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140,000 Korean cultural artifacts scattered overseas

More than 140,000 Korean cultural artifacts are currently in overseas countries, the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage announced on Tuesday.

Last January the research institution drew up a list of Korea’s missing cultural assets that have been located in foreign countries.

At the time, the list had concluded that there are a total of 116,896 Korean items located overseas.

The newly released list has an updated number of 140,560. The items are reported to be owned by 549 foreign institutions and individuals, dispersed in a total of 20 different countries.
A set of binyeo, Korean traditional ornamental hairpins, housed in a museum in Leipzig, Germany. (National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage)
A set of binyeo, Korean traditional ornamental hairpins, housed in a museum in Leipzig, Germany. (National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage)

“We’ve found 23,000 more cultural assets since January of last year,” said Park Dae-nam, senior researcher of the institute.

According to Park, the research institution has been tracking down missing Korean artifacts located overseas since 2002.

Last year, the institute staff visited a total of 98 U.S. museums and libraries, and 19 German museums and libraries. They also visited museums in Russia and Canada.

According to the report, Japan houses the largest number of Korean artifacts at 65,000 pieces. The U.S. houses the second-greatest number of items, about 38,000, while Germany has about 10,000.

The national institute will continue updating the current list, Park said.

By Claire Lee (clairelee@heraldcorp.com)
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