By Bae Jong-hyun
Foreign residents, mainly immigrant wives, in Yongin, south of Seoul, will be offered a driver's license program free of charge in May.
The municipal government said Monday that it has arranged three classes - in English, Chinese and Vietnamese -- in a bid to help immigrant wives in the city get accustomed to life in Korea and local culture earlier than intended with the help of a driver's license.
Each class will accept 15 applicants until April 30 on a first-come, first-served basis, a spokesman said.
The program will open May 11 and continue through June 20 at the Multicultural Family Center at Cheoin-gu Office. Participants will receive two hours of lectures each week, totaling 12 hours in six weeks.
Volunteers will help them _ in three languages _ understand Korean lectures and prepare for the written driver's license test. The city has also requested that Yongin Police Station publish textbooks for the written test in the three languages.
"We've offered this program to foreigners who've not dared to prepare for the written test due to lack of sufficient Korean language proficiency," a city official said. "If the program exceeds expectations, we'll expand the program."
Actual beneficiaries will be mainly women from Southeast Asian nations married to Koreans, he added.
There has been a rapid growth in the number of multicultural families here, with young men in rural areas often marrying foreign women, mainly from China, the Philippines and Vietnam, he also said.
Yongin is a city with a population of 834,000 in Gyeonggi Province, of whom 11,280 are foreigners, including immigrant women, migrant workers and English teachers. Among them are 5,036 Chinese, 875 Vietnamese, 632 Filipinos, 838 Americans, 175 Japanese, and 41 British nationals.