ELTE Institute of East Asian Studies

1088 Budapest Múzeum krt. 4/F


Department of Korean Studies

Faculty of Humanities, Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE)

Our history

For the first time in 1997, a Korean language and culture program was launched at the Faculty of Humanities at ELTE with the supervision of Dr. Ágnes Birtalan, who had previously conducted research about traditional culture and Buddhism in South Korea. The four-semester-long program specifically focused on providing a deeper understanding about the Korean Peninsula. Throughout the following years, the program, supported by the Korea Foundation and the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Hungary, proved to be highly successful. Later in the summer of 2008, the Department of Korean Studies was established.

The Korean BA program was launched in September 2008. In 2012, the Hungarian Accreditation Committee approved the Korean MA program as well, and thus, the first MA students were admitted a year later. In 2018, with the accreditation and launch of the Korean PhD program, the Department of Korean Studies at ELTE became the sole institution offering complex programs in Korean Studies on different academic levels in Hungary.

Currently, 168 students are enrolled at our BA, MA and PhD programs, instructed by our seven-member teaching staff.

Our programs

Within the Far Eastern Languages and Cultures Program, the purpose of the Korean Studies programs is to nurture professionals who possess both comprehensive theoretical and practical knowledge about the Far Eastern languages and cultures with a special focus on Korea, its history and its culture, and who are also able to demonstrate high levels of proficiency in Korean. The graduates of the BA program gain profound knowledge, which they can apply when continuing their studies at our MA program or at other universities in Korea. They may also apply for positions at Hungary-based global Korean companies, where there is a constant demand for highly qualified professionals, who have a deep understanding of Korean language and culture.

The curriculum of the BA program was designed for students who are yet to be introduced to Korean academic subjects. The purpose of the program is to provide students with comprehensive knowledge about Korean history, traditional and modern culture, literature and national identity, while also situating Korea in the greater East Asian context. The students are expected to gain an intermediate understanding of and proficiency in Korean language at the end of the three-year program. The BA degree is awarded after the student submits a thesis on a Korea-related subject and passes the state examination.

The MA program’s curriculum builds on the acquired knowledge at the BA-level and offers a deeper understanding in history, traditional and modern culture, literature and national identity. Students who pursue profound academic interests, and who are willing to partake in scholarly dialogue are encouraged to apply for the program. Most courses are taught in Korean, and at the end of the two-year program, students are expected to achieve a strong upper intermediate or higher proficiency in Korean language. The program is successfully completed if the student submits a thesis on a Korea-related subject and passes the state examination conducted in Korean.

The PhD program’s curriculum was formed to nurture highly qualified researchers, who are particularly interested in a Korea-related academic field, who possess profound knowledge about the field, and who are conducting a related extensive research. The first 2 years of the program offer specialized courses and consultations, where students are expected to establish the bases of their dissertation. During the second 2 years of the program, students prepare their dissertation, while gathering and analyzing data. Simultaneously, students are also expected to present their research findings at conferences, publish parts of their research in scholarly journals, partake in other scholarly activities, and furthermore, they are also encouraged to partake in teaching. The four-year program ends with the submission and public defense of the dissertation.

Academic achievements

Our current Head of Department, Dr. Beatrix Mecsi is regularly invited to international conferences and universities to hold presentations about Korean Art History. Recently in 2019, she presented at Seoul National University and Sogang University in Korea as an invited expert, and at Istanbul University in Turkey, where she attended “The 2nd International Academic Conference of Central Eurasia Korean Studies”. Simultaneously with the conference, a speech contest for students of Korean Studies also took place. The contest was won by Dóra Dulai, a student of our department. In addition, our students have also been successfully participating in the international Korean speech contest organized by the Babes-Bolyai University in Romania every year since 2016.

Our instructors also actively attend international conferences at other European universities, not only as part of the CEEPUS and ERASMUS programs, but also through personal invitation.

Since 2017, a student conference (Student Conference in Korean Studies) is held every year at our department, where students of all Korean programs are invited to present their research findings. The presentations are published in conference proceedings.

Supports, cooperation, international relations

The Korean Studies programs have always received continuous financial support from the Seoul-based governmental bodies such as the Academy of Korean Studies and the Korea Foundation, and also from Korean companies based in Hungary: Samsung Electronics, Samsung SDI and Korea Development Bank among others. The former organizations offer scholarships for outstanding students as well, while the latter companies provide constant job opportunities for our graduates.

We have close relations with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Hungary, the Korean state-affiliated trade promotion organization, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and the Korean Cultural Center in Budapest. These governmental bodies and organizations have provided us financial support when certain Korea-related events, such as speech contests or career days, were organized at our department.

Our department also cooperates with other Korean departments of Central and Eastern European countries’ universities. In 2011, we joined the CEEPUS program, which creates both student and teacher incoming and outgoing mobility opportunities among European departments of Korean studies.

Through the Korea Foundation’s Dispatch of Visiting Professors Program and later the Academy of Korean Studies visiting professor program, native Korean professors were invited to teach at our department for several years. Samsung Electronics also provided support for one teaching position between 2008 and 2014.

Under the terms of a bilateral agreement between Eötvös Loránd University and the Korean Dankook University, Dankook University has been dispatching a visiting professor to our department since 2013. Aside from teacher mobility, our incoming and outgoing student mobility programs are also very active. Dankook University offers support for students applying for its Korean summer school, and an ERASMUS+ agreement has also been signed between our institutions.

Currently, our department is establishing relations with Kyung Hee University in Korea.

Major projects

After a successful application for support at the Academy of Korean Studies, the Korean Studies Promotion Service (KSPS) provided course material development support for our instructors, support for purchasing necessary equipment for teaching and research, and also financed the creation of a web-based hanja (Chinese character) teaching program between 2009 and 2011.

In 2019, we applied for the “Window on Korea” program, created by the National Library of Korea. Through the financial support received, our department has started establishing an individual library. Up until now, approximately 2500 Korea-related volumes arrived from Korea.

Major programs in the last years

In 2018, “Korea Day” was organized with the support of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Hungary and the Korean Cultural Center. The festivities consisted of various cultural programs and a speech contest for the students attending our programs. The Day commemorated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean Department as well.

Since 2018, “Career Day” is annually organized with the help of the Embassy’s trade promotion agency, KOTRA. On this Day, Korean companies based in Hungary set up booths, and offer one-on-one consultation to students who are interested in working at a Korean company in the future.

In 2019, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the sister city relations between Daejeon and Budapest, a speech contest was held at our department with support from the Embassy and the Korean Cultural Center. At the speech contest, which was open to the public, the category winners received a round trip plane ticket to Korea with an opportunity to attend a language course there, sponsored by the Daejeon International Center and Hannam University.

In Hungary, the Department of Korean Studies is the only center focusing on Korean Studies, where complex and accredited programs on the language, social and cultural history are offered, and therefore, the number of students steadily increases every year. Reflecting the university’s education development and internationalization strategy, our department focuses on organizing diverse Korea-related programs and providing various opportunities to students and teachers alike to join international mobility programs in order to expand their horizons while gaining valuable practical experience.