Korean Studies in Vienna look back at, comparatively, already quite a long history. Since 1964 courses in Korean language and lectures on Korea-related subjects were offered on a regular basis. One of the first lecturers was Kwang-kyu Lee [Yi Kwang-gyu], who earned a PhD at the University of Vienna with a thesis on Mongolian marriage rites and became, after his return to Korea, a leading scholar of Korean ethnology and anthropology. In 1965 Korean Studies became firmly institutionalized as a section of the newly founded Department for Japanese Studies. In the late 90s, despite being a mere section, Korean Studies in Vienna was able to offer Korean language courses and various lectures and seminars to an extent that did not fall short of what was offered at full departments in Germany. The section hosted also a number guest-professors from Korea, among them famous Korean poet Kim Kwang-Kyu. This development was mostly due to the joint efforts of Sang-Kyong Lee, long-serving director of the section till his retirement in 2000, and Sepp Linhart, head of the Department for Japanese (and Korean) Studies. Providing various support, the Korea Foundation made a very substantial contribution to all this positive development.
When in 2000 an Institute of East Asian Studies was founded at Vienna University, Korean Studies were recognized as of equal standing with the two other constituents of the merger, the former Departments for Chinese and Japanese Studies.
In 2003 Rainer Dormels was appointed first professor of Korean Studies in Vienna. The full professorship was bestowed in April 2005. 40 years after the first Korean language classes had been offered it finally became possible to major in Korean Studies at the University of Vienna. In 2008 an official curriculum for Korean Studies was approved that further ensures the standing of Korean Studies as fully established and emancipated section of the Institute for East Asian Studies. It is also possible to write doctoral and post-doctoral thesis (Habilitation) in the field of Korean Studies at the University of Vienna.