Do you know what Korea’s National Treasure No.11 is?
It is the ‘The Mireuk Temple Site Stone Pagoda’, which recently completed its restoration. This is the largest and oldest stone pagoda in Korea and it is listed as a world heritage. Many people are looking forward to see this heritage artifact directly. People are curious about the original shape of this stone pagoda and want to know how modern technology has been able to restore cultural assets too. However, there are problems related to cultural asset restoration processes. A big problem is determining whether cultural assets, which were restored using modern technology and materials have cultural value.
Today, as the border between countries are broken, more and more fields are being globalized.
Many countries work to preserve and develop their own culture and traditions in the international community. For these reasons, the Korean government is expanding the scope of restoration of cultural assets and the number of attempts to restore cultural asset is increasing. The civic awareness about cultural properties is growing as well. Now, many people are paying attention to cultural asset restoration.
Cultural assets must be restored using natural materials such as mud, lime and water according to the regulations of the Korea Cultural Heritage Administration (KCHA). In spite of these regulations, people have mixed cement in restoration for reducing the cost. Some cultural assets that had been restored by use of cement and modern machines have flaws like cracks or breaks after the restoration. This is because the past and modern materials didn’t mix properly. The restoration process was only carried out in a short time without a proper understanding of the cultural assets.
In contrast, Italy works endlessly in effort to preserve and restore their heritage. Italy’s National School of Restoration has been preserving and restoring various art and cultural assets for many years. They provide detailed curriculum for students and have a practical training course about using real art and cultural assets. The school creates teams that work together to learn about restoration. One professor and five students consist of one team. They study together about tools, solutions, techniques used in the restoration.
The professor not only teaches, but also studies with the students. When studying better restoration methods, people need to share their thoughts. Above all, professors at Italy’s National School of Restoration clearly guide students on why cultural assets should be restored and how to understand the philosophy and history of the era in which they were created.
Japan makes an effort to restore too. Most of the restoration process is open to the public, and the cost of restoring cultural assets is covered by donations. Japan is striving to restore their cultural assets with the same techniques that were used in the past, and are constantly checking the status of cultural assets after the restoration.
Like Italy and Japan, Korea also needs a systemic institution to educate how to properly preserve and restore old artifacts. It is imperative to create a professional organization to restore and preserve cultural assets. Then we must train experts in each field and create a systematic researching course.
We also need patience with the restoration of cultural assets. It is very difficult to understand the past and restore cultural assets in a short time. Therefore, even if it takes a long time, we should foster craftsmen who can properly understand and restore cultural assets, and recognize and appreciate their hard work and patience.
Cultural assets, created over hundreds to thousands of years, are historical evidence which prove not only the history and culture, but also the ethics and philosophy of the past. Therefore, in a Korean society where hurry up is important, we need some degree of slowness and patience to preserve and restore our cultural assets.