English for North Korean refugees in South Korea
Another border to cross or a path to a new world?
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 July 2020
Mee-Soo was a good student in North Korea. She came to South Korea in her early teens, and South Korean state policy for North Korean defectors enabled her to gain entry into a decent university in Seoul. She majored in Business Management and, when she had to choose her sub-major, she chose Accounting over Marketing and Human Resources because she thought she could avoid English. Achieving CPA (Certified Public Accountant) status was the goal for Accounting majors. Passing a score of 700 in the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) was a requirement to take the CPA exam. Mee-Soo worked hard studying for TOEIC and took the test ten times. Her score rose from the 400s to the 600s, but she could not pass the 700 threshold and was left behind while other South Korean students passed the English requirement. She could not even begin to study for the CPA exam itself. She once sighed and told me (one of the authors), ‘I wish I could have a life without English.’ I responded, ‘I didn't think English would be so important to North Koreans in South Korea.’ To this, Mee-Soo exclaimed, ‘It is a matter of survival.’
- Research Article
- Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press