Confucian Academies Recommended to World Heritage List

  • By Heo Yun-hee

    May 15, 2019 13:35

    Nine historic Korean Confucian academies have been recommended for the UNESCO World Heritage List, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration on Tuesday.

    The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an advisory group to UNESCO, recommended that nine Seowon or Korean neo-Confucian academies, be inscribed on the list.

    Normally all monuments or sites recommended by ICOMOS, are added to the list. The final decision will be made at the 43rd UNESCO World Heritage Committee session in Baku, Azerbaijan on June 30.

    They are Sosu Seowon in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, the first Seowon of the Chosun era built in 1543; Dosan Seowon and Byeongsan Seowon in Andong, North Gyeongsang; Oksan Seowon in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang; Dodong Seowon in Dalseong, Daegu; Namgye Seowon in Hamyang, South Gyeongsang Province; Pilam Seowon in Jangseong, South Jeolla Province; Museong Seowon in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province; and Donam Seowon in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province.

    /Courtesy of the Cultural Heritage Administration

    The CHA submitted an application for their evaluation to ICOMOS in 2016, but it was rejected because ICOMOS could not see how they formed a unit and said they do not seem to have been preserved properly or integrated into their surroundings. The application was submitted again and accepted last year.

    This time the CHA concentrated on building a story that would connect the nine academies. Cho Jae-mo, a professor at Kyungpook National University who was involved in the submission, said, "We focused on the important role of the nine academies in the spread of neo-Confucianism, while explaining the process of how they were created over a century and provided a model for early Confucian academies.

    They were private schools built by local scholar-aristocrats to train young students and honor dead Confucian scholars.

    ICOMOS accepted that the Korean Seowon contributed to spreading neo-Confucianism locally and set a standard architectural model for the period, which amounted to "outstanding universal value."

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