Celebration at the Korean Department

Celebration at the Korean Department HU
For two days, the university celebrated the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Korean Department and the 3rd anniversary of the ELTE Sejong Institute. The event included a review of past achievements and an outline of future plans, alongside vibrant cultural programs and food tastings.

In his welcome speech, László Borhy, Rector of ELTE, highlighted the outstanding achievements of the Korean Department and the Sejong Institute in teaching Korean language and culture and in strengthening cultural relations between the two countries. He also mentioned that thanks to the active work of the department and the institute, the Faculty of Humanities is offering an increasingly wide range of training and program opportunities to more and more interested students, thereby contributing to the preservation and enrichment of the university's values.

Hong Kyudok, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Hungary, called the event a significant milestone, emphasizing that the two countries are important partners in the fields of economy, culture, and higher education. He recalled that during the 1989 regime change, Hungary was the first among the Eastern Bloc countries to accept South Korea as a strategic partner, and since then, relations between the two countries have developed to the extent that Korea is now one of Hungary's leading investors, with 330 Korean companies currently operating in the country. He announced that with the support of the embassy, the K-Carrier Day will be held again at ELTE on 14 May, followed by the KoreaON Day on 18 May, aimed at strengthening cultural ties.

Dávid Bartus, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at ELTE, discussed how, except for English, interest in world languages is declining while more and more young students are eager to learn East Asian languages. In 2010, only 15 students were enrolled in the Korean program at ELTE; today, that number exceeds 150 annually. The Dean emphasized that a degree from the ELTE Korean Department not only provides world-class knowledge but also guarantees secure employment opportunities for graduates. Finally, he announced that the Faculty of Humanities will allocate an additional building section to the Sejong Institute on the Trefort Garden campus. The Institute of East Asian Studies has committed to renovating these facilities to provide a suitable environment for future work.

Imre Hamar, Vice-Rector for International Affairs and Director of the ELTE Sejong Institute established in September 2021, expressed his gratitude to the Korean Embassy, the Korean Cultural Center, and Korean businesses operating in Hungary for their technological support. He noted that Samsung provided smartboards, KDB Bank supplied a photocopier, LG contributed monitors, SK On Hungary donated televisions, Shinhan Bank provided audio and projection equipment, and Shinheung SEC donated tablets, all aiding the department and the institute's work. The Vice Rector also highlighted that the number of dispatched and local teachers at the ELTE Sejong Institute increased to five by 2023, and the number of students participating in regular course hours grew to 587 in just one year.

Beatrix Mecsi, habilitated Associate Professor and Head of the Korean Department, recalled the history of Korean language and culture education in Hungary, starting from the Korean Language and Country Studies Program launched at ELTE in 1997 to the present day, where more than 300 students study Korean at the university. Since 2018, doctoral training has also been available for prospective researchers. She expressed gratitude to the instructors for ensuring the conditions for quality education and research despite the rapid increase in the number of students. Finally, she highlighted that through the department's international connections, various opportunities (CEEEPUS and ERASMUS programs) are provided for students and instructors building their academic careers.

At the event, current and former students of the department and institute, Nguyen Giang, Asja Dobó, and Balázs Trịnh, spoke about their connection to the language and culture. The program was further enriched by a short Korean-language play written and performed by students. After the official program, participants of the conference had the opportunity to taste Korean food and drinks. Additionally, students could engage in various cultural activities, including Korean music and dance lessons, as well as participate in the Sejong Golden Bell quiz game. The following day, the Faculty of Humanities hosted a student conference organized by first-year master's students in Korean Studies.