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Several ancient Korean books made available online

By Korea Herald

Published : April 17, 2013 - 20:19

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More than a thousand ancient Korean books of academic value in a U.S. university and a Japanese library are now available on the Internet as a South Korean university has recently begun an online scanning service.

Korea University’s Center for Korean Studies Materials said Wednesday it has recently opened a website (http://kostma.korea.ac.kr/riks) that provides the scanned images of some 1,000 books and 50 volumes of printed material from Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) that are now in the possession of the University of California, Berkeley and the Oriental Library in Tokyo.
A copy of “Tale of Hong Gildong” which is held in the Oriental Library in Tokyo, Japan. A copy of “Tale of Hong Gildong” which is held in the Oriental Library in Tokyo, Japan.

Original copies of the books were unable to be returned home because most of them had been taken out of the country during the Joseon era or during Japan’s colonial rule of Korea from 1910 to 1945. But the online service is as meaningful as returning the original copies, as Koreans have easier access to the materials without having to go abroad to see them.

Also available is bibliographic information on some 1,400 Korean books out of 2,197 Korean books at the U.S. university and 500 out of 2,000 sorts of Korean books in the Japanese library.

Some of them provide more detailed information on the content.

The center has been working on the digitalization of the old Korean books from the two organizations since November 2008 to increase accessibility to the materials.

More Korean books there are expected to become available online later as the university’s work has picked up speed.

“There are approximately 150,000 Korean cultural assets in foreign countries,” said Jeong Woo-bong, a Korean literature professor at Korea University who leads the project.

“As it is in fact impossible to reclaim them, we need to devise measures to practically use them,” he said. (Yonhap News)