The purpose of this article is to explain how Central Asian studies, or the study of the Silk Road in its broad meaning, existed and developed in Korea long before “The Association for the Central Asian Studies of Korea (1993)” and “The Korean Association for Central Asian Studies (1996)” were founded. The development of Central Asian studies in Korea has three stages. The first is the stage of making connections (1900s-1945). Notable examples in this stage include a visit of the respected Swedish leader of Central Asian studies, Sven Hedin (1865-1952), to Korea and his lecture on the nineteenth of December in 1908 on the topic of the Silk Road for Koreans. This was the first such lecture in Korea. Another example is Kimm Chung-Se (金重世, 1882-1946) the first Korean scholar who studied in Germany, finished the doctoral course at Berlin University, and published an annotated translation of a Central Asian Buddhist script (a list of Buddhist rules [佛敎戒本: Pr?timok?a]) in an international academic journal(Asia Major, vol.2, Leipzig 1925). The second is the germination stage (1946-1979): Korean scholars who studied at the University of Tokyo in Japan, including Koh Byong-ik (高柄翊, 1924-2004) who taught classes on the history of east and west cultural exchange at Seoul National and Yonsei Universities, and Jo Jwa-ho (1917-1991) who first used the concept of 'The Silk Road,' in his book. In addition, in 1976 a class of Central Asian Art was first opened in Korea at Hongik University which laid the foundation for the development of Central Asian studies. In 1977 an international symposium about the Silk Road was first held in Korea hosted by the National Academy of Sciences in which Higuchi Takayasu from Japan and Joachim Werner from Germany gave presentations. The third is the transition stage (1980-1993): scholars of Central Asian Studies abroad came back to Korea and made their contributions. In 1986 the Central Asia Room was opened at the National Museum of Korea exhibiting items from the Otani Collection, giving an opportunity to popularize the field. In 1991, Silk Road antiquities from the Hermitage Museum in Russia and the Berlin Museum in Germany were first exhibited at the National Museum of Korea as Korean Central Asian studies gradually internationalized. Moreover, in this stage there was a crucial international academic event, the International Silk Road Great Expedition: Xinjiang, Southern Russia, and Maritime Route hosted by Unesco(1990-1991). This gave a precious opportunity for Koreans to meet foreign scholars of Central Asian studies and to view antiquities. Also the participation of Korean experts of Central Asian Studies, including Kwon Young-pil and Kim Ho-dong, resulted in significant achievements and brought about the organization in 1993 of the Association for the Central Asian Studies of Korea as well as the founding of its later form, the Korean Association for Central Asian Studies in 1996.
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