Return of royal texts

15 Apr 2011 8:00 AM | Anonymous

Return of royal texts
Let’s double efforts to get back looted relics

It was touching to see looted royal books of the Joseon Kingdom arrive in Seoul 145 years after invading French soldiers took them away. The texts returned to a hero’s welcome as they are the symbol of national pride. Their return confirms that cultural properties do themselves justice in their original locations.

On Thursday, the first 75 books of the 297-volume royal documents came home. They had been kept in the Oegyuganggak archive on Ganghwa Island off the west coast until the 1866 French invasion. The remaining books will be sent back by May as agreed upon between President Lee Myung-bak and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy on the sidelines of the G20 Seoul Summit last November.

Strictly speaking, the arrival of the pillaged cultural assets is not a return but a lease that can be renewed every five years. The texts are still in the possession of the French government that does not want to change its property status of the items. Many Koreans are uneasy about the French ownership.

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