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Joseon-era exam papers to be revealed

More ancient Korean documents will be revealed to the public as part of a project of the Academy of Korean Studies to highlight Korea’s rich history and tradition, said Lee Bae-yong, president of the AKS, at a news conference on Tuesday in Seoul.

“The Academy has an extensive archive of valuable ancient materials, but we haven’t been active in sharing the ancient treasures with the public. We plan to bring the valuable resources to people and let their important lessons be told in contemporary society,” said Lee.

The Academy will reveal an extensive archive of answer sheets of the national civil service examination of the Joseon era for the first time as part of the effort. It has been translating ancient documents from its archive into modern Korean since last year. It aims to highlight more works and present them to the public. 
Lee Bae-yong, president of the Academy of Korean Studies (center), speaks during a news conference in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
Lee Bae-yong, president of the Academy of Korean Studies (center), speaks during a news conference in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The AKS has collected 300 answer sheets that used to belong to test takers who passed the Joseon civil service examination. The answer sheets of those who passed the test were kept as family treasures and handed down through the generations.

“The college entrance exam has been a hot issue every year and we would like to look into the civil service examination of Joseon as a comparison to today’s important national tests. The development of ancient documents is also in line with our effort to diversify our content for hallyu,” Lee added.

More documents are being prepared for the project, including ancient letters written in Korean by women that show their perceptions of family and society, as well as Uigwe, a collection of documents detailing the royal rituals and ceremonies of the Joseon era, listed as a UNESCO Memory of the World Heritage in 2007.

“These ancient materials mean nothing if they just sit in the archive. We need to bring them closer to the modern life so that they can connect with more people,” said Lee Sang-hoon, director of the AKS.

The AKS is also expected to complete its first project ― collecting evidence of Korean culture in foreign countries ― by the end of the year. The project, which began in 2011, has involved collecting proof of Korean culture in China. More research will be done in countries and regions including the U.S., Russia, Central Asia and Japan.

The Academy also pledged to actively reach out to the public with a series of talk events for students, civil service workers and general audiences, which will be held throughout the year.

By Lee Woo-young (