High School is the first state school in Wales to set up a Korean language class.
The after-school class started in May 2021, four months before Squid Game appeared on Netflix. Since the programme became a worldwide hit more pupils have asked to join the weekly session but it’s been full since the first lesson.
Cwmbran Life attended a class this week and watched tutor Daesuk Yang bring the language to life by replicating Red Light Green Light– one of the games in Squid Game. He took them out to a grassed area to play 무궁화 꽃이 피었습니다 (mugunghwa kkochi piotsseumnida). This roughly translates as “the hibiscus has flower bloomed.”
Pupils were able to move towards him as his back was turned while he called out “mugunghwa kkochi piotsseumnida” but they had to freeze when he turned around. At that moment anyone he spotted moving was told to leave the game. The winners of each game took turns to be the caller.
Each week Daesuk uses different methods to help the pupils learn the language. It’s working as there is almost 100% attendance every week.
Catherine Adams, teacher in charge of modern foreign languages at the school, saw that funding was available from the Korean Education Centre. The centre is part of the Korean Embassy and all costs are covered by the Ministry of Education of the Government of South Korea.
Now the 18 pupils from years 7-11 meet up with Daesuk for a one-hour class every Wednesday. She said one private school in Wales had a Korean class and two more state schools are getting ready to start teaching the language.
Catherine added: “I researched Korean lessons online having discovered that many pupils were learning Korean by themselves with Duolingo, regularly watch K-dramas or listen to K-pop. I contacted the Korean Education Centre and they told me about the scheme. We applied as a school and they found us a local Korean teacher.”
New pupils will be able to join once the current year 11 members leave for their GCSEs.
Photos of the Korean language class at Cwmbran High School