February 08, 2011 12:56
The 297 volumes of the "Oegyujanggak" or royal Chosun Dynasty archives looted during a botched French invasion of Korea in 1866 will be returned by May 31. The texts include the "Uigwe," a precious collection of royal protocols.
Korean Ambassador to France Park Heung-shin, who heads a team negotiating the details of the return, and Paul Jean-Ortiz, a French foreign ministry official, signed an agreement pledging those terms on Monday. The agreement follows a decision by the leaders of Korea and France announced at the G20 Summit in Seoul last year to return the texts in the form of an indefinitely renewable five-year loan.
France wants to digitally scan the texts by mid March and move them from the Bibliothèque nationale de France to the National Museum of Korea in three or four shipments between March and May 31. The National Museum will inspect the returned texts and put them on display around July.
However, France hopes to put some of archives on display there to mark the 130th anniversary of bilateral relations in 2015-16, and Seoul agreed. The measure aims to appease fierce opposition by some people in France over the return of the archives.
A Korean government official said, "We merely said 'some' volumes and did not specify the number or specific volumes in the agreement." The Korean government is considering displaying a portion of the 30 volumes from the "Oegyujanggak" that were copied and kept in Korea.
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