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Title Spain´s ‘Instituto Cervantes’ to Open a Center Next Year in Seoul
No Inquiry 264 Date 2017.08.29

The Instituto Cervantes is a Spanish language and cultural education institution that is equivalent to an institution in Korea that would simultaneously perform the functions of the National Institute for International Education, which administers the TOPIK, a Korean proficiency test, and the Korean Cultural Center which promotes Korean culture overseas through different programs. Headquartered in the capital, Madrid, the Instituto Cervantes has more than 80 centers in 44 countries around the world, including accredited educational institutions.

 

 

 

In the meeting of the leadership of the Instituto Cervantes held last month, in Malaga, attended by the Queen and Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfonso Dastis, an extraordinarily long round of applause followed the announcement of the minister that the budget for the institute would be increased. Although he did not disclose exactly by how much the budget would increase, directors of the institute said in an interview with the Spanish daily El Pais that they had asked for an expansion of budget by 5 million euros (approximately 6.6 billion won) for 64 direct management centers.

 

As Spain underwent an economic crisis, the institute was hit hard by budget cuts. In 2012, it had to close its Brazil and Syria centers due to a budget cut by 13%. However, as the Spanish economy has entered an upward trend, the budget for this year was set at 120.5 million euros (approximately 160.3 billion won), which was increased by 2.6 percent from the 2016 budget. The Income earned by the institute through various programs implemented using this increased budget jumped 13% from last year's. Officials of the institute said that they could now catch their breath again: more than 1,000 workers of the institute have been worried about layoffs with budget cuts.

 

The Instituto Cervantes seems to recover finally from a long slump with the last month's announcement of the expansion of the budget by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the meeting of the directors, and the plan to establish its centers in Switzerland, Senegal, and Korea next year. When asked about the reasons for the selection of these three countries, the directors answered that Switzerland's Zurich is one of notable European centers, and the establishment of a center in Dakarri, Senegal, is part of the institute's strategy for Africa. As for Korea, they said that the opening of a center in Seoul would contribute to their expansion in the Asia-Pacific market, and now that many European cultural institutions turn to Seoul, they should look to the city.

 

 - Source: The official website of Madrid, the Spanish daily ABC>

 

In addition, Juan Manuel Bonet, who had been appointed as the Director of the institute by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture earlier this year, said that he ordered the extension of the institute's business profile and completed the design of a program on cultural conflict. He also named the poet Martín López-Vega as a new director for the new strategy development of the institute. This is one of the thirty changes that have taken place since Bonnet took office. He has expressed his willingness to spur the expansion of the cultural business of the institute, which had focused on language education, by appointing new directors at 29 centers, who are mainly writers and scholars with experiences in cultural projects.

 

Currently, there is a Cervantes Center in Korea at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, but it is operated by the university with programs accredited by the institute. Once the direct management center is established in Seoul next year, Koreans will be able to enjoy a variety of Spanish cultural programs in addition to systematic Spanish education programs. It is expected that both the Korean Cultural Center in Spain and the Instituto Cervantes in Korea grow into institutions that can lead cultural exchanges between the two countries by promoting their own culture and language among local people.

 

* Jung Noo-ri, Correspondent of KOFICE in Spain