London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Korean heritage at UNESCO

unescoKorea is rightly proud of some of its heritage, much of which has been given official recognition by UNESCO. For those of you who like lists, here are the various items of Korea’s tangible and intangible heritage which have been so listed. Also included below are links to any LKL articles on these treasures.

(1) World Heritage

First, possibly the most high-profile list, mainly because it’s a list of things that you can tick off on your trips around Korea.

Year Cultural heritage item LKL links
1995 Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple (ROK) Here
1995 Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks (ROK) Here
1995 Jongmyo Shrine (ROK) Here
1997 Changdeokgung Palace Complex (ROK) Here
1997 Hwaseong Fortress (ROK) Here
2000 Gyeongju Historic Areas (ROK) Here
2000 Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen Sites (ROK) Here
2004 Complex of Koguryo Tombs (DPRK) N/a
2009 Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty (ROK) Here
2010 Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong (ROK) N/a
2013 Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong (DPRK) Here
2014 Namhansanseong Fortress (ROK) Here
2018 Baekje Historic Areas (ROK) Here
2015 Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea (ROK) N/a
2019 Seowon, Korean Neo-Confucian Academies (ROK) N/a

In addition, there are two items of Natural heritage which gets listed:

Year Natural heritage item LKL Link
2007 Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes (ROK) N/a
2021 Getbol, Korean Tidal Flats (ROK) N/a

(2) Intangible Cultural Heritage

Next, the Intangible Cultural Heritage items. But what is Intangible Cultural Heritage? This, from the UNESCO site:

According to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the intangible cultural heritage – or living heritage – is the mainspring of our cultural diversity and its maintenance a guarantee for continuing creativity.

The Convention states that the ICH is manifested, among others, in the following domains:

  • Oral traditions and expressions including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;
  • Performing arts (such as traditional music, dance and theatre);
  • Social practices, rituals and festive events;
  • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
  • Traditional craftsmanship.

The following items of Korea’s heritage are listed:

Year Cultural heritage item LKL Link
2001 Royal Ancestral Ritual in the Jongmyo Shrine and its Music (ROK) Here
2003 Pansori Epic Chant (ROK) Here
2005 Gangneung Danoje Festival (ROK) Here
2009 Namsadang Nori (ROK) N/a
2009 Yeongsanjae (ROK) Here
2009 Jeju