Voluntary Agency Network of Korea, VANK is distributing a digital poster that requests France, in which they keep Jikji, to lend or return Jikji to Korea. From 2006, VANK has been working on Jikji Globalization campaign that introduces the world about Jikji. Even though Jikji is a Korean documentary heritage that was listed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, it is not in Korea, but in France.
Jikji was printed in 1377 at Heungdeoksa Temple in Cheongju, Korea during the Goryeo dynasty (918~1392), and is the world’s oldest existing book printed with movable metal type, and it was listed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register on September 4th, 2001. However, even though Jikji, the representative documentary heritage of Korea, must be in Korea where it was first printed, it is in France because it is not a “plundered heritage” but a “purchased heritage”, and Koreans are also not actively demanding the issue of returning Jikji.
The problem is that even France has not returned Jikji to Korea under the pretext of a “purchased heritage”, the French government is not also treating Jikji properly.
Jikji is hidden and stored in the National Library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF), and the library does not give it the honor of a national treasure of Korea, such as properly displaying and promoting it to the world. VANK believes that if the French government would not return Jikji to Korea, they need to properly promote Jikji to people in France and around the world. If the French government do not even intend to do that, we believe that it is right to return Jikji to Korea in a form of lending like the royal books “Oegyujanggak books” when considering the world historic value of Jikji printed with movable metal type technology, a world historical invention that changed human history.
Jikji, created in the Goryeo Dynasty in Korea, was brought to France by French diplomat Victor Collin de Plancy at the end of the 19th century, and was later sold to a collector and was donated to the BnF. Currently, the BnF does not allow Jikji to be exhibited anywhere in the world, and Jikji is kept in its storage without being exhibited at the BnF.
We want to properly study the value of Jikji, a UNESCO Memory of the World, and as a future generation, we want to learn and engage in creative activities. Furthermore, in consideration of the emotional attachment that Koreans have to the record of Jikji and the fact that Jikji contributes to the formation of the identity of the Korean community, we believe that it is necessary to keep and properly study it in Korea.
Therefore, we VANK created and is distributing this digital poster to form global public opinion so that France could return or lend JIkji to Korea.
On this digital poster created by VANK introduces a Global petition and shows that Jikji represents Republic of Korea and also emphasizes that Jikji is a valuable historical heritage that reflects Korea’s long history.