Mongolians in search of the Korean Dream are learning Korean by the ger-load:

English may be the most popular foreign language in Korea, but in Mongolia more people take the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) than the TOEFL. The TOPIK is a Korean language proficiency test for non-Koreans, supervised by the Korea Institute of Curriculum & Evaluation and offered twice a year.

Last Sunday, 582 Mongolian students took the first TOPIK test of the year. Introduced in 1999, the test initially drew only about 200 students per year in Mongolia. But in 2005 that figure more than doubled to 487, then climbed to 584 in 2006 and 925 in 2007. Based on the number taking Sunday’s test, the total figure will likely exceed the 1,000 mark this year.

And in 2007, some 15,000 Mongolians took the Korean Language Proficiency Test, or KLPT, which is designed for people preparing to work in Korea. Mongolians currently outnumber USFK, with 33,000 Mongolians living in Korea. Korea is also Mongolians’ No. 1 destination for overseas study.