Ancient manuscripts returning home from Paris

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Ancient manuscripts returning home from Paris

The national museums of Korea and France have agreed that 297 volumes of Korea’s ancient royal protocol will be sent from Paris to Seoul, beginning later this month, according to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday.

“With this [agreement], every official discussion for the transfer of the Oegyujanggak books has been wrapped up,” said the ministry in a statement yesterday, welcoming the signing of the agreement between the National Library of France and the National Museums of Korea on Wednesday.

“The government will continue to cooperate with the French government to complete the transfer by May 31,” the statement read.

The Oegyujanggak books were the royal protocol and were kept at Oegyujanggak, a Joseon Dynasty-era royal library located in Ganghwa, Incheon.

297 of the books were taken in 1866 by the French Navy. One Oegyujanggak book was returned in 1993 by then-French President Francois Mitterrand. French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised to return the other books during the G-20 Summit.

Sarkozy’s promise became official when Park Heung-shin, Korean ambassador to France and Paul Jean-Ortiz, Asia director for the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, signed a treaty regarding the return last month.

The treaty stipulated that France would complete the return of the 297 books to the National Museum of Korea by May 31.

The treaty allows that some of the books will be taken to France briefly in 2015 and 2016 for an exhibition as part of Korea-France cultural exchange programs. The two countries agreed to a five-year agreement that could be renewed indefinitely.

The Oegyujanggak books will be exhibited for two months at the National Museum of Korea beginning July 18.

By Moon Gwang-lip []

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