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Korea, Japan seek to register records of Joseon goodwill missions on UNESCO list

South Korea and Japan plan to submit a joint application to register about 200-300 documents recording the “Joseon Tongsinsa” from 1607-1811 on the UNESCO Memory of the World list by March next year, the Busan Cultural Foundation said Monday. The updated documentary heritage list will be finalized by July or August 2017.
A reenactment of Joseon Tongsinsa at a festival in Busan (Korea Tourism Organization)
A reenactment of Joseon Tongsinsa at a festival in Busan (Korea Tourism Organization)

Joseon Tongsinsa refers to the series of diplomatic goodwill missions that the Joseon era (1392-1897) court sent to Japan’s leaders starting from 1428. Between the 17th and 19th century, the missions were sent as part of efforts to reestablish ties between the two countries following the Imjin War, or the Japanese invasion of Korea, that took place 1592-1598. Joseon sent envoys 12 times from 1607-1811.

More than 400 special Joseon envoys, including musicians, artists, chefs and diplomats, were dispatched not only to deliver the Joseon kings’ letters to Japan’s leaders, but also to introduce their culture to Japan. It was considered the largest diplomatic mission during the Joseon era.

The Busan Cultural Foundation said that Korea and Japan officially began to work together in May 2012 for the UNESCO listing of Joseon Tongsinsa after Korea asked Japan to join in the registration.

ince then, the two sides have held academic symposiums and seminars on the historic diplomatic procession in Busan and various cities of Japan, including Osaka and Tokyo.

The Busan Cultural Foundation is holding a seminar in Busan on Tuesday to further explain the background of the UNESCO listing. The official English name of Joseon Tongsingsa will also be discussed during the seminar.

“Both sides have not yet come up with the official English name of Joseon Tongsinsa that could be used for the UNESCO listing,” said a Busan Cultural Foundation official. “Participants at the seminar in Busan will discuss the matter and try to finalize the English name.”

By Park Hyong-ki(