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U.S. president to bring ancient seals on Seoul trip

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Published : 2014-04-20 20:29
Updated : 2014-04-20 20:29

The U.S. government has agreed to return a set of Korean national treasures, shipped out of here by an American soldier during the 1950-53 Korean War, when President Barack Obama visits South Korea this week, Seoul said Sunday.

Obama is expected to arrive in Seoul on Friday for a two-day official visit, following a three-day stay in Tokyo.

“Washington has agreed to return the nine ancient Korean seals to Seoul on the occasion of Obama’s visit to Seoul,” the Cultural Heritage Administration said in a statement. “Discussions are under way on the specific procedures for delivery.”

Last November, U.S. customs authorities seized the seals from the family of a deceased U.S. Marine lieutenant who served in the three-year war in Korea. One of the seals is the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1901) Royal Seal, among other Korean treasures.

Especially, Hwangjejibo (Seal of the Emperor), the national seal made upon the establishment of the Korean Empire in 1897, is deemed highly significant both academically and historically as it symbolizes King Gojong’s will for independence.

South Korea had been in talks with the U.S. over the return of the seals.

Under a United Nations convention on illegally shipped cultural assets, the seals were originally scheduled to be returned to South Korea in June this year.

According to the administration, the U.S. customs authorities have seized two more Korean royal seals shipped them out of the country in the early 1950s, but it is expected to take a while to bring them back, pending a U.S. review of whether to punish the American holder. (Yonhap)

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