UNESCO to Register Historical Korean Documents

      May 25, 2011 13:26

      Two Korean historical records are to be included in the Memory of the World Register. The 10th Meeting of the MOW International Advisory Committee in Manchester, U.K. on Tuesday recommended UNESCO add the Chosun-era royal journal "Ilseongnok" and documents on the Gwangju Democratic Uprising to the register.

      With the new additions, Korea will have nine documentary assets on the register, the most in Asia and the fifth-most in the world. Already listed are: the Hunmin Chongum Manuscript and the Annals of the Chosun Dynasty, both listed in 1997; the second volume of the "Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings," and "Seungjeongwon Ilgi," the Diaries of the Royal Secretariat (2001); printing woodblocks of the Tripitaka Koreana and miscellaneous Buddhist scriptures, and the "Uigwe" or royal protocols of the Chosun Dynasty (2007); and "Donguibogam" or "Principles and Practice of Eastern Medicine" (2009).

      ◆ 'Ilseongnok' (Records of Daily Reflections)

      The "Ilseongnok" consists of 2,329 volumes giving accounts of government from 1760 to 1911. Only one set of the royal journals was compiled and the whole volumes are housed intact at the Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies at Seoul National University.

      UNESCO reached the decision in recognition of the value of the royal diaries as descriptions of political and cultural exchanges between East and West in the 18th to 20th centuries, providing insight into universal trends of the time

      The Chosun-era royal journal Ilseongnok (left) and the photo of citizens swarming around outside the South Jeolla Provincial Office building during the Gwangju Democratic Uprising /Courtesy of Cultural Heritage Administration

      ◆ Records of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising

      The records on the pro-democratic uprising in the southwestern Korean city comprise tens of thousands of items including written documents, photos, voice recordings and moving images. A Korean committee submitted the nomination to UNESCO late March last year after compiling official government records, photos and films, medical records associated with victims of the democratic uprising, and documents on state compensation.

      Some rightwing groups filed a petition with UNESCO opposing the inclusion. But the IAC is also said to have been notified of Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik's comment on the matter in the National Assembly, saying that the Korean government does not agree with the petition as a historical judgment has already been made.

      ◆ The Memory of the World Programme

      The Memory of the World programme was launched in 1992 to preserve documentary heritage of great historic and cultural value. The IAC meets every two years to evaluate new nominations by each country. As of April, 193 items from 83 countries were included on the register.

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