Korea records group takes a leaf from Guinness bookThree people in a tiny studio in Sillim-dong, Seoul, dream of becoming the Korean version of the Guinness Book of Records, as they gather information on Korea’s oldest person, largest rice cake, longest bridge, highest building and other facts to maintain an online archive.
The reason the group was founded goes back to July 2001, when the Korea Guinness Association, which only had publishing rights, had its charter withdrawn by the Guinness headquarters in England for issuing record certificates under the Guinness name. Its office was dismantled, and much of its data disappeared.
Kim Il-hwa, head of the Certificate of World Records, Korea, said the country has many diverse cultural records that would merit inclusion in the Guinness publication.
Mr. Kim has his own personal interest. Last year, his daughter Juri was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records ― she was 10 years and 297 days old when she performed a nine hour, 20 minute pansori concert at the Haenam Culture and Art Center on March 14, 2003. She thus became the youngest person to perform such a concert for the longest time.
The association aspires to do what the Guinness World Records office is doing ― collecting records. Guinness itself, although a universally recognized authority on records, is a private division of a large entertainment company.
The organization began after Sir Hugh Beaver, manager of the Guinness Brewery, got into an argument on a hunting trip over which was the fastest game bird in Europe ― the golden plover or the grouse.
He thought a book answering these sorts of questions would be popular, and commissioned a London fact-finding agency to compile what became the Guinness Book of Records.
The first edition was released in 1955, and it has since expanded, becoming a bestseller in more than 100 countries.
Records in the book that are held by Koreans or Korea are few; there are fewer than 10 listed on the official Web site, which contains about 40,000 records. Some of these include the highest flagpole on the North Korean side of Panmunjeom, the most women’s Olympic handball titles and the smallest mobile phone TV made by Samsung Electronics.
According to Mr. Kim, who recently met with headquarters officials in England, Guinness currently has no plans to establish a branch in Korea because its credibility has fallen. But he said the organization will permit the Certificate of World Records, Korea to act as an agent, and file world records on behalf of individuals.
The small organization is off to a slow start, because the three members each have their own jobs and are putting private funds into the massive project.
The group hopes that once news of its plans have spread, people will start sending in records of their own accord. After certain screening procedures, these will be included in their database, which can be accessed through their Web site. They also plan to seek the Guinness stamp for the more interesting records.
by Wohn Dong-hee