Two Joseon Era Stone Statues to Be Repatriated to Korea

Imperial Family of Korea

Two stone statues made some time during the Joseon Dynasty are being returned to the country in which they were made. Joseon artifacts have been plundered from the Korean peninsula for centuries – and finally some are returning home. Most recently, The Museum am Rothenbaum in Hamburg, Germany has agreed to return two stone statues that were sculpted centuries ago in Joseon because they were illegally removed from Korea. The Museum’s director, Barbara Plankensteiner, was instrumental to the repatriation of these statues and received thanks from the Overseas Cultural Heritage Foundation, which secured the return. The statues will be returned on March 19th, 2019.

Many Joseon artifacts still need to be repatriated


The Museum am Rothenbaum has over 2,700 Joseon era artifacts still in their possession. Many other museums, particularly in Europe, also hold Joseon artifacts. The National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage of Korea has completed several site surveys of Korean artifacts held in non Korean museums around the world during the years 2014 through 2016. During this process, they identified many Joseon era artifacts that needed to be repatriated. The OCHF officially started petitioning for the repatriation of these artifacts in 2017. Working with the OCHF, the museum confirmed that the statues were not properly removed from Korea and therefore must be returned. Two years later, these two Joseon stone statues are finally returning to their country of origin. There are more out there, though, and the rate of Joseon artifact repatriation is increasing. An OCHF official told The Korea Herald:

“The recent return of the cultural heritage also appears to be in line with the growing awareness in European countries about repatriation of cultural heritage rooted in the colonial period.”

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