By Kim Tong-hyung
A 16th century war diary written by legendary naval commander Yi Sun-sin will be debated for consideration as a potential addition to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register during a meeting in June, government officials said Wednesday.
Designated as the country's National Treasure No. 76, the ''Nanjung Ilgi,'' written by Yi during the 1592-1598 Japanese invasion of Korea, or the Imjin War, has been considered historically significant due to its detailed descriptions of strategies, weaponry and military culture of the time.
The preliminary decision on whether to include Nanjung Ilgi on the UNESCO list will be made at the International Advisory Committee (IAC) meeting scheduled for June 18 to 21 in Gwangju, the Cultural Heritage Administration said. The IAC is a sub-committee of experts pre-examining items to be possibly nominated for the Memory of the World list.
Another Korean item to be discussed at the IAC are records relating to the country's ''Saemaeul Movement,'' launched in 1970 by military strongman Park Chung-hee, the father of current President Park Geun-hye.
The movement, which roughly translates as ''new community movement,'' represented a significant national effort to modernize agricultural communities and fire up their economies. Including the two, a total of 80 nominations are up for screening at the upcoming meeting.
The move to put the Saemeul documents in the UNESCO discussion has been a subject of political debate here as the late Park is equally remembered for his achievements as an economic strategist and bloody civilian suppression.
Korea currently has nine heritage items on UNESCO's the Memory of the World Register, including "hunminjeongeum," the original manuscript of hangeul, the Korean alphabet. The Memory of the World program, established in 1992, seeks to protect the world's valuable documents and records and widen public access to them through the Internet.
Yi remains a venerated hero among Koreans for his victories against the Japanese navy in the war. His most remarkable achievement occurred at the Battle of Myeongnyang Sea in 1597. Outnumbered 333 ships to 31, Yi delivered an astonishing victory taking advantage of his knowledge of the waters and geography. Yi was killed in action at the Battle of Noryang Sea in 1598, which was one of the last major battles of the war.