Seoul Pushes to List Forced-Labor Records with UNESCO

      September 14, 2015 09:55

      Seoul is seeking the UNESCO listing of documents about Koreans who were forced to labor for the Japanese occupying forces during World War II.

      The move comes after Japan succeeded in listing with UNESCO historic industrial facilities where many Koreans were forced to labor during the war.

      Only seven historic Korean documents are currently listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, including the Hunminjeongeum Manuscript (The Proper Sounds for the Instruction of the People), "Chosun Wangjo Sillok" (Annals of the Chosun Dynasty), and "Dongui Bogam" (Principles and Practice of Eastern Medicine).

      A panel under the Prime Minister’s Office has since 2004 collected 336,797 documents related to Japan's wartime mobilization of Korean forced labor. They have recently been submitted to the Cultural Heritage Administration, which will now formally apply to list them with UNESCO, a spokesman said Sunday.

      The documents include investigation reports on victims, statements, photos, and other materials. The government will pick several samples for the UNESCO application next month.

      Back in June, Japan listed the Meiji-era industrial sites -- including a coal mine of the uninhabited island of Hashima where many Koreans died -- as UNESCO World Heritage sites as symbols of Japanese modernization.

      The Foreign Ministry was cagey when asked about Korea's rival listing drive, perhaps out of concern that this could hamper efforts to seek a trilateral meeting with Japan and China next month.

      "We will make all necessary efforts in cooperation with other ministries and agencies once the government finishes selecting samples and is ready to apply to UNESCO," a ministry spokesman said.

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