[Weekender] From shovels to smartphones
CHA celebrates 50th anniversary of cultural heritage excavation and preservation
By Chung Ah-young
Over half a century, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) has had many unforgettable moments to look back on, from the destruction of Sungnyemun (National Treasure No. 1) by fire to the restoration of Gwanghwamun, the main entrance to Gyeongbok Palace. It has evolved from shoveling historical relics to digitalizing cultural content, bringing it closer to the public.
Established Oct. 2, 1961, the CHA has grown into an institution with 857 staff, which manages 3,825 cultural assets. There were only 294 staff who protected some 270 cultural heritages at its inception.
The institution has preserved the integrity of national cultural traditions and enhanced the cultural life of people by utilizing the historical sites.
Domestically, it has not only strived to protect and manage both tangible and intangible heritages while internationally it has devoted itself to promoting Korean heritage to the world for their registration on UNESCO lists.
Through these efforts, the CHA has raised awareness of the value and excellence of Korean cultural heritage around the world. It also strives to strengthen international cooperation in the field of cultural heritage through partnerships with other countries. The CHA also provides support for ancient tombs in Goguryeo (37 B.C.-668 A.D.) in North Korea to promote cultural heritage exchanges between the two countries.
To celebrate the occasion and promote their activities, special events are taking place, during Cultural Heritage Week, which began Sept. 26 and continues through Oct. 2.
The administration is holding academic seminars and providing mobile information to further promote cultural heritage content, traditional fashion show and photo exhibitions.
In November, to celebrate the 1,000th year of the first edition of the Tripitaka Koreana (Chojo Daejanggyeong), on which work was begun in 1011 and was completed in 1087, the government will organize nationwide commemoration events.
The National Palace Museum of Korea is holding an exhibition through Oct. 16, displaying various historical artifacts and visual materials to show the diverse activities of the CHA using high-tech devices.
Consisting of seven sections, the exhibition is designed to look back over the past 50 years. The content of the exhibition, including the relevant blogs and websites, is offered through QR codes. Visitors can take photographs and make their own digital albums.
The event aims to provide the past, present and future of the administration over the last 50 years in a broad context and show its diversity and identity through historical relics. Also the exhibition emphasizes the high-tech devices to comply with the needs of the time and attract more participation from visitors.
The nation’s oldest bicycle called “Uhm Bok-dong’s Bicycle” is on display at the exhibition. It was made between 1910 and 14 in the United Kingdom and used by cyclist Uhm Bok-dong (1892-1951) during the Japanese colonial period (1910-45).
A number of Goryeo celadon jars, used to carry honey and sesame oils, are presented along with other relics excavated from the seabed near Taean’s Ma Island, South Chungcheong Province. The discovery was part of an ongoing underwater excavation project that began in 2007 to recover maritime treasures in the area.
A photo exhibition will be held from Oct. 18 to 23 at Deoksu Palace. It will display some 50 photographs taken by ordinary people under the themes — family, friends, travel and the innocence of childhood.
The photos carry abundant stories and memories involving historical sites. Visitors can revel in nostalgia looking at the history of Korea’s heritage.
The Korea Heritage Fashion Show will be a highlight of the special events to mark the CHA’s 50th anniversary. It will be held on a special runway in front of Heungnyemun at Gyeongbok Palace on Oct. 2.
The fashion show aims to reinterpret traditional Korean fashion and its beauty in the context of a fusing of the old and the new, and at the same time look forward to the future.
Organized by the administration and the Korean Fashion Association, the show will begin at 7 p.m. when the sun goes down.
Artistic creations by 11 top Korean fashion designers such as Park Youn-soo, Park Chun-moo, Jang Kwang-hyo, Kwak Hyun-joo and Ha Sang-beg, alongside “hanbok” designers Kim Hye-soon and Lee Seo-yoon will be presented.
The garments will feature a diverse array of contemporary and traditional costumes using the motifs of traditional patterns, colors and inspirations of both tangible and intangible cultural assets. They will turn traditional cultural designs into their own contemporary aesthetics by blending individual senses.
The designers’ unique expression and modern senses will shine with the atmosphere of the royal palace. Various cultural performances will complement the show.
The event is open to the public free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Advance registration is recommended. For more information, visit the official website of the Korean Fashion Association (www.koreafashion.org).
Meanwhile, the government offers free admission to several major heritage sites. Through Oct. 2, four royal palaces in Seoul — Changdeok, Gyeongbok, Changgyeong and Deoksu — as well as Jongmyo Shrine and the Joseon royal tombs, will be open to the public free of charge. Visitors to Gyeongbok and Changgyeong Palaces can enjoy magnificent night views, as they will remain open until 10 p.m. from Oct. 5 to 9 for the former and from Oct. 3 to 9 for the latter. Last admission is 9 p.m.