North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Photo Exhibit on Koguryo Tombs Opened at UNESCO

Tokhung-ri Tomb, Namp’o, South P’yo’ngan Province (Photo: Google image)

The United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organization [UNESCO] and the DPRK coordinated a photo exhibit on the excavation and conservation of the Koguryo Tombs [PDF] at UNSESCO from 11 October to 26 October.  DPRK state media reported that “Displayed in the venue of the exhibition are models of gates to the tomb, stone columns and stone walls of Koguryo tombs enabling visitors to have visual look at the contemporary architecture of tombs. On display there in a chronological order are photos and explanations of diverse themes including politics, economy, culture, military affairs and customs as well as 80 photos showing the cooperation between the DPRK and the organization and their activities for the preservation of the relics.”  The opening ceremony was attended by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and various UNESCO and DPRK officials.

Restoration work at the Susan-ri Tomb in Namp’o, South P’yo’ngan Province (top) and a view of the tomb (below) (Photos: UNESCO and Google image)

According to KCNA, in her speech, Bokova said “the mural paintings dating back to Koguryo, a country well-known for its power and prosperity for nearly 1 000 years from 277 B.C., constitute a precious wealth for the Korean people” and that “the mural paintings in Koguryo tombs were registered as World Heritage in 2004 as famous art pieces symbolic of the contemporary era, she stressed that the UNESCO’s activities will make contribution to regional peace and stability.”

Kangso’ Three Tombs, Namp’o, South P’yo’ngan Province (Photo: Google image)

According to a news release from UNESCO:

Over the last decade, the UNESCO/Republic of Korea Funds-in-Trust, started in 2001, introduced international standard of conservation for cultural heritage and considerably reinforced the national capacity in the field of conservation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.   In addition, since 2008 the Project began a full scale conservation work of the Susan-ri Tomb which mural paintings are counted as one of the most important and finest mural paintings for that era in the Northeast Asia. UNESCO experts together with the national expert of the DPRK have made painstaking efforts to safeguard this wonderful mural painting.

The photo exhibition testimonies to these decade-long efforts of UNESCO made in close co-operation with the authorities of the DPRK, by illustrating various moments of execution of the Project.

The Tombs and Mural Paintings of the Koguryo Kingdom, which flourished from the 1st BCE until 7th CE, are now the common heritage of the Korean people. They also represent an outstanding form of artistic expression for which the Complex of Koguryo tombs was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004.

In this project, UNESCO, by highlighting the role of shared cultural heritage, has been playing an important part in promoting dialogue and reconciliation in the Region. As such, the Project for Preservation of Koguryo Tombs and Mural Paintings features among the flagship projects of UNESCO in the field of safeguarding world cultural heritage.

The inauguration of this exhibition presided over by the Director-General of UNESCO takes place on 11 October 2012 at 17:30. It will be open to the public from 12 October 2012.

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October 2012