At this festival of archival culture and heritage around the world, treasures of the UNESCO’s Memory of the World were presented, including Korea’s Uigwe, the Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty, and Joseonwangjosillok, the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, that are seldom put out for public viewing.
At the International Exhibition of Archival Culture and Heritage, the IACE’s highlight program, invaluable records and archives from 47 countries containing their history and culture were on display.
Some of the items were Goryeo Daejanggyeong, the oldest and most intact example of Buddhist scriptures carved into 81,258 wooden printing blocks; Gutenberg Bible, a Latin vulgate bible printed by Johannes Gutenberg in 15th century; Grimm Brother’s Fairy Tales Collection which includes world-famous tales like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Red Cap, and Hansel and Gretel.
There were quite a many Korean items on display as well.
Uigwe (3,895 volumes) contains a collection of royal protocols of the Korean Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) which records and prescribes through text and stylized illustration the important ceremonies and rites of the royal family. And Seungjeongwon Ilgi (3,242 volumes) includes the largest amount of confidential records of the Joseon Dynasty. Those items demonstrate the precision and sophistication of the Joseon Dynasty’s archives.
The exhibition also presented :
Goryeo Daejanggyeong, a Korean collection of Buddhist scriptures carved onto 81,340 wooden printing blocks in the 13th century. It is the world’s most comprehensive and oldest intact version of Buddhist canon in Chinese script, with no known errors in the 52,382,960 characters.
Donguibogam, a collection of medical books written by Heo Jun, the most renowned royal physician of his times (1546-1615). It is Korea’s best-ever oriental medicine book up until today, and the most recent Korean item to be registered as a UNESCO Memory of the World.
Buljo Jikji Simche Yo Jeol, the world’s oldest specimen of movable metal type printing.
There was also a special section which contained records of past elections, ballot papers, and various promotional prints.
Lee Min-Ho, a visitor at the exhibition, commented, “The exhibition was a lot more informative and entertaining than I expected. I didn’t know Korea possessed such great archival heritage.”
Maeng Hyung-Gyu, Minister of Public Administration and Security, expressed in his congratulatory speech at the IACE’s opening ceremony, “The IACE will give us an opportunity to appreciate the importance of archives as a crucial source of knowledge. Also, through this exhibition I hope Korea’s outstanding archival capabilities can be shared with the world and be further augmented.”
Archives are precious resources that offer us insights into the past, present, and future. Even in these times of cutting-edge IT, Korea’s archival culture will, and should, endure.