A step toward restoring Korea’s lost legacy

By Kim Yoon-mi

In November the French and the Japanese governments announced they would return the Joseon-period royal books on court rites and ceremonies that had been taken by force from Korea in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The announcements mark the end of years of negotiations between governments and relentless efforts by activists to have the priceless artifacts repatriated. To mark this significant milestone, The Korea Herald offers a four-part series on the return of “Uigwe,” the royal books on rites and ceremonies. Following is the first installment. ? Ed.

Imagine the beads of perspiration forming on the brows of Korean scribes as they wrote and drew, by hand, every minute detail of the royal protocols of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) ? a practice that lasted 500 years. And then imagine how the Koreans must have felt when they saw the militant French and the Japanese taking them away as war trophies in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Now, the looted “Uigwe,” or manuscripts of royal protocols, are to finally come home after President Lee Myung-bak reached agreements with his counterparts French President Nicholas Sarkozy and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan in a series of bilateral talks on the sidelines of the G20 Seoul Summit and APEC summit in November.

President Lee Myung-bak (right) and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan look at a copy of “Uigwe” at a hotel in Japan on Nov. 14. (Yonhap News)

Officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea and civilian experts say the bilateral accords with France and Japan are fruitful, considering the value of the Uigwe and the nation’s decades-long negotiations to have them repatriated in the midst of global tension over looted cultural artifacts.

A page of “Uigwe,” a collection of royal protocols from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), illustrates the wedding ceremony of King Sunjong (1874-1926) and his wife, Empress Sunmyeonghyo. (Yonhap News)

But there are those who disagree, arguing that the agreements are only a partial a success, as France’s five-year renewable “loan” should have been a permanent repatriation, restoring Korea’s ownership of the assets. Also, Japan’s “transfer” of the Uigwe and other artifacts does not guarantee a return of many other remaining looted artifacts from Japan.

According to the joint statement announced by Korea and France on Nov. 12, France will lease 297 Uigwe books, taken the during the French invasion of Ganghwa Island in 1866 and now kept at the National Library of France, to the National Museum of Korea in Seoul for five years, after which the lease will be renewed automatically every five years.

Earlier on Nov. 8, Japan agreed to transfer a total of 1,205 looted Korean books, including Uigwe.

Japan is to return all of the 167 Uigwe books it took and has stored at the Imperial Household Agency since 1922, along with 1,038 other books.

Among the 1,038 books, 938 are those taken from Gyujanggak by Ito Hirobumi, the first Japanese resident-general in Korea, and the Japanese Government General in Joseon in the early 1900s. Others are 99 volumes of “Additional Data from the Munhonbigo,” an encyclopedia written by scholars of Joseon from the late 1600s to the late 1700s, and one copy of “Great Administrative Code,” a code of laws written in the late Joseon period.

Specific dates for the return of the Korean artifacts have not been officially set but the relics in Japan are scheduled to be transferred in about six months once the Diet approves the bilateral agreement, government officials said.

Return of Uigwe from France, however, could be delayed due to a strong resistance from curators at the National Library of France, who recently started a petition drive to protest Sarkozy’s announcement. They reportedly demand digitization of the Uigwe books which many observers believe is aimed at delaying the loan.

The curators are opposed to the five-year loan because it runs counter to French law, which prohibits the leasing of a public collection. The Uigwe books were registered as French property.

A government official at the Korean Embassy in France, who was in charge of fine-tuning the bilateral agreement, said the French government is showing a strong will to implement Sarkozy’s announcement as soon as possible.

“More than 300 curators signed the petition but the French government has not brought up the issue of digitization of Uigwe,” the official said in an e-mail interview.

Sarkozy’s decision to return the books, despite the strong resistance from the curators of the National Library of France, is a big step, said Park Sang-kuk, director of the Korean Cultural Heritage Institute, a private cultural research organization. Park is a former official at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage.

He rejected civic groups’ claims that the Korean government should have pushed harder for Korea’s permanent ownership of its cultural property, instead of being satisfied with the “loan.”

