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Korea undertakes English translation of historical archives

Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (photo courtesy of the National Institute of Korean History)Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (photo courtesy of the National Institute of Korean History)

The centuries-old Annals of the Joseon Dynasty also known as the Joseon Wangjo Sillok, are set to be translated into English.

The National Institute of Korean History has secured an annual budget of 500 million Korean won for the translation of the historical archives, which are listed in the UNESCO Memory of the World registry. The institution is to consult a number of experts in Classical Chinese-English translation and Korean studies academics.

The English edition of the annals, or Sillok, will ensure broadened public access to one of Korea’s most significant historical records. The translated version will not only ease research for overseas Korean studies scholars, but also enable anyone to discover more about Korean history, including those fascinated by Korean historical TV dramas such as Daejanggeum and Deep-rooted Tree

The National Institute of Korean History aims to complete the English translation of the royal archives by 2033, in a bid to better communicate the treasure trove of history of the Joseon Dynasty to foreign audiences.

Upon completion, the full script of the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty is set to be accessible online, alongside an abridged paper publication.

The Joseon Wangjo Sillok is a massive chronicle of the Joseon Dynasty period, covering the reigns of 25 kings from founding ruler King Taejo to King Cheoljong, the longest continual records of a single dynasty in the world. These extensive records of Korea’s history were nominated National Treasure No. 151 in 1973. In 1997, the annals joined the first inscription batch of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register -- in recognition of its historiographic value and unparalleled comprehensiveness and wealth of information -- along with the Hunminjeongeum, the document which first introduced Hangeul.

Previously, the Korean government supported a project to translate the royal compilation into the modern Korean language from the original classical Chinese. Initiated in 1968, the Korean translation project conducted by the National Institute of Korean History took 25 years until published in a series of 413 volumes in 1993. The Korean version has been available online since 2006. For more information, please visit the official website.(Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese)

By Hwang Dana Staff Writer


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