US returns looted royal seals to S. Korea

Queen Munjeong's seal (above) and another seal made during King Hyojong's reign were stolen during the Korean War.
Queen Munjeong's seal (above) and another seal made during King Hyojong's reign were stolen during the Korean War.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SEOUL • South Korean President Moon Jae In is returning from an official visit to Washington with two ancient royal seals looted during the Korean War, reports said yesterday.

The repatriation of the Chosun dynasty antiques, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, comes after years of campaigning by the Seoul government, which said they were stolen during the 1950-53 war.

Mr Moon received the seals in a ceremony during his US visit last Friday. He is due to arrive home in South Korea today, Yonhap news agency said.

The Chosun dynasty, which cultivated a ruling philosophy drawn from Confucianism, governed from 1392 to 1910, when Japan colonised the country.

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One of the seals was made in 1547 to honour Queen Munjeong (1501-1565), the third wife of Chosun Dynasty's 11th king, Jungjong.

The other is a jade block created in 1651 to commemorate the installation of Hyeonjong as the crown prince of King Hyojong.

They were seized by the US authorities in 2013 after Seoul clarified that they were stolen items. Tens of thousands of Korean cultural items were spirited abroad during Japan's colonisation of Korea, and the Korean War.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 02, 2017, with the headline 'US returns looted royal seals to S. Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe