February 12, 2006

Seoul’s requests for Royal Archive return

Posted at 9:46 pm in Similar cases

The case of the Korean Royal Archives held in the Bibliothèque Nationale in France has been going on since 1991. Korea is now planning to step up the pressure on France by raising the negotiations to an inter-governmental level, rather than between individual experts.
This is a restitution case that has hardly been reported on outside Korea & France, but that is perceived as hugely important by the people of Korea who want to recover the history of their country.

Chosunilbo (Korea)

Updated Feb.8,2006 20:46 KST
Seoul Steps Up Quest for Royal Archive’s Return
Korea will take negotiations with France for the return of 297 historic Korean books looted from the Oeguyganggak royal archive to the government level at the end of the month. The French took the books from the Chosun-era library on Ganghwa Island off the west coast when they attacked Korea in 1866 for executing six French Catholic missionaries.

Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon told a press conference on Wednesday the negotiations had been between experts from both sides so far but would now move on to the inter-government level. Korea has formed a team led by former ambassador to France Jang Jae-ryong, who will set off for France late this month, he added.

The negotiations have dragged on since 1991 but failed to make any tangible progress because France is refusing to return the books. A Foreign Ministry official said there appeared to be no change in Paris’ position.

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