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Museums and cultural heritage: to examine the loss of cultural heritage during colonial and military occupations with special reference to the Japanese occupation of Korea, and the possibilities for return and restitution

Kim, J (2018). Museums and cultural heritage: to examine the loss of cultural heritage during colonial and military occupations with special reference to the Japanese occupation of Korea, and the possibilities for return and restitution. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine the loss of Korean cultural heritage during the Japanese colonial and military occupation between 1910 and 1945, and the possibilities for its return and restitution.To examine the historical background and the reasons for Japan’s particular interest in Korean cultural objects during the 20th century, the thesis first outlines the earlier Japanese plunder of Korean cultural heritage during the Imjin War (1592-1598). The Japanese colonial occupation of Korea began in 1910; however, the removal of Korean cultural property to Japan began earlier, in around 1905, when Japan had secured its political and military power after victories in the Sino-Japanese (1894- 1895) and Russo-Japanese (1904-1905) Wars. Therefore, this thesis considers Japan’s institutionalised ‘investigations’ of Korean cultural heritage and assets from the late 19th century until 1945. These activities were associated with the removal of Korean cultural property including artefacts, works of art, treasures, books, libraries and archives to Japan and also with cases of destruction of Korean cultural heritage. The thesis then introduces Korea’s claims for the return of cultural property after its restoration of independence in 1945. The process whereby the Government of the Republic of Korea and the Government of Japan re-established their diplomatic relations in 1965 is highlighted. Following the Agreement attached to the 1965 Treaty between Korea and Japan, Japan returned some Korean cultural objects, but not enough to match the original request from Korea. The thesis also discusses whether the 1910 Treaty of Annexation of Korea was legally valid or not. This argument is important, because Japan maintains that its annexation of Korea was done legally, and that consequently the removal of Korean cultural property during its occupation of Korea was lawful. In order to test this question, this research first examines the lawfulness of the preceding 1905 Agreement, which deprived Korea’s diplomatic rights, given that the 1910 Treaty was a consecutive convention that depended on the 1905 Agreement. Case studies are presented that offer examples of the return of Korean cultural objects from Japan between 1965 and the present time. This study uses a methodology of re-examining and re-testing each historical event that has a high significance for this subject. Importantly, the author has researched relevant archival and historical resources that support the study and have not been examined in other previous research. Theoretical principles in cultural heritage are also reviewed in the course of this study. As the discovery of Korean cultural objects in Japanese museums, libraries, universities, and private collections continues and even increases, the conclusion of this thesis emphasises the necessity for further research into concrete resolutions.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences
School of Arts & Social Sciences > Cultural Policy & Management
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/20813
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