They have their profiles on Facebook: ‘A Korean woman went to Koszęcin’. This paraphrase of the title of a folk song was made up by students of Polish philology from Seoul. It is the second time a group of the Koreans have performed in the headquarter of the band ‘Śląsk’ in Koszęcin. They gave a surprising beginning: first they danced polonaise with secondary school graduates on the market square in nearby Lubliniec, which raised understandable sensation

A three-week program was intensive: lessons of Polish dances and folk songs, language classes, ethnographic workshops and trips. Why ‘Śląsk’? How did the idea of studying Polish philology appear? These are the questions which everybody asks who had an occasion to meet Korean students in our country, as although brands of the Asiatic economic tiger: LG, Samsung or Hyundai are well-known in Poland, Korea is a country which is still exotic for us. There is a distance of 7736 km between our countries.

Eight per one place

The inscription ‘Poland 7736 km’ is seen on a monument in front of the building of the Faculty of Polish Philology Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul. The Faculty of Polish Philology HUFS is the biggest institution in whole Asia. It is at the university campus Global in Yongin, distanced by about 40 km from Seoul. Polish philology is studied by about 130 students. It is not easy to pass an admission test. In 2010 8 candidates were applying for one place at BA studies.

The monument with the memorial tablet – the only Polish monument in South Korea – was unveiled in 2007 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the faculty. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Polish philology at HUFS was the first meeting of Polish philologists from Japan and Korea in Asia. The jubilee conference changed into cyclical meetings of Polish philologists from these 3 countries.

Polish studies last 4 years at our university and are graduated with gaining BA degree -says Bitna Oh, who is simply called Krysia by Poles. She is a graduate of this faculty and a carer of a group which have arrived in Koszęcin. She speaks Polish very well. This is due to the fact that within students’ exchange journeys, she has once been at the Jagiellonian University. She liked Cracow and the university so much that she decided to stay there for another academic year at her own cost and then she worked in a Korean company in Poland for a few years. She returned to Seoul but her enthusiasm for Poland remained: she is planning another journey to Poland to work here and to continue her studies.

In the program of the 4-year Polish studies, beside the practical Polish studies, conversation and translation studies, there are also classes of Polish grammar, history of Polish literature, history of culture and other typical classes in every philological studies. After BA studies it is possible to take an admission exam for studies of II and III degree. However, only a few people choose it.

The language of level is very high, but after the first or second year it is possible to understand a lot, although it is more difficult to speak. After graduating from university one can communicate quite well. There are more and more chances to develop language in Poland. The Koreans from the Polish philology can arrive at the Jagiellonian University, the Warsaw University and University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań, the Catholic University of Lublin, University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska in Lublin, University in Łódź or the Silesian University to study. The international cooperation of the university is developing more and more.

LOT and Lewandowski as an advertisement of Poland

Motivations to study Polish philology are various. In the opinion of Krystyna, sometimes people want to stand out of others. Japanese and Chinese languages are popular in Korea, as well as German or French can be learnt at schools. Polish philology is an elitist faculty and studying it at Hankuk University, similarly as other Slovak languages, which are at HUFS, gives a guarantee of being unique.

Trade exchange and growing popularity of Polish products and companies contribute to popularize the brand: Poland. During a meeting in the editorial office of ‘Niedziela’ with a few people from the students’ group, we found out that, for example, Sehyeon Teong thinks practically, is interested in aviation and after graduating from university she would like to get work in an office of the LOT company in Korea.

Some people find out about Poland thanks to their being interested in sport. Although during the football world championship in 2002 held in Seoul the Polish team lost with the representation of South Korea, but the surname Lewandowski is known by every Korean supporter. Wonjae Lee, also a student of Polish philology who plays football, and says that his dream is to meet Robert Lewandowski personally, and, among the others, for this reason he started learning Polish language.

A lot of graduates work in companies having contacts with Poland, for example, in the mentioned companies Samsung, Hyundai, LG, and also in governmental institutions. There are employment possibilities, because as the students’ employment university ranking proved, according to the faculty of studies, carried out in 20009, Polish philology was in the 3rd place among 43 university faculties at HUFS.

Band ‘Mazurka’ is dancing Polonaise

An artistic representative feature of the faculty of Polish philology is the band ‘Mazurka’. It was set up spontaneously a dozen years ago. In the beginning it was difficult – students were learning steps of Polish folk dances from videos. Made contacts, cooperation with the Polish embassy, which, among the others, gave folk outfits, made Polonaise, Krakowiak, Polka performed better and better. ‘Mazurka’ presents its own artistic program during visits of the Polish state authorities in Seoul, it dances and sings for the Korean audience.

The band has visited Koszęcin for the first time in October 2015. In February 2017 it has arrived in a different cast, but it also took advantage of a rich program of classes: everyday lessons of Polish given by language teachers from the School of Polish Language and Culture of the Silesian University and artistic workshops supervised by teachers from the ‘Śląsk’ band. Beside dance classes, there were classes in makeup and movement on stage. Lessons of diction and recitation were run by Piotr Hankus, an artist from the ‘Śląsk’ band and a winner of the title of the Master of Polish Speech in 2015.

On the artistic tour there were, among the others: Palace in Pszczyna, Monumental Mine of Silver in Tarnowskie Góry, Książęce Breweries in Tychy, Monumental Mine of Hard Coal ‘Guido’ in Zabrze, Kraków and Warszawa. Students who are Catholics, went to Jasna Góra. They also visited our editorial office, gave an interview to the Television Studio of ‘Niedziela’, met with the editor-in-chief and editors.

The photos placed on Facebook prove that there were a lot of events. At the end of its visit, ‘Mazurka’ gave a performance to the Polish audience in Koszęcin. There were dances like: trojak, krakowiak, songs such as: ‘Highlanders have sowed’, ‘A deep well’. ‘Off went Karolina’. The project of the Koreans’ educational stay in Poland was entitled: ‘ <<Śląsk>> for <>’. Now the band can thank for hospitality, performing as ‘Mazurka’ for Poland.


„Niedziela” 20/2017

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: