Among the first researchers interested in the Korean language at Adam mickiewicz University in Poznan (AMU) were Prof. Ludwik Zabrocki and Prof. Jerzy Bańczerowski. Their object of interest was various aspects of Korean phonetics. Another significant contributor to Polish-Korean relations was Prof. Wojciech Lipoński, who in the years 1984-1989 wrote 41 articles on Korea and the Olympic Games. With those articles, he was able to familiarize Polish people with various aspects of daily Korean life. Prof. Lipoński spent two weeks in the Republic of Korea in 1987, taking part in an international program of cultural exchange between Korea and other countries, and in 1988 helped organize the Olympic Games. His efforts put into promoting Korean culture in Poland were acknowledged by the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Culture and Information, Lee Wong-Hee.

In February 1988, Prof. Jacek Fisiak, the then rector of AMU, headed a university delegation to Pyongyang at the invitation of the rector of Kim Il-Sung University. He was accompanied by Prof. Stefan Paszyc and Dr. Antoni Szczuciński. During the visit, they became acquainted with the structure of the university and discussed the possibility of academic cooperation. However, the first official contact between the governments of the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Poland was made in June 1989 at the International Trade Fair in Poznań. The meeting was attended by Prof. Jacek Fisiak, then as Minister of National Education.

1988- 2002

The teaching of the Korean language at Adam Mickiewicz University began in 1988 at the Institute of Linguistics, with Dr. Romuald Huszcza of Warsaw University as the first lecturer teaching the course. It was predominantly audited by the students of Japanese and Chinese studies. Dr. Romuald Huszcza, later as professor, taught Korean at the IL up until 1997.

On May 7 1998, Prof. Jerzy Bańczerowski visitted the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Warsaw. The result of this visit was the introduction of Korean as a language taught as part of the newly established ethnolinguistics program (IL, October 1998) with Mr. Kyong-Geun Oh, a graduate of Polish philology at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków as its first instructor. For two years, he taught the Korean language and Korean culture to a group of approximately 15 students.

On January 7 2000, the Institute of Linguistics hosted a Korean Day. The aim of the event was to familiarize attendants with the culture and tradition of celebrating the Lunar New Year. Jae-Nam Chung, First Secretary and Consul of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea attended the event. Representing the administration of Adam Mickiewicz University were the prorectors: Professors Joachim Cieślik, Przemysław Hauser, and Bogdan Walczak. Representing the Faculty of Modern Languages and Literatures were the Dean, Prof. Stanisław Puppel and the Dean of Students, Prof. Teresa Tomaszkiewicz.

Student exchange  and academic  cooperation

The first official case of cooperation between AMU and a Korean university was initiated by a letter of intent, signed on June 16 1991 in Poznań by the Rector of AMU, Prof. Jerzy Fedorowski, and the Rector of Wonkwang University in Iri, Professor Kim Sam-Yong. The letter enabled the exchange of students, faculty, and research results. In 1991, during his visit at Wonkwang University, Rector Fedorowski gave a speech on higher education in Poland and exchange prospects with Korea. Speaking before the Senate of AMU, he noted that we were the first Polish university to sign a student exchange agreement with a Korean university.

The first partnership agreement with a Korean university was signed on December 7 1998. On that day, an agreement with Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) was signed by the Rector of AMU, Stefan Jurga, and the Rector of HUFS, Kyu-Chul Cho, accompanied by Prof. Cheong Byung-Kwon. This agreement marked the beginning of an intensive cooperation between the universities.

As part of academic cooperation, various conferences were organized in both Poland and Korea, attended by both Korean and Polish academics, strengthening the ties between the two countries. Major contributors to Polish-Korean research were, among others, Prof. Jacek Fisiak, Prof. Byung-Kwon Cheong, Prof. Dae-sik Kim, Prof. Choong-Woo Lee, Prof. Kyong-Geun Oh, Dr. Jiwone Lee, Prof. Jerzy Świdziński, Prof. Tomasz Lisowski, Prof. Piotr Wierzchoń, Prof. Jerzy Bańczerowski, Prof. Janusz Pajewski, and Prof. Wiesław Olszewski.

Establishing Korean philology

Introducing Korean philology as a separate study program was already a topic of discussion at the time when the Institute of linguistics was first established. However, a qualified faculty and solid research background was necessary, and the institute lacked proper facilities. Thus, it was concluded that the program would not launch before 2000. The idea of establishing Korean philology was met with approval by His Excellency Jung-Il Oh, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea. On April 18 2002, Korean Philology was established as per the decision of the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Modern Language and Literatures of AMU. The five-year MA program started in the academic year 2003/2004.

2003 – now

In 2007, the five-year MA program was divided into a three-year Bachelor’s and a two-year Master’s programs.

Decree No. 406/2019/2020 of the Rector of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan of December 17, 2019 regarding organizational changes at the Faculty of Modern Languages. As part of the new structure of the Faculty of Modern Languages, the Department of Korean Language was established at the Institute of Ethnolinguistics.

 Based on the article “Korea as one of the main interests of the Institute of Linguistics at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland” by Professor Jerzy Bańczerowski, originally published in: Korea-Poland-Central Europe: perspective partnership in the areas of science, culture, art, literature and economics: 2nd International Academic Conference, Librarian Center in Jarocin, Poznan, July 14-16, 2002. (Vol. 1), p. 10-24