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Korean-guide saga rolls on



Korean-guide saga rolls on | Thaiger

PHUKET: The fiery spat between the Phuket Guide Association (PGA) and Korean tour operators has reignited after the Korean tour operators’ representatives were barred from overseeing the Korean-language proficiency test being taken by Thai guides.

Kim Tae Woen, chairman of the Korean Association, voiced his concerns about the testing arrangements, saying that only two people, handpicked by PGA President Panompol Thummachartaiyom, were allowed to oversee the examinations.

Mr Kim and members of the Korean Association were not allowed into the exam room, Mr Kim said.

Reluctant to accept the test results, Mr Kim said that the test was not carried out as he had expected after the meeting last month.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by 33 Korean tour operators on September 19 to ensure that they will employ Thai tour guides, leading to 143 Thai guides taking the Korean-language proficiency test at Phuket Community College at Saphan Hin on September 28 and 29.

“This is the wrong direction,” said Mr Kim. “It will pose a problem because the Korean tour operators in Phuket will not accept the standards of this test. A committee from the Korean Association should have been allowed inside.

K. Panompol retorted that Mr Kim and his associates were barred from entering the exam area as it may have disturbed the concentration of those sitting the exam.

“We told the Korean Association that they will have to respect and trust our standards. We never said that the Korean Association would be able to enter the exam room. The candidates needed to concentrate,” he said.

K. Panompol added that a meeting with the Korean Association to discuss how the exams are monitored and assessed will be held after October 8, when the examination results will be announced.

“We invited the Korean Association to observe the program, but they are trying to impose on the testing committee. All committee members were appointed by the Governor. We will have to wait for the exam results before we decide what to do,” he said.

K. Panompol called on Korean tour operators to be patient and cooperate with the PGA. As agreed in the MOU, all candidates who pass the test will begin working for a Korean tour operator, although should there be any disagreements, another meeting will be held to discuss the monitoring and assessment of the testing.

There is a possibility that a second examination organized by Korean tour operators may be used to further screen potential tour guides, said K. Panompol.


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