Tradition Encounters the World; Special Exhibition Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Seoul National University
Date: Oct. 17 - 31, 2006
Place: Exhibition Hall of Kyujanggak
Exhibit: 100 Items, including Annals of Joseon Dynasty, Uigwe and maps of the world
Souvenir: Canvas bag with a drawing of a traditional dance scene from Wonhang Eulmyo Jeongri Uigwe
Kyujanggak is a treasure house of valuable Korean culture heritages, such as the Annals of Joseon Dynasty (Joseon Wangjo Sillok) and the Diary of the Office of Royal Secretaries (Seungjeongwon Ilgi), both designated UNESCO World Documentary Heritages, and also various documents such as the illustrated manuals of various state events (Euigwe), old maps, personal anthologies, and ancient documents which vividly reflect the lifestyle of the times.
The breadth and depth of traditional culture illustrated in these materials is quite remarkable, most notably the contacts made with diverse Eastern and Western countries outside of Korea. China and Japan had most frequent interchange with us. The travel journals of the envoys who visited China and Japan depict detailed records of the trip, while they lively describe their experiences in foreign countries which was a very rare opportunity at the time. The Seongho Saseol, Jibong Yuseol, and Ohjuyeonmun Jangjeonsango introduce in detail new information received from Western countries. Foreign language study books such as the Nogeoldae Eonhae and Baktongsa Eonhae also attract attention. These documents confirm the pioneering activities of intellectuals who had made ceaseless efforts to make contacts with the world, and that Joseon was never a secluded nation.
Korean world maps such as Honil Gangni Yeokdae Gukdo Jido, Hwadong Gojido, and Cheonha Dojido show changes in Korea's recognition of the world. Although many of these maps were made under the influence of Occidental missionaries, late Joseon world maps show that Joseon was not a closed society. Western science books translated into Korean show the acceptance of Western scientific technology, as well as progress toward the modern age.
Contacts with the West during the turbulent times of modern age were not always favorable. The Kyujanggak collection was considerably damaged during this time. In Byunginyangyo of 1866 (the French Invasion of Ganghwado), most of the royal holdings kept in the outer Kyujanggak were burnt, and 297 volumes of royal euigwe were plundered by the French troops. They are now kept in the Biblioth̥̥èque Nationale de France, Paris. In 1913, 788 volumes of the Annals of Joseon Dynasty from Mount Odae Archives were pillaged by the Japanese. Most of the stolen chronicles were destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and the 47 volumes that had survived were kept at the University of Tokyo. In July 2006, the 47 remaining volumes were returned to Korea after 93 years. It is our duty to permanently preserve and research the venerable cultural assets.