Professor Hahn Ki-un is the most prominent scholar of education in the Republic of Korea today. He has taken active roles in a variety of academic fields including the history and philosophy of education, comparative studies in education and education of social studies.
Professor Hahn was born in Seoul in 1925 to a family who attached much importance to education. Since his childhood, he has been recognized for his excellent academic performance. He received 8 years of education from the Governmental Normal School of Keijo. When Korean sovereignty was regained in 1945, Professor Hahn decided to become a scholar of education with the objective of building a new country. He then went to Seoul National University to begin his pursuit of the study of education. Professor Hahn was the first university graduate in the Republic of Korea to obtain a master's degree and a doctorate degree in the study of education. From 1952 until his retirement in 1990, Professor Hahn conducted research, trained young scholars and made excellent achievements at Seoul National University, his alma mater. A number of prominent scholars in education have since graduated from this university. Evidence of Professor Hahn's contributions to education can be seen in a three volume commemorative anthology, published respectively on his 60th and 70th birthdays and on his retirement by his students who are now prominent scholars of education in the Republic of Korea. Concurrently, this year marks Professor Hahn's 50th year of pursuing the study of education.
Professor Hahn's theory of education is widely known in and out of his country as Foundationism. In his theory, personality is formed through efforts to harmonize tradition with reform. It implies significance of the happy medium and harmony. In this philosophy, the wisdom to treasure tradition and the courage not to fear reform are valued equally. Professor Hahn stresses the importance of establishing a study of education unique to the Republic of Korea while at the same time, taking a full international point of view. The most distinguishing feature of his philosophy is that national and ethnic traits and the indigenousness of a nation are secured while emphasizing a universal international society.
From the early 1960s, Professor Hahn stressed the importance of teaching international understanding and put this theme into practice while serving as the first President of the Korean Society for Education of Social Studies. He has reduced the principle of Foundationism to the actual scenes of education. Professor Hahn has also made everlasting contributions in the realization of international peace as a scholar of education by playing an important role at UNESCO's collaborative meetings on school planning for the Asian region. The leadership of Professor Hahn as a theorist and activist of education has been fully demonstrated through his work as President of the Korean Society for the Study of Education and as President of the Kichojui=Foundationism Research Institute.
Professor Hahn has made outstanding contributions to international society through his educational practices. He has theoretically systemized the study of education with the objective of handing down and promoting culture based upon the foundation of Korean culture. In doing so, he has stressed to the world, the universal significance of the study of education and has demonstrated that such study can solve various problems. These accomplishments make Professor Hahn a truly worthy recipient for the International Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Cultural Prizes.