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National Museum of Korea holds special exhibition on royal archives

People looking at the Uigwe at the National Museum of Korea’s special exhibition (Yonhap News)The National Museum of Korea is holding a special exhibition on the Oegyujanggak Uigwe books, part of the royal archives of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), for two months, starting on July 19.

The exhibition shows a total of 165 historical artifacts, including more than 70 of the royal protocol books which were returned to Korea from France this past May.

The books were looted by the French navy from Ganghwa Island in 1866 and have been stored in the National Library of France. During the G20 Seoul Summit in November 2010, President Lee Myung-bak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed on general conditions for the return of the books in the form of a renewable five-year loan.

The Uigwe are collections of records describing major protocols and state affairs of the Joseon Dynasty, such as royal weddings, funerals and ancestral rites. Reflecting its historic significance, UNESCO included the Uigwe in their Memory of the World Register in 2007.

The books on display include some of most important rituals of the dynasty and the originals were made to be viewed only by the king.
The exhibition is composed of six parts: The first part compares books made solely for the king with other copies. The second and third part show records of royal protocols, like royal weddings and state rituals. The rest show instructions on royal funerals, records of the life of King Sukjong (1662-1720) and French books on the 1866 invasion of Korea.

The exhibition will end on September 18.

For more information about the exhibition, please visit (Korean, English).

By Yoon Sojung Staff Writer


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