“France earns lots of tourism money through museums and galleries and the latest decision could affect other looted artifacts now held at French museums. This is what France is most worried about. It was a big decision on part of France,” Park said.

However, Hwang Pyung-woo, director of the Korea Cultural Heritage Policy Research Institute and an activist at Cultural Action, an NGO, said allowing France to “lease” Uigwe is like saying the 1866 French invasion was justifiable.

“I would call the government officials who negotiated to ‘borrow’ our looted property traitors,” Hwang said.

“Expert study and cultural exchanges between Korean and French civil experts should have come first. Political decisions should have come later. The negotiations with France and Japan were just a political show,” he said.

Uigwe books are unique in that they display both text and hand-drawn illustrations of significant rites and ceremonies of the royal family of Joseon, including weddings, funerals, banquets and receiving of foreign missions as well as other state rituals and celebrations.

Experts say such royal recordings do not exist in any other Asian countries.

The 297 Uigwe books in France were made in the 17th and 18th centuries and stored in Oegyujanggak, an annex of Gyujanggak, or the Royal Library, on Ganghwa Island, ironically, for safe keeping against invaders.

The first Uigwe book is believed to have been published during the reign of King Taejo, the first Joseon king, in the 14th century but the surviving Uigwe books are mostly from the 17th century, according to Hwang Jung-yon, curator at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage.

“Uigwe books had to be very neatly written by Sajagwan, the scribes, who were experts in calligraphy. Usually, they made nine copies of each Uigwe ? for the King, the Crown Prince and each government office,” she said.

Korea did not know the whereabouts of the 297 lost Uigwe books until 1975 when Park Byeng-sen, a Korean staff member at the National Library of France, discovered that books at the library classified as Chinese were in fact Korean royal books.

In 1993, then French President Francois Mitterrand promised to return the cultural artifacts in a summit with then Korean President Kim Young-sam, in return for Korea signing with a French company for a high-speed train project.

Then President Kim Young-sam (right) and then French President Francois Mitterrand look at a returned “Uigwe” book at a summit at Cheong Wa Dae in 1993. (Yonhap News)

Out of the 297 books, however, Korea received only one, followed by yet more negotiations to retrieve the rest. From 2007 to 2008, Korea brought home digitized versions of 30 volumes of Uigwe out of 297.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldm.com)


Doug Nowling, Director General
Nowling sahyun has been a long time student of the martial arts and a history major and has been published and continues to promote all martial arts via the Kido Kwan blogs.
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S. Korea humiliated in Asiad taekwondo

By Yi Whan-woo

The South Korean taekwondo team suffered a humiliating defeat on the first day of the event during the Asian Games, Wednesday, settling for one silver, while two other athletes were ousted in the preliminary round.

The result dented the nation’s reputation as the home of the sport, while drawing attention to the poor performances put up by the Korean practitioners in the four-day event.

The athletes were passive in their approach, earning points mostly from their opponents being penalized, including Park Yong-hyun in the men’s 87-kilogram who lost 3-4 in the final.

Park earned the only one point on his own in the second of the three rounds against Iran’s Yousef Karami.

After a scoreless bout in the first round, the Iranian put pressure on Park with three points and another one in the following round. Karami conceded two penalty points that gave the helpless South Korean the appearance of a close match.

Jang Kyeng-hun in the men’s 74-kilogram and Hwang Mi-na in the women’s 46-kilogram class were a shock disappointing elimination in the beginning.

While the host nation of the Guangzhou Asiad was criticized for abrupt changes in the event’s schedule as the decision could affect players’ adjustment to the conditions, the timing of the eliminated pair’s matches was unaltered.

Jang suffered a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Alireza Nassrazadany of Iran, only retrieving a point because the Iranian was penalized. Nassrazadany dominated by earning two points in the first and last round in the three-round bout.

Hwang was up next, suffering a 7-2 loss to Taiwan’s Huang Hsien-yung.

The match was similar to Jang’s as the South Korean did not earn a single point on her own and rather benefitted from two penalty points given against Huang. Hwang was also penalized a point in a match she never looked like winning.

