A Tussle Over Treasures

Itoi, Kay; Lee, B. J.
February 2005
Newsweek (Pacific Edition);2/21/2005 (Pacific Edition), Vol. 145 Issue 8, p56
The article looks at the debate over artwork plundered from Korea by Japan. To whom do hundreds of thousands of ancient Korean artifacts in Japan rightfully belong? Koreans accuse the Japanese of plundering the artwork, mostly during their 36-year occupation of the peninsula, and they blame their own government for not seeking the objects' return. Most Japanese consider the issue a dead one, resolved by the 1965 Japan-Korea Treaty, which led to the return of some 1,400 items. Historians believe Japan carried away the bulk of its Korean cultural assets during two aggressions: the 16th-century invasion of the Korean peninsula and its 20th-century occupation. A young academic, Tokyo arts professor Yoko Hayashi, who recently conducted the first comprehensive study of the situation proposes promoting privately held relics exhibits, joint research by the two countries and long-term loans of Japan-owned Korean treasures to Korea. Still, the issue will not be quickly resolved.


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