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Oriental Studies – Korean Studies

The University of Warsaw was the very first university in Poland to offer Korean language classes. Korean began to be taught as a second Oriental language in 1953, first in the Chinese Studies and later in the Japanese Studies Section. The political situation of the 1950s, the growing number of Korean students in Poland, and the presence of Korean War orphans all helped to promote interest in Korean studies. The number of students enrolling in Korean language courses increased. One of these students, Halina Ogarek-Czoj, would be instrumental in creating the Korean Studies Section. While Poland remained within the Communist Bloc, the Korean language was taught by lecturers from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; the last of them left in 1989.

In response to the demand for Korean studies observed in the 1980s, a separate unit dedicated specifically to this academic discipline was created in 1983. The most serious problem the Korean Studies Section had to face at the time was the poor quality of teaching materials and library holdings, whose majority came from North Korea.

Using their personal contacts, with invaluable assistance from the Association of Korean Studies in Europe (AKSE), the staff could add South Korean publications to the teaching resources. These efforts by the faculty resulted in a rapid adjustment to South Korean standards, introduced between 1990 and 2008 by South Korean professors sent by the South Korean government. When Poland and South Korea established diplomatic relations in 1989, students and faculty members were offered the opportunity to visit South Korea, to study and do research there. Many organizations, most notably the Korea Foundation, have been donating books and other resources to the Korean Studies Section, helping to increase the holdings of its library to more than eight thousand volumes at present.

In October 2015, a separate Department of Korean Studies was established. The Department conducts joint research projects with several Korean and European universities and centres of Korean studies.

The Department of Korean Studies conducts research in the following fields:

  • Korean literature
  • Korean culture
  • Korean phonetics
  • Korean history
  • Korean language and linguistics

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