Scholars Split On Recovering Chosun Assets France Looted

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Scholars Split On Recovering Chosun Assets France Looted

A controversial plan to recover lost Korean royal archives from France has split the Academy of Korean Studies.

The "Oe-kyujanggak" archives have been in France's possession since 1866, when France attacked the old Chosun Kingdom, burning 4,700 books and looting 300 archives in retaliation for the deaths of missionaries.

As part of an effort to retrieve the assets, the government has proposed exchanging other cultural assets for them. The academy's director, Han Sang-jin, was placed in charge of the project, amid widespread protests.

The academy's Changsuggak Department has opposed the plan, claiming the lost archives are invaluable. Department members also strongly criticized Mr. Han.

"Han must learn to choose right from wrong before going advancing his own interests," said a statement on the academy's homepage ( bulletin board on Nov. 9. The members fear that such an exchange would lead to other assets being put on the negotiating table.

Seoul National University, which also saves royal archives, has objected to the exchange on similar grounds. Other academics are also angry. About 30 professors met Friday to decide on an action plan.

by Jung Jae-wal

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