National Palace Museum of Korea

National Palace Museum

EXHIBITIONS& COLLECTIONS

Special Exhibitions


Treasures of Ours, Treasured by Others – Journey of Korean Cultural Heritage

- date : 2022-07-07 ~ 2022-09-25

- place : Special Exhibition Gallery on the 1st Floor


Journey of Korean Cultural Heritage

Open the Exhibition

A considerable volume of Korean cultural heritage is currently found scattered across countries around the world. Depending on the circumstances surrounding their removal from Korea, the retrieval of these cultural properties is sometimes pursued. Alternatively, improvements to the utilization of overseas properties can be supported so that their value becomes better acknowledged in the places where they are being held. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation (OKCHF), The management of overseas Korean cultural heritage was unied through the founding of the OKCHF, enabling a more systematic response and eventually resulting in substantial achievements in terms of the retrieval and local utilization of overseas properties. This exhibition has been organized to provide an opportunity to retrace the journeys that Korean cultural heritage have undergone both at home and abroad. 

These journeys also encompass the stories of the people who have endeavored to restore the value of Korean cultural heritage items held in overseas collections. By looking back on these journeys, visitors will be able to gain a new perspective on the efforts to safeguard and share the value of Korean cultural heritage found in locations abroad.







1. Korean Cultural Heritage in Overseas Collections

The last one hundred years of Korean history are considered a period of unprecedented chaos and dramatic change. Korean cultural heritage faced all kinds of suffering and new risks amid threats coming from both inside and outside the country. Korean cultural heritage was defenselessly exposed to theft and other types of looting. Moreover, Korean people failed to protect some cultural properties out of ignorance of its value. Vast numbers of cultural properties were taken out of the country during this period of upheaval, with 214,208 known pieces (as of January 1, 2022) now found scattered across twenty five countries in Asia, Europe, and North and South America.

Korean Cultural Heritage in Overseas Collections


2. For Their Return

Since the circumstances under which Korean cultural properties have been taken out of the country vary, the process of retrieving them can be complicated. Once the presence of a given cultural heritage overseas becomes known, different measures can be taken based on its characteristics. In the case of cultural properties wrongfully taken overseas, their retrieval is pursued. Even if the illegality of the removal of the artifacts cannot be proven, their retrieval can be sought after taking into account their rarity in domestic collections or their artistic, historical, and cultural value.


For Their Return

For Their Return


3. Treasures of Ours, Treasured by Others

It is important to work not only to retrieve the essential cultural properties currently found abroad by taking into consideration the circumstances of their removal and their potential value in Korea but also to facilitate the utilization of overseas properties in the places where they are held. By supporting the preservation, management, and utilization of Korean cultural heritage in overseas museums, the OKCHF is striving to improve their utilization in foreign countries and encourage the people there to get to know them better. Through these endeavors, Korean cultural heritage in overseas collections are becoming important elements in the universal cultural heritage being preserved and protected around the world.

Treasures of Ours,  Treasured by Others