By Lee Jong-hwan
Seoul, June 28 (World Korean News)= Would it be desirable to retrieve all our cultural assets overseas and bring them back to Korea? This question crossed my mind when I visited Old Summer Palace (Ruins of Yuanmingyuan) in Beijing, China.
It was on March 16 that I visited there. Old Summer Palace is like Deoksugung Palace in Korea. It was a royal palace where a large number of Western-style buildings such as Geunjeongjeon were built. However, it was destroyed by the British and French Allies in 1860 and turned into ruins. China preserves the ruins and makes them a living educational center to promote a sense of independence.
Perhaps because it was Sunday, Old Summer Palace was crowded with tourists. Forsythia, which means a flower in spring, is also in full bloom. The willows hanging down the lake were also showing a clear light green color, because they sprouted.
The first thing that our group talked about was the bronze 12-point statues of Old Summer Palace. They were looted from Old Summer Palace in 1860. Recently, it was sold at an auction in Paris, France, for 20 billion won each, drawing attention. The Chinese government demanded that bronze statues of rat and rabbit heads be returned, calling them loot. But France refused. Later, when China purchased 60 Airbus aircrafts from France, France returned them.
"A large number of Egyptian artifacts are on display at the British Museum in London, England. It's been looted, but it's a great reminder of the greatness of Egyptian civilization. Would it be desirable to return them to Egypt?"
Along with these questions, we talked about the issue of returning cultural assets.
Then, the topic turned into a "hero theory." It was time for the coalition forces of eight countries, including Britain and France, to walk through the ruins of the "Western Pavilion." Dr. Lee Dong-chul, who teaches Korean at the University of Hubei Province in China, introduced the hero debate in the book "HuHeukhak(厚黑學)."
This book was once banned in China. This book introduced the results of searching through one book or another to find out what a hero is like in the world. The author introduced that "The Three Kingdoms of China" is the best among the books dealing with heroes, and that Liu Bei and Cao Cao in the book are representative heroes. At the same time, he wrote, "There is no one as shameless as Liu Bei , and no one as wicked as Cao Cao." Since ancient times, heroes have been satirized as thick-faced and dark-hearted people.
Dr. Lee Dong-cheol, a graduate of the People's University of China, said he translated the book "HuHeukhak," but has not yet published it.
After leaving Wonmyeongwon, we went through the Central and South Sea and climbed Jingshan Park overlooking Forbidden City. Located in the north of Forbidden City, the top pavilion of Jingshan Park is also famous for the death of the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty who lost his country and hung himself. This place also had no place to set foot with tourists.
We took a picture with the Forbidden City in the background at Jingshan Park and went to the Liulichang Street, the last destination. The street are filled with items that scholars in the past have been looking for, such as books and brushs, inks, inkstones. Even now, there are many shops selling stationery, paintings, and books.
Just in time, there was a book in the bookstore that copied the monument to King Gwanggaeto, so I bought some brushes with this book as a gift.
** (This translation was sponsored by Dokko Youngsik, the president of the Midwest Korean American Association.)