Doug Nowling, Director General
Nowling sahyun has been a long time student of the martial arts and a history major and has been published and continues to promote all martial arts via the Kido Kwan blogs.
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What We Consider To Be The Top 10 Recommended Martial Arts Movies


What you are reading is a very careful consideration of what we consider to be the Top 10 Recommended Martial Arts Movies, in human existence. Please take time to note that a lot of careful work and consideration went into this list, however these type of movie lists are often the subject of heavy debate. This is why it is so important to always remember that this list is just one writer’s opinion and yours might greatly differ. One important thing to note is that storyline, as well as character development, were sometimes put into heavier consideration that the quality of the stunt work being presented.

It would be hard for many critics to argue with our number one choice of all time. The early seventies film that made Bruce Lee a house hold name, even in America. We are naturally speaking about “Dragon: Enter the Fist”. This is consider by the largest portion of critics to be Lee’s greatest film.

This next choice might surprise some people, but we are going to have to go with the American film: “The Karate Kid”. Remade for the new generation in 2010, the original picture is not only very well done but also considered to be a staple of 1980’s American cinema by many critics.

The next choice is a very fun movie to watch and it is also very artistic. We are naturally speaking of “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”. This is the picture that proved that America cannot compete with the Asians that founded this genre, not even in this generation.

Right out of the decade known as the nineteen nineties, it’s the picture that introduced a wider audience to the work of Jackie Chan. We are of course talking about “Rumble in the Bronx”. Chan received some pretty heavy injuries making this film so great.

In the middle of our little it’s Jet Li. His film “Hero”, is considered by many to be some of the greatest work he has ever done on screen.

Fearless” would have to be not only the sixth entry but the second Jet Li entry. A very entertaining picture from 2002, directed by American horror genre regular, Ronny Yu.

The next film is very important to take note of as it brought Jackie Chan heavily into American and world Culture. This would be the late ninety’s comedy “Rush Hour”. A film that Chan made with comedian Chris Tucker. There are two sequels but they can’t hold a candle to the original.

This film happens to be based of the first very successful martial arts video game to ever be shared by many, the world over. We are now speaking of “Mortal Kombat”, it holds a spot in the hearts of many people that grew up playing this game.

Quentin Tarentino really earned these last two slots with his wildly successful Kill Bill films. Volume I is really great for people who love the idea of paying homage to seventies exploitation films based around the genre of kung fu.

We had to put “Kill Bill: Volume II”, on our list because it finishes the awesome story that the first one started. There is no denying the unique nature of this picture.

It is now hoped that our little guide on Top 10 Recommended Martial Arts Movies, will help the martial arts junkies out there find a great film to enjoy. If you’ve seen most of these films, consider watching them again. These results may be debated, however it is of a high level of importance to consider that much research and consideration, went into making this little list.

Looking online for the best selection of Karate Movies? Then be sure to visit Frightflicks.com – Watch Kung fu Movies and enjoy a massive selection of Karate Movies, Martial Arts Movies and Online Movies.


Doug Nowling, Director General
Nowling sahyun has been a long time student of the martial arts and a history major and has been published and continues to promote all martial arts via the Kido Kwan blogs.
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New rules for taekwondo take immediate effect

October 14 – The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) has introduced new rules for the sport, including changes to the scoring system.

Under the new WTF Competition Rules, which will take effect immediately, four points will be awarded to an athlete for a valid turning kick to the head.

And in the case of a 12-point difference between competitors at the end of the second round, the referee will stop the contest and declare the winner.

Where there are four judges or three judges, valid points shall be those scored by at least two or more judges.

The protest system has also been removed, with the introduction of an instant video replay system.

At its meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the General Assembly unanimously approved the proposed amendment to the WTF Rules and Regulations, the proposed amendment to the WTF Competition Rules, and the proposed amendment to the Rules on Organisation and Operation of International Taekwondo Championships.

Among the major changes to the WTF Rules and Regulations, which will take effect immediately, are the change of the name of the WTF Rules and Regulations to the WTF Statutes, the deletion of the Executive Committee, and the increase in the number of WTF Council members from 32 to 35.

Under the new WTF Statutes, English is the only official language, while French, Korean and Spanish are auxiliary languages.

English is the controlling language of both the WTF Statues and the Competition Rules.

To date, Korean had been the controlling language for the Competition Rules.

Big changes were made in the Continental Union section in order to allow greater flexibility in the management of the overall WTF structure and for greater communications between the WTF and the Continental Unions.


Some additions were made concerning the WTF missions and objectivities, the WTF activities and resources, the intellectual property, the Host City Agreement, the sanctions and dispute resolution.

“The amendment is to rationalise the organisation and further clarify the definitions to make it easier for all member national associations to understand,” said WTF President Chungwon Choue.

“It is also to set the foundation for greater co-operation among the member national associations, Continental Unions and the WTF by providing for more structured channels for better communication in a comprehensive and coordinated way.

“After the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, significant progress in taekwondo competition has been brought by introducing the protector and scoring system, the world ranking system, and the instant video replay system.

“Now we have stepped forward to improve again our sport through rule changes to meet the global standard as an Olympic sport.”

The WTF General Assembly received a presentation on the proposed WTF Global Membership System and the Mandatory International Athlete Licence, which will be implemented as early as next year.

“The General Assembly has been very fruitful,” said Choue.

“I believe the path the WTF is heading toward has been set and it will be of great success.

“There is no doubt that when our family come together as one, all things are possible to accomplish.

“s one, we must remain united in our endeavours to become a permanent fixture in the Olympic programme.

“Also, we have worked very hard to open our sport up to everyone, even those who have special physical needs.

“We must continue to hold our attention in giving those athletes a chance to have their moments in the Olympic light.

“We have accomplished so much together.

“We must continue to build on our achievements.

“There is so much that we have to offer the world, and they are in need of it.”

The World Taekwondo Federation approved New Caledonia as its 192nd member national association and, with the General Assembly’s approval, Burundi became a full member and Macau was granted a full member status in recognition of its contribution to the development of the WTF.


Doug Nowling, Director General
Nowling sahyun has been a long time student of the martial arts and a history major and has been published and continues to promote all martial arts via the Kido Kwan blogs.
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Kukkiwon reborn as Mecca for Taekwondo

By Yi Whan-woo

It has been 22 years since taekwondo made its debut on the international stage at the 1988 Seoul Olympics as a demonstration sport. The Korean martial art has made strenuous efforts to promote the taekwondo spirit and is consequently being recognized worldwide among other sports in the same category.

Kukkiwon, the world taekwondo headquarters, has been desperate to spread such discipline among several organizations. The place regarded as a Mecca by both local and international taekwondo practitioners, is now seeking to enable the sport to serve as a diplomatic means as does “hallyu”, a Korean pop-culture syndrome prevalent in Asia and other part of the world.

“Taekwondo is an effective tool for communication with people around the world,” Kukkiwon PresidentKang Won-sik told The Korea Times.

“The term ‘diplomatic’ does not mean the sport reaches out to the people in a formal way to promote Korea,” he said.

Kang, 73, emphasized the mechanism in relation to hallyu, “As hallyu gradually but consistently grew to draw attention of the young population internationally, leading to favoritism for Korea, Kukkiwon intends to bring worldwide interests to the nation with taekwondo as a bridge,” Kangsaid.

Since taking office on June 11, Kang has attempted to embrace international practitioners by modifying the Kukkiwon rules on Aug. 31 to include foreigners on the board of directors for the first time ever.

While the decision also aimed at other purposes, putting five presidents of the federation from their respective continents _ Africa, the AmericasAsiaEurope, and Oceania ? it was regarded as a surprising and refreshing move.

The headquarters had been stubborn in keeping only Korean board members, and its function was limited to governing administrative missions such as teaching, testing, and issuing dans ? an proficiency term for ranks with black belts.

