Hungarian-Korean Theological Conference in Sárospatak

2018. január 30., kedd

The Hungarian-Korean Reformed Theological Forum held its third conference between 8-12 January 2018 in Sárospatak, Hungary.

The Hungarian-Korean Reformed Theological Forum was established by four Korean and two Hungarian Reformed higher education institutions with the aim of creating a direct theological dialogue between theologians of the Korean and Hungarian Reformed communities. The Forum held its first inaugural meeting in Debrecen in 2015. In 2016, the Forum, maintained by The Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUT), the Honam Theological University and Seminary in Gwangju (HTUS), the Sárospatak Reformed Theological Academy (SRTA) and the Debrecen Reformed Theological University (DRHE), held its second conference in Seoul. In 2018, the third round of dialogues was hosted by the Sárospatak Reformed Theological Academy.  

Eleven Korean guests, eight university professors and three students, arrived in Hungary for the Forum. The work of the conference series was joined by professors and students of other Hungarian and Korean institutions, including the Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj-Napoca and the Ewha Womans University in Seoul. 

On 8 January 2018, the president of the Reformed Theological Academy in Sárospatak, Szilveszter Füsti-Molnár, opened the Forum.

Co-Presidents of the conference were Shin Jaeshik, a theological professor at HTUS and Ábrahám Kovács, an associate professor at DRHE. Sixteen lectures and supplementary papers were shared during the conference on the relationship between national and Christian identity. The participants found that the Reformed Christian and national identities are closely linked to each other in both Korean and Hungarian Reformed thinking. They also pointed out that this interconnection offered a great opportunity to impact the wider society, but it also carried the risk that the national identity can overcome the need of authentic discipleship.

The members of the Forum were welcomed by the Presidium of the Transcibiscan Reformed Church District Bishop, József Csomós, and Lay President, Tibor Ábrám. The participants of the conference saw Sárospatak's sights, visited the Grammar School of the Sárospatak Reformed College and the Lévay József Reformed Grammar School in Miskolc, and visited Gönc, Vizsoly, Miskolc, Nyírbátor and Debrecen. The Korean delegation also met with Zsigmond Vad, dean of the Debrecen Reformed Presbytery and convener of the Ecumenical and International Affairs Committee of the RCH Synod. Zoltán Kustár, president of the Debrecen Reformed Theological University, also welcomed the foreign guests.

The Hungarian-Korean Conference series is often mentioned as the “Hun-Han Forum.” The word “hun” is a reference to the Hungarian history, and “han” stands for the Korean word, Hanguk, meaning Korea. However, “han” also connotes perseverance through despair and injustice and in the theological sense, refers to the pain of life that can be resolved with a realization of God as savior and healer. The words “hun” and “han” symbolize that, despite the great geographical distance, there are many common points that can be recognized in the fate of the Korean and Hungarian nation living in the shadow of great powers.

The 3rd Hungarian-Korean Reformed Theological Forum has shown that the connection between Reformed Christian and the national identity is one of the many common experiences and challenges ahead for both countries. The fourth meeting is planned to take place in Seoul in 2020.


Translation based on Dr László Gonda's article, by Anita Petróczi Petrov

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