This year there was significant progress made in South Korean efforts to have looted cultural assets returned to the nation.
The foreign ministers of South Korea and Japan agreed on November eighth that Japan will return one-thousand-205 ancient Korean books taken from the Korean Peninsula by Japan under colonial rule. The Korean books include a record of royal ceremonies and rituals called the “Joseon Wangsil Uigwe.”
In addition, ancient Korean books that were looted by French soldiers in the mid-19th century will also be returned to South Korea.
During a summit on November 12th, President Lee Myung-bak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed that France would lend the “Oegyujanggak” books to South Korea to be stored at the National Museum of Korea. The books, which are currently preserved at the National Library of France, were taken from a facility on Ganghwa Island during the French invasion of the island in 1866.
Though the books are returning to the nation in the form of a lease, South Korea will have the opportunity to renew the lease indefinitely, making it a de facto permanent return of the books.
However, the actual return of the cultural assets is expected to face difficulties, as some groups in Japan and France are strongly opposed to their return.