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Bogus seal maker’s hometown museum fizzling

Sept 07,2010
The Ministry of Public Administration and Security announced it will cut off further financial assistance of 700 million won ($598,035) to Sancheong, South Gyeongsang, for a tourist attraction celebrating the great seal of Korea, which was supposed to have been made there.

The move follows the admission by Min Hong-gyu, the 56-year-old seal maker, that he did not make the fourth state seal in Sancheong, his hometown, using traditional Korean methods, but made it using modern molds in Icheon, Gyeonggi.

The county said 4.5 billion won has already been invested to construct a one-story great seal workplace and a two-story seal gallery. Min himself contributed 200 million won, and the balance was supposed to be invested by the Public Administration Ministry. The workplace was completed in 2007, but plans for the gallery were suspended in February because of a shortage of funds. The county said it needed two billion won more to complete the gallery.

“We are now considering using the workshop for other purposes,” said Lee Jae-geun, Sancheong County magistrate.

The great seal of Korea, a phoenix-shaped stamp, is used when the president decides important state affairs. The fourth great seal project started in 2007, when the former seal was found to have developed cracks.

Before he confessed to police last week, Min maintained that he made the fourth great seal in his workplace in Sancheong, where he was planning to build more than ten structures about the state seal with his own money and government funds.

Police said Sunday that they requested an arrest warrant for Min on a charge of fraud. The judge’s decision is expected today, according to police.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]



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