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Korea’s Confucian academies to be listed as UNESCO heritage

Korea’s Confucian academies to be listed as UNESCO heritage

Posted May. 15, 2019 07:36,   

Updated May. 15, 2019 07:36


It is highly likely that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will name Korea’s Confucian academies promoting and teaching the lessons of Neo-Confucianism on the World Heritage list.

The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea said on Tuesday that the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a UNESCO-affiliated organization, advised Korea’s Confucian academies to be registered as a World Heritage. ICOMOS carries out a prior deliberation on heritage candidates, and later classifies their class into Inscription, Referral, Deferral and Non-inscription. The results are transmitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Center and the relevant country. A heritage in the Inscription state is registered, with few exception, by the World Heritage Committee.

There are nine Confucian academies in Korea – Sosu Seowon Confucian Academy in Yeongju, the first of its kind, which was also named Baegundong Seowon by Joo Se-boong (1495-1554); Oksan Seowon in Gyeongju; Dosan Seowon and Byeongsan Seowon in Andong; Dodong Seowon in Dalseong; Namgye Seowon in Hamyang; Museong Seowon; Piram Seowon in Jangseong; and Donam Seowon in Nonsan. They all were designated as historical landmarks before 2009, while being assessed to be well-maintained in their original state.

Korea’s Confucian academies represent the development of Confucianism, promoting Neo-Confucianism and showing formal patterns in shapes, according to ICOMOS’s eval‎uations. Thus, they meet the requirements of excellent universal value as a World Heritage. However, the eval‎uation organization advised a comprehensive way of preserving nine Confucian academies in Korea as an additional implementation assignment. The Cultural Heritage Administration announced to make improvements as suggested by ICOMOS in consultation with relevant municipalities.

The final decision will be made during the 43rd UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Baku in the Azerbaijani Republic between June 30 and July 10 this year.

Won-Mo Yu onemore@donga.com