Royal documents of the Korea’s family stolen by French troops in 1886, when they invaded Kanghwa Island — off the west coast– to retaliate against Korea’s persecution of French catholic missionaries were finally home after 145 years. The South Korean government has been trying to retrieve the collection, since a historian discovered it at the National Library of France in 1978.
Hwang Pyung Woo, Head of Korea cultural heritage policy research institute said: “It says they will be leased only for five years. It doesn’t say after five years, they may be given back to France, but that they must be given back. They will eventually go back to France.” France will have to extend the lease, if the books are to remain in this country after 5 years. Experts said the government did well in persuading France to return these rare books, but more needs to be done to find a way to keep them at home.
The first of the four batches arrived back on Apr 14 and is kept at the National Museum in Seoul. The last is scheduled to arrive in May and they will be available for public viewing from July. These books give historical insight into the protocol for royal funerals, weddings, and other ceremonies during the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910.