Korean technology restores vanished glory

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Korean technology restores vanished glory

The Angkor Wat of Cambodia has been reproduced in its entirety as a series of three-dimensional digital images. The images will be used as background material for movies, animations and games in the future, similar to the way a digitally reproduced Gyeongbok Palace was used as the background set for the movie “King And The Clown.” Although Ankor Wat is a foreign cultural asset, the technique is also expected to be applied actively to the Korean culture industry.
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The digital Angkor Wat, as the first application of Korean cultural technology to a foreign cultural asset.
The Angkor Wat is a Hindu temple that was built in the mid 12th century. It receives more than 3 million visitors every year. The grand stone edifice runs 1500 meters (4921 feet) from east to west and 1300 meters from north to south, and stands 65 meters tall. Japan, Germany, France and China have made continual efforts to restore damage to the temple that was caused by the Cambodian Civil War (1970-1975), but this is the first time the entire historic site has been digitally restored and experts say this project demonstrates the high standard of Korea’s cultural technology.
The “Digital Angkor Wat” is a virtual museum where Angkor Wat can be freely appreciated through cyberspace. The Angkor Wat site was thoroughly scanned using three-dimensional scanners, and around 30,000 pictures were taken.
Referring to sketches of Angkor Wat by Professor Nafilyan of Royal University of Phnom Penh in 1964 and the 50 gigabytes of processed information from the scans and photographs, the basic structure of the edifice was digitally reconstructed. Photographs of the actual relics were then applied to the digital reconstructions and the colors were filled in.
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A total of 500 million won ($550,000) was spent on the one-year project. The funds were granted by the Korea Culture & Content Agency and the digitalizing done by the Electronic Buddhist Text Institute of Dong-guk University and CG Wave, a company specializing in digital restoration. To make the digital Angkor Wat as close to the original as possible, experts in various areas, including Indian mythology, philosophy, archaeology, art and history worked as consultants on the project.

“Hwangryong Temple [a nine-story wooden tower of the largest Silla dynasty temple that burnt down 800 years ago] and the Muryeongwangneung royal tomb [the tomb of King Muryeong, the 25th king of the Baekje era, and his queen in Gongju, South Chungcheong province] have been digitally restored in Korea, but this was the first time a foreign cultural asset was digitally restored with Korea’s technology. With the know-how, skills and technologies that were accumulated from this project, we look forward to actively participating in digitally restoring more foreign cultural assets.” said Park Jin-ho, a researcher at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Cultural Technology Research Center.


by Park Jeong-Ho
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