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Ssireum becomes UNESCO intangible heritage

Posted November. 27, 2018 07:29,   

Updated November. 27, 2018 07:29


The two Koreas, jointly for the first time, put ssireum or Korean wrestling, on the list of UNESO intangible cultural heritages.

The Cultural Heritage Administration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Monday that the 13th UNESCO Intangible Heritage Committee, held in Port Louis, Mauritius, determined to add ssireum on the list of the intangible cultural heritages. The committee brought an urgent motion regarding the Korean traditional wrestling, for which the two Koreas made a joint bid. The 24 participating member states at the committee unanimously voted for the listing of ssireum.

Previously, Seoul and Pyongyang submitted an application for the registration of ssireum, respectively to the UNESCO. After the April inter-Korean summit was held in Panmunjom, the South proposed a join bid for the item, to which the North responded positively. Then, the two sides sped up relevant discussions. Adding to this, the international community generously supported the idea. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay proposed to President Moon during his visit to France that Seoul and Pyongyang would jointly apply for the listing of the Korean traditional wrestling.

The committee in charge of intangible heritages said during the meeting that the two Koreas’ ssireum have a lot in common in terms of traditional promotion and socio-cultural significance. It also revealed that the committee decided to accept an unprecedented bid by the two nations given that an assessment sub-committee recommended the idea previously.

The listing of ssireum with UNESCO has made the total number of intangible heritages , which Korea possesses, become 20 since haenyeo, Korean female divers on Jeju Island, was accepted in 2016.

Won-Mo Yu onemore@donga.com