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S. Korea celebrates return of ancient Korean books from Japan

All Headlines 14:04 December 13, 2011

SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Tuesday celebrated the return of hundreds of centuries-old Korean royal books from Japan with a procession and traditional ceremonies.

The celebration came after 1,200 ancient books stolen by Japan during its 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula arrived in the country early this month.

The books include a collection of documents known as "Uigwe," which records and illustrates royal protocols used during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The texts describe the procedures and formalities used to conduct weddings, funerals, banquets and other royal events.

The books had been kept by the Japanese Imperial Household Agency.

Tuesday's ceremonies took place at the Jongmyo royal shrine in central Seoul where the memorial services for the kings and queens were performed in the Joseon era. They started with a traditional enshrinement procession from the entrance of the Jongmyo Park to the front yard of the ancestral shrine that has memorial tablets for greatly honored kings and their queens.

The parade involving about 90 people in hanbok, colorful traditional Korean costumes, continued until an escorted palanquin carrying some of the returned books arrived at the yard.

It then was followed by an enshrinement ceremony for the books and a special Confucian rite.

After the ceremonies, the books were carried back to the National Palace Museum in central Seoul where they will be kept.

Another set of traditional ceremonies is scheduled to be held at Woljeong Temple in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province, on Friday, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration. The Buddhist temple was the original place of storage for about half of the 1,200 books.

The books will be on display during a special exhibition scheduled from Dec. 27 to Feb. 5. at the museum.

Tokyo agreed to give the books back in November 2010 as part of efforts to improve its relations with Seoul. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda returned five ancient books in advance of the Dec. 6 event during a recent visit to South Korea.

South Korea also recently brought back ancient texts looted by France.


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