Relics’ return requires finesse and networks
Kim Jeong-dong of Mokwon University claims to have first sighted the pagoda in 1995 during his stay in Japan as a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo. He was working at the time to have the remains of Jaseondang from Gyeongbok Palace returned to Korea.
Kim, a professor of architecture who is currently preparing a book on displaced Korean cultural relics in Japan, claims he no longer participates in efforts to recover the five-story pagoda of Ichon after the Tokyo visit in September. However, he did show concern about civic groups’ methods.
“I noticed a plaque providing the history and origin of the five-story pagoda of Ichon when I first came across it in 1995. However, the plaque is no longer there,” he said.
Part of the problem was a Korean television crew that used aggressive tactics to demand the pagoda’s return a few years ago. That, along with the emotional approach used by civic groups, has Kim worried.
Kim believes it’s important to make good relations with the representatives of the Okura Cultural Foundation through frequent meetings and quietly create networks that can help the entire cause rather than make noise through the media.