The organization is taking steps to bring its overseas disciples altogether, with the aim of publicizingKorea.

“All these and other measures were intended to discontinue the concept of ‘Koreans only,’ ” Kang said.

“Employment of continental representatives as board members is significant, so that the headquarters can grow into an organization dedicated to taekwondo followers and a valuable asset for the nation and the society,” he added.

As a means of reinforcing the unprecedented change of rule, Kang instructed all the Kukkiwon staff to earn a dan.

“I felt the need for every Kukkiwon member to have a background in the sport,” Kang said.

Kukkiwon President Kang Won-sik.


Kukkiwon is now focusing on how the sport can transform itself into an essential tool toward peace and mental spirit.

Toward that end, it is now poised to spare no efforts to make peace with other taekwondo sectors and organizations ? the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), the Korea Taekwondo Association(KTA) and even the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) of North Korea.

Kukkiwon was set up in 1971 in southern Seoul and established the WTF which is now run independently. It also integrated 10 “kwans,” the units of the taekwondo community where practitioners train under a master, under the organization in 1978.

Such a move was to develop and facilitate the interactions between the followers that could lead to the organization’s overseas expansion.

Former IOC vice president Kim Un-yong long served as the Kukkiwon president from 1971 until 1991. He played a leading role in the sport making its debut on the international stage, like at the Olympics.

However, his connection with local politics that erupted in a scandal damaged the organization. Kimwas criticized for having allegedly exploited the world taekwondo headquarters for his own sake and thus marring the name of the sport.

The organization sought transformation from a juridical foundation to a specially governed one as of May 26 this year.

The separated taekwondo organizations have largely been at odds, bringing confusion to ordinary practitioners. But they have recently begun showing signs of reconciliation.

For instance, Kang and WTF President Choue Chung-won made reconciliatory moves on many occasions. Choue proposed on May the creation of the so-called “Sports Peace Corps,” with the world organizations such as the United Nations (U.N.) and the IOC to achieve peace and harmony around the world, in a U.N.-IOC forum held in LausanneSwitzerland.

Choue’s suggestion is based on the idea that sports can be effective tools in bringing people together, which was proved with the successful launching of the WTF Taekwondo Peace Corps. The program initiated in 2008 and brought a positive response from youths around the world by providing chances to learn the spirit of the sport.

Kang has a similar vision in that taekwondo is a useful tool to promote world peace.

The corps is endeavoring to implement comprehensive sport-related assistance in many areas including underdeveloped countries. The organization is focusing on offering assistance including equipment, skills and training for local athletes and coaches for any Olympic sport in needy countries to lead them to eventually lean toward Korea.

As of 2009, a total of 207 members of the Taekwondo Peace Corps were sent to 35 countries to teach the culture and virtues of taekwondo, each team comprising of four college athletes of the sport, three taekwondo masters, and an interpreter.

Toward that end, Kukkiwon and the WTF are maintaining close relations under the win-win principle while shedding the still lingering legacies of internal feuds.

Kang is also eager to improve relations with the KTA in order to help nourish taekwondo in a concerted effort. The organization also introduced a working program on Sept. 16 to attract the local teens and adults.

“Many taekwondo practitioners learn the sport when they are children but they give up as they grow older unless they want be professional athletes.”

“The teamwork between Kukkiwon and the KTA would help prompt adults to have further interest in the martial art and promote communications with people around the world,” Kang said.

Kang’s fresh challenge has only just begun and success will depend on collaboration with the other organizations.

Doug Nowling, Director General
Nowling sahyun has been a long time student of the martial arts and a history major and has been published and continues to promote all martial arts via the Kido Kwan blogs.
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2010 Black Belt Camp/Instructors Seminar and USA Team tryouts

Black Belt and Instructors Camp
OCTOBER 1-2, 2010

USA Team Tryouts October 2, 2010

Korea 2012 Trip Meeting

Little Rock, Arkansas

Doug Nowling, Director General
Nowling sahyun has been a long time student of the martial arts and a history major and has been published and continues to promote all martial arts via the Kido Kwan blogs.
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