A total of 107,857 Korean cultural properties are scattered throughout 18 countries, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration. Japan has the largest number at 61,000, which takes up 60 percent of the whole amount, followed by the United States with 27,000 and China with 3,000. The government and civil groups are building up their efforts to retrieve the lost treasures. Some are already heading home due to the efforts of a handful of individuals spending their own money.
Hakgojae Gallery has collected Joseon paintings through overseas auctions and from Japanese individual collectors over the last 10 years. The gallery is displaying 30 such pieces in the exhibition “Return Home After 500 Years” through April 25. Most of the artifacts are being shown for the first time in Korea. According to the gallery, Japan regarded Korea as a window to China and so the Joseon paintings were preferred by the Japanese connoisseurs at that time. Most of the Joseon artworks remaining in Japan vary from prehistoric works to modern masterpieces as Korea was a midway point between China and Japan. The gallery said that Japan absorbed the cultural elements from Korea and melded them into their own. Through this exhibition, the gallery is helpful in the Joseon painting study which is insufficiency of the existing information. It’s time to reflect on these days by cultural exchange of the old man.