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[EDITORIALS]National Museum Is a Treasure

Apr 16,2001
History and culture dwell together in museums. Museums, so-called living history, are valuable cultural asset that future generations will enjoy. On Monday, a sub-committee of the Culture and Tourism Committee, which monitors the construction of the new National Museum of Korea, submitted a report on a recent feasibility study on the museum's construction to the National Assembly. The report shows that the program for the new national museum is far from sufficient to meet our expectations.

The construction of the new national museum was started at the end of 1997 on a site of 303,600 square meters in Yongsan, Seoul. The total floor area of the new museum amounts to 15,180 square meters. The building is scheduled to be completed by December 2002, and the new museum is to be opened one year after completion. However, the National Assembly report clearly indicates that dedication of the new museum on schedule is impossible. Furthermore, the problem of moving the U.S. Army heliport and a plan to hire additional museum curators have not been resolved yet. The report shares many points of argument in common with those of experts from academia and cultural studies who said opening the new museum in 2003 is beyond possibility. In fact, the decision to move the National Museum of Korea, which was made under the Kim Young-sam administration in 1993, represents make-shift administration. At that time, the government pushed to remove the pinnacle of the old national museum building in August 1995, without any preparations. The administration insisted that the urgent priority was removing the old Japanese colonial office building.

We can no longer allow crude administrative measures to determine the fate of our cultural assets. Since the experts of the construction company of the new museum demand a six-month to one year extension to complete the building, there is no need for the government to hurry. As the report critically pointed out, it is necessary to form an evaluation committee and review the project thoroughly from the beginning. We should give our top priority to make the new national museum a true treasure house of cultural assets before unification.



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