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Swedish king inherits cultural ties with Korea

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Published : 2012-05-30 19:33
Updated : 2012-05-30 19:33

Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife Queen Silvia visited the National Museum of Korea in Seoul on Tuesday to appreciate the beauty of Korean relics.

The Swedish king and queen headed to the museum on the first day of their four-day visit, demonstrating their keen interest in Korean culture and history.
Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf (third from right) and Queen Silvia (fourth from right) listen to Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik (second from right) explain about a golden crown from the Silla Kingdom at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul on Tuesday evening. (Culture Ministry)

Korea and Sweden enjoy a strong cultural tie starting with the former Swedish King Gustaf VI Adolf, the current king’s grandfather. The late king was one of the archaeologists who participated in an excavation of an ancient tomb in Gyeongju in 1926 when the country was under Japanese colonial rule.

The then-royal prince of the Scandinavian country was in Korea on a honeymoon touring Asia, and discovered a golden crown of the Silla Kingdom (57 BC-935 AD). The crown he found is currently on display at Gyeongju National Museum, an official at the culture ministry said.

The Swedish royal couple observed relics including a golden crown of the Silla Kingdom similar to the one discovered by the former Swedish king. Particularly, the queen expressed her interest in a Bangasayusang, or a gilt-bronze Maitreya Bodhisattva half-sitting thinking statue, calling it “beautiful.”

Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik, a historian and a former professor at Korea University, led the royal couple on the tour of the museum in Seoul. The king and the Korean minister met in February at the opening ceremony of the Korean room in Sweden’s Museum of East Asia in Stockholm. Choe promised the king that he would take him to the country’s largest museum when he visits Korea, officials said. The Korean antiquities exhibition room displays 160 of 350 Korean artifacts owned by the museum, including a golden earring set excavated by King Gustaf VI Adolf.

King Carl XVI Gustaf is also known to have interest in K-pop and wanted to experience Korean youth culture.

The royal couple leaves for Japan on June 1.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)

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