NGO to Demand Return of Royal Texts From France
By Kwon Mee-yoo
A civic group held a rally in front of the French Embassy, in central Seoul, Tuesday, demanding the return of royal documents pillaged by French troops during the latter part of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). Activists from the group Cultural Action and high school students participated in the rally.
Recently, a Paris court rejected a suit filed by the Seoul-based organization that requested that French law exclude illegally-obtained property from its list of national assets.
The effort cost more than 100 million won and all the expenses were covered by donations, the civic group said. Cultural Action will raise more funds for an appeal they will file later this week. The organization estimated that around 100,000 euros will be needed to cover the expenses.
The civic group said that it will continue its legal battle irrespective of the government's efforts to resolve the issue.
"The government is trying to retrieve them through a permanent lease, but we intend to continue our campaign for full ownership," Hwang Pyoung-woo, who is in charge of cultural heritage issues at Cultural Action, said.
The royal protocol documents were originally housed in Oegyujanggak on Ganghwa Island, an annex of the royal library built by King Jeongjo. The building was destroyed and 297 books were stolen by French troops who raided the island in 1866.