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Businessman behind retrieval of artifact

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Published : 2014-07-15 20:51
Updated : 2014-07-15 20:51

Shin Sung-soo, chairman of Korea Industries Co., a local manufacturer of animal feed, is the man behind the latest retrieval of a rare Goryeo lacquerware artifact to its birthplace.

“I’ve seen it in photos and newspapers, but the moment I encountered it … it was just overwhelming,” the businessman and art collector said, stopping briefly to hold back tears.

He was speaking at a press conference as a senior member of the Friends of National Museum of Korea on the group’s donation of the artifact to the state-run museum.

Shin, who heads a collection committee of the FNMK, learned of the artifact through reports in Japanese newspapers in 2010. They reported a discovery of a Goryeo-era lacquered sutra box in the country. Until then, only eight were known to exist around the world ― five of them in Japan.

In fall 2013, he first contacted the newfound sutra box’s Japanese owner, a retired art and relic collector.

“At first, he was so firmly against the idea (of selling it to us). But we, too, were firmly determined to get this back to Korea,” Shin said.

He traveled to Japan more than 10 times to persuade the owner. Finally in May, they inked the deal.

“The Friends of National Museum of Korea are committed to retrieving high-quality Korean artifacts from overseas. We will continue this effort,” he added.

Founded in 1974, the FNMK is a group of people who love and support the Korean museum and work to promote its business, academic research and boost collection through donations.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)

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