Visitors to the National Palace Museum take a look at the 19th century Hwangjejibo (Seal of the Emperor) made by King Gojong, Monday. / Yonhap
By Do Je-hae
One of the most visible outcomes for the Korean government of U.S. President Barack Obama's recent Korea trip was the return of ancient treasures previously removed from the country during the Korean War (1950-1953).
The public will finally have a chance to have a look at them during a special exhibition at the The National Palace Museum in Seoul from May 18 to Aug. 8.
"These treasures unfortunately left the country years ago, but have now come back to us through Korea-U.S. cooperation," said Rha Sun-hwa, chief of the Cultural Heritage Administration, in a statement Monday. "The exhibition will hopefully give visitors a chance to rethink the value of our traditional assets."
The exhibition includes three state seals used by monarchs of Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) on official documents, and six ceremonial ones used by members of the royal family.
The item that holds the most academic and cultural significance is the Hwangjejibo (Seal of the Emperor) that King Gojong made upon the establishment of the Korean Empire in 1897, succeeding the Joseon Kingdom.
The items were repatriated during a ceremony in Cheong Wa Dae with President Park Geun-hye and her U.S. counterpart, marking an important step in the nation's efforts to retrieve looted art.
In November, U.S. customs authorities obtained the seals from the family of a deceased U.S. Marine lieutenant who served during the Korean War. The 1978 UNESCO Cultural Property Implementation Act calls for the "return of cultural property to its countries of origin or its restitution" in cases where "illicit appropriation was established."