[KS] Koguryo inquiry

Frank Hoffmann hoffmann at koreaweb.ws
Thu Dec 28 05:53:48 EST 2006

To Junhi Han:

Reading your last posting I would like to make two points:


You wrote:

>First of all, through the article [by Dr 
>Petrov], one could believe that when the koguryo 
>cultural heritage was put on the list of WH from 
>Chinese side, then it could be considered as if 
>'Koguryo was named a Chinese state'. (...)
>Inscription of a cultural or natural property on 
>the List of WH provides in no case a direct link 
>to its cultural identity or nationality.

What is wrong with such statement? There was a 
pretty clear labeling attempt here, and as you 
know a very intense discussion followed. Wouldn't 
it be too blue-eyed to claim there was no such 
intended labeling going on? UNESCO declaring that 
things should not be this way seems wishful 
thinking at best. What is wrong here with Dr. 
Petrov's statement?


In your "authenticity" discussion, quoted below, 
you make it sound as if the adaption of a 
discourse that was going on in archaeology and 
art history a product of UNESCO's policy. I guess 
you do this in your function as UNESCO official. 
To me this seems like a reversal of reason and 
outcome. "Authenticity should comprise not only 
the physical but also intangible value[s] of 
monuments" -- that's indeed a one-to-one adoption 
of changes in perspectives of archaeology and art 
history. Every archaeologist knows that 
authenticity is a very elastic term that changes 
by the hour. Go to any Romanesque or Gothic 
European cathedral and what the average tourist 
may think is an authentic building was in fact 
restored and reconstructed ten times and each 
wall may show a different taste of a different 
period and that period's taste and representation 
of the past. In that sense we are never in a 
"historic" building "as it once was." If one 
looks closer the meaning of authenticity in Japan 
and its wooden building constructions and 
reconstructions are not any more extreme than is 
the case in Europe. I find it therefore also very 
questionable to point to the "beautification" of 
King Tongmyong's Tomb -- is what was done there 
any different from what was done at Notre Dame de 
Paris or in Dresden or at Sokkuram? I do not see 
any qualitative or structural difference. As for 
your Tan'gun Tomb example -- why is this called a 
"reconstruction"? Isn't it a construction? Or is 
there any archaeologic evidence that this 
completely new constructed pyramid is even the 
geographic site for the *mythological* founder of 
Koguryo? Not everything North Korea puts on the 
plate needs to be discussed as if it where on the 
same level in a scientific discourse.


quote Junhi Han:

>Regarding the authenticity, this is a very much 
>argued issue, I must say. However, I also would 
>like to mention that the notion of authenticity 
>has been evolved since 60s (since the 
>declaration of the Venice Charter) and it is now 
>applied into much broader context, in particular 
>since the adoption of the Document on 
>Authenticity declared in Nara 1994 (so-called 
>the Nara Document on Authenticity). Since then, 
>the notion on authenticity blindly applied until 
>recently according to the Venice Charter (1964) 
>is no longer valid.
>Authenticity should comprises not only physical 
>authenticity but also intangible value of 
>monuments or sites. The intangible value can be 
>traditional knowledge, technique or even 
>tradition(practice). For such reason, the 
>beautification of the Tongmyong Tomb (Jinpari X) 
>provided an intensive debates and deliberation 
>between experts involved in the evaluation and 
>in the WH inscription procedure. It is true that 
>in Korea, there is a tradition of taking care of 
>ancestors' tombs and beautification can be 
>perceived even as duty even for ordinary 
>citizensŠ  I do not know what is the usual 
>practice in South Korea or in China in care of a 
>dynasty's founder's tombsŠbut it was from this 
>point of view that the beautification of the 
>King Tongmyong' tomb was argued and finally 
>accepted. Fortunately, the tumulus itself was 
>not included in the beautification rangeŠ
>Certainly the beautification of Tongmyong' Tomb 
>is at a different level than the reconstruction 
>of the Tanggun Tomb which is not included among 
>the complex of the 63 Koguryo tombs inscribed on 
>the WH List. I am not arguing here that the 
>beautification of the Tongmyong Tomb was 
>appropriate or not, but simply say that this 
>issue could be seen from different anglesŠ.

Frank Hoffmann
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