Widely known as being the pioneer in spreading Korean culture throughout Europe, Lewin was among the first to write and research about, and encourage a younger generation of scholars to study, Korean culture and history. In 1984 he established the East Asian studies department at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany. He later added a Korean culture curriculum to the department’s offerings.
He majored in Japanese studies at a college in Japan but branched out to Korean studies while trying to find the cultural roots of Japan. He thought that European scholars underestimated the value and importance of Korean culture. Eventually, he studied Korean culture and history on his own himself and presented several research papers and writings concerning the impacts of Korea culture on Japanese cultural development. His seminal research on the influence of language and culture of Baekje Kingdom (B.C. 18-660) on the development of ancient Japanese culture and language is still a much discussed topic today.
“The fact that he was the first to attempt spreading Korean culture and created the East Asian studies department at his Ruhr University Bochum earns him much credit and great admiration. In the late 20th century, there was not a single department in Europe that offered a Korean studies curriculum. Even when I studied in Europe several years ago, there were only one or two schools that had the Korean studies major,” said Hwang Gi-sik, Donga University Professor and director of general affairs at The Korean Society of Contemporary European Studies.
By Lee Hyun-jae, Intern reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org)