Go to contents

Jikji to go on exhibition in France

Posted April. 12, 2023 08:07,   

Updated April. 12, 2023 08:07


"Jikji," the world's oldest extant book printed with movable metal type, will be displayed in France for the first time in half a century.

According to South Korea’s Cultural Heritage Administration on Tuesday, the National Library of France will hold an exhibition titled “Print! Gutenberg’s Europe” from April 12 (local time) to July 16.

In the exhibition that sheds light on printing techniques, Jikji will be the first item to display the invention of printing in history. Bois Protat (1400), the oldest Western woodblock for printing, and the Gutenberg Bible (1455), Europe’s first major book printed using movable type, will also be exhibited. “The exhibition acknowledges that Jikji is the world’s first book printed with metal type,” said an employee at South Korea’s Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation.

The book Jikji is a collection of teachings by Buddhist monks compiled by Baekwoon (1298-1374) in the late Goryeo period. It was printed in 1377 in metal type at Heungdeok Temple, 78 years earlier than the Gutenberg Bible.

Jikji was collected in the late Joseon period by Collin de Plancy (1853-1922), a French diplomat to Korea, and revealed to the public in 1900 at the Paris Exhibition. It was later sold off to a French art collector, who left a will to have it donated to the National Library of France in 1950.

It had been buried deep in the library collections for years until the late Park Byeong-seon (1928-2011), who had been working at the library, rediscovered it in 1972 and made the discovery public. It was exhibited in 1972, the World Book year, and 1973 in an exhibition titled “Treasures of the East.” It had been stored for 50 years at the library since. It was listed as a UNESCO Memory of the World in 2001 for its significance in printing history.

choigiza@donga.com · sys1201@donga.com