World History at

Teacher's Comment :

Kim Hyun Ho - History of Economic Exchange between Saudi Arabia and Korea

In Winter 2004, Kim Hyun Ho approached me and told me, he would like to do a research project on the history of (South) Korean-Arab Relations. Assuming that there are few books published on the topic, I recommended to him to pick a major South Korean newspaper and go through the issues published since about 1960, to establish a solid, defined information basis. And I told him that this would require the consistent investment of effort of a kind no student at our high school had ever attempted.
Hyun Ho worked independently on his paper; during the 15 months it took him, we spoke about his project perhaps 5 or 6 times. He went through the newspaper issues listed above and felt the necessity to repeatedly narrow down his topic, first to the relations between the Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and then to the economic relations between these countries.

The paper posted here is the result of extraordinary effort and determination which at this scale I beforehand regarded beyond the capability of high school students. It is based on primary sources (in Korean language). The archives of companies involved in Korean-Saudi Arab trade will not be accessible to scholars, no matter if they graduated from university, are university or high school students. At university level, of such a project it might be expected to include the articles of a Saudi Arab newspaper (which Hyun Ho might try in the future, as he reads basic Arab; he has lived in Cairo for several years). This, for the project described here, was not possible, because a collection of the issues of the last 4-5 decades of a Saudi Arab newspaper were not accessible to him. Also, for an academic research, it would be expected of Hyun Ho to do thorough bibliographic research. And I have to add, he would have to look for a scholar better qualified than myself to guide him, as I neither read Korean nor Arabic.

The last points I listed are not intended to criticize Hyun Ho's accomplishment. To have a student, at high school level, produce a research paper of this scope, is most gratifying, and exceeding even optimistic hopes I had a year ago. I merely intend to put Hyun Ho's paper in perspective; it is a high school student's research paper, and as such, truly extraordinary. In terms of time and sustained effort invested, it may be compared with a master's thesis at university; in terms of access to academic resources (library) it does partially meet academic standards, in terms of experience Hyun Ho had when he began his research, and, not the least, in terms of the guidance provided to him (by myself), it does not meet academic standards at all, as I am merely a teacher of history, not an expert on either Korean or Arab history.

December 20th 2005

Alexander Ganse

Kim Hyun Ho History of Economic Exchange between Saudi Arabia and Korea

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