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S. Korea, Japan to begin consultations on return of looted royal books

All Headlines 11:35 July 18, 2011

SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Japan will start working-level consultations early next month on the return of more than 1,200 volumes of ancient Korean royal archives that Japan took during its 1910-45 colonial rule, foreign ministry officials said Monday.

The planned consultations, which will come about nine months after Japan promised to hand them over to South Korea in a goodwill gesture, are aimed at discussing details of the return, including how to pack them up and transport them to South Korea, officials said.

Last month, Japan completed its required domestic legal process to return a total of 1,205 volumes of Korean royal documents it seized during the colonial rule by Dec. 10 of this year at the latest.

Those documents include texts of royal protocols known as "Uigwe," all of which are being kept at the Imperial Household Agency in Tokyo.

"As the deadline of the return was clarified on an accord signed between South Korea and Japan, we expect the working-level consultations to go smoothly," said a foreign ministry official in Seoul.

Uigwe, a collection of documents from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), records and illustrates the procedures and formalities conducted for weddings, funerals, banquets and receiving foreign missions as well as the cultural activities of the royal family.

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