The National Archives and Records Service (NARS) has been searching for the first Seal of State of the Republic of Korea (ROK) since the end of last year, but has failed to identify the whereabouts of the seal.
NARS announced on October 28 that since late last year, the agency has examined some 60 officials in charge of production and management of the first Seal of State, which had been used from the very establishment of the Korean government in 1948 till the end of 1962, in an unsuccessful effort to find clues about the seal.
The discovery of a document that includes a different-shaped seal from the one possessed by NARS, however, raised questions as to which one might be the authentic Seal of State.
NARS discovered that the Seal of State was produced by Cheongsangdang in Chungmu-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul.
The agency also discovered that the handle of the seal was dragon-shaped when it analyzed a picture book of the ancient royal seals written by Jeong Gi-ho, a royal seal engraving master who allegedly engaged in production of the Seal of the State.
It failed to verify the authenticity of the seal, however, as 11 picture documents provided for NARS by the former Ministry of Culture and Public Information (MOCPI) showed that the handle of the seal had the shape of a Korean sapsaree dog.
A sapsaree-shaped handle was rarely used for a Seal of State. Furthermore, the dog was diagonally located, unlike the conventional way. Against this backdrop, some raised doubts about whether the seal in the picture documents is the authentic version of the first Seal of State.
One official who had managed the first Seal of State reportedly argued that the handle of the seal had the shape of a dragon, not a sapsaree.
It is too premature to draw any conclusions, as possibilities are that they might have made and used another Seal of State, with the authentic version of the seal simply being safe kept, said Director Park Chan-woo of NARS.
We will do our best to identify the whereabouts of the seal on the basis of records in the possession of NARS and testimonies from relevant officials. In the case that it turns out impossible to locate the seal, we are planning to restore the Seal of the State based on historical research, added the NARS director.
If you have any information on the first Seal of State, please call 042-481-6316∼7 at the Preservation and Maintenance Team of NARS.