-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Treasures from North Korea
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 2006 14:10:34 +0200 (MEST)
From: Heyryun KOH <Heyryun.Koh@ostasien.fak12.uni-muenchen.de>
Exhibition in Seoul: Treasures from North Korea
National Museum of Korea
2006 June 12.- August 16.
South and North Korea share the same history, but the 50-year division has made it difficult for the two to fully appreciate it. Many historical records and treasures are scattered in both countries, making them hard to access by people on either other side.
To tackle the problem and enhance cultural exchanges between both Koreas, a special exhibition in Seoul is now offering, for the first time, a chance for people in the South to see cultural properties from the North.
The exhibition ``Treasures from Pyongyang’’ features 90 significant
cultural treasures owned by North Korea.
It opened yesterday at the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan and
continues through Aug. 16.
The exhibition is divided into four sections from each era of Korean
history. Walking through the sections provides a quick guide to the whole Korean history as they show representative items from the Paleolithic Age to the Choson Kingdom (1392-1910).
At the entrance, a large screen shows a video about how the displayed
items came to be in Seoul.
They were borrowed from the (North) Korean Central History Museum in
Pyongyang after the two heads of the museums met last March and agreed to promote South-North cultural property exchange.
The artifacts were first moved from the museum in Pyongyang to an office
in Mt. Kumgang on May 1 and examined by staff from both museums until May 3. The next day, they were transferred to the South by land across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
In the prehistoric period section, stone tools, vessels and human skulls
show early life on the Korean Peninsula; from primitive to stratified
society and the beginning of primitive agriculture in the middle Neolithic
One of the interesting exhibits in the section is the oldest surviving
musical instrument in Korea. Made of a bird bone, it was excavated in Sopo Port, North Hamgyong Province and is estimated to be from around late 2000 B.C.
In the Kojoson Kingdom (around 2333 B.C.-108 B.C.) section various
treasures from the first nation in Korean history are displayed.
When North Korean scholars found the tomb of Tangun, the founding father
of Korea and first king of Kojoson, they proved the existence of the
nation, long believed to exist only in myth.
Many relics from the kingdom were found in tombs in Pyongyang, showing the kingdom prospered in the area around Pyongyang and not around Liaoning Province in China, as had long been argued.
Another section is devoted to the Koguryo Kingdom (37 BC- 668 AD) and
Palhae Kingdom (698-926).
They existed in the northern part of the peninsula and extended from
Pyongyang as far as what are now the Jian and Jilin provinces in
China has long claimed the two ancient kingdoms belong to them, but
exhibited items show they succeeded and developed the tradition and
culture of Kojoson, passing them down to later kingdoms.
The last section is for the Koryo (918-1392) and Choson kingdoms.
As Koryo held Buddhism as its national religion, its arts center on
Buddhism. Exhibited items include Buddha’s statues, paintings, decorative items used in temples, and vessels with Buddhist symbols.
The section also displays the exhibition’s most outstanding item, a bronze statue of Taejo Wang Kon, the first king of the Koryo Kingdom. The 138.3-centimeter-high statue was excavated in 1992 at his mausoleum in Kaesong.
It is believed the statue’s original Koryo costume was worn down, but due to lack of research on Koryo royal costumes, it is now on display with only a silk cloth on its lower part.
Koryo’s highly embellished Buddhist culture faced a crisis in Choson,
established by the Confusion elite and the taste in arts came to change.
Paintings by renowned artists Kim Hong-do (1745-1806), Jung Sun (1676-1759) and Shin Yun-bok (1768-?) from the Choson Kingdom are also on display.
After the exhibition in Seoul, it moves to the Taegu National Museum from Aug. 28 to Oct. 26.
(koreatimes 2006-06-13 18:03)
with kind regards,
Matthias Arnold (Art-Eastasia list)
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