World History at
Teacher's Comment :
The Analysis of the Polito-Economic History post WW II of Asian States : Goa, East Timor, Nepal, South Vietnam, the Philippines and South Korea
The four papers discussed here deal with the transition of political entities in Asia from a colonial/late feudal stage to modernity,
with the focus on political and economic development.
It has to be understood that in Project Studies History at KMLA, the choice of the topic and of the way he tries to approach it lies
with the student, who of course is given teacher's guidance throughout the project. While the result, the final research paper, is
an achievement in itself, at least as important is the experience the student gains in researching for it and writing it. The students
had about a year, in some cases even more than that, for their project.
The first paper, Cheong, Purun's Goa and East Timor, was written a year earlier, in 2006. Following community service
spent in East Timor, Cheong Purun developed curiosity in the country's turbulent history; the comparison with Goa allowed him
to put East Timor's history in perspective. The final paper was 27 pages long (single space).
Two of the papers, Yang, Eunmo's Modernization of Nepal and Sim, Chi Kyu's Comparison of the Economic Development
of the ROK and the Philippines establish thorough analyses based on secondary sources, the latter almost exclusively in
English. Both papers impress in size - 119 pages and 83 pages single space respectively - and support (figures, tables, notes).
Having chosen to base their research on academic publications, both students faced the dilemma of either limiting themselves to a target
text length of 15-30 papers (which reasonably can be expected of such a project paper) and thus to have to write in a more
summaric style / limit the range of their topic, or to try and write an analysis which satisfied their own curiosity, irrespective of how
many pages the paper ultimately would fill. And in the process both developed an understanding of the field which enables them to
follow academic lectures, to participate in academic discussions on the topic.
Kim, Youngmin, in The South Vietnamese Economy during the Vietnam War, pursued a different and more energy-
efficient approach; he based his research primarily on statistical figures. While Yang Eunmo's Modernization of Nepal
is the longest research paper hitherto written at KMLA, Kim Youngmin established a record at the other extreme - 10 pages
single space. Still, by focussing on statistical data, he establishes an independent analysis, a solid basis in an academic
discussion of the topic.
In this comment I used information about the size of papers in order to describe them. Other criteria would include :
Originality.  : While countries such as the Philippines and the Republic of Korea receive a lot of media
attention, and a reasonable number of academic publications on their history is accessible, East Timor, Goa and Nepal
are, by comparison, less known. South Vietnam is well-known, but, as it does no longer exist as a separate political entity,
obtaining information on certain aspects of its history is similarily difficult.
Monography on one entity versus Comparison of two.
Scope.  : Kim, Youngmin aimed at the description of South Vietnam's economy only; Yang, Eunmo
attempted to describe the Modernization of Nepal, i.e. the country's economy, administration, education etc. Cheong, Purun
and Sim, Chi Kyu went a step further, tried to put the development of one entity into context by comparing it with another.
Both emphasized the strong correlation between political and economic development.
Cheong, Purun, Yang, Eunmo and Sim, Chi Kyu felt it necessary to go further back in history and describe situations
prevalent before the period they planned to research began.
The Sources used.  :
The papers discussed here more than fulfill expectations in a high school environment. They also show that there are
different, legitimate paths which lead to the final result; there is no one single pattern for others to follow.
February 11th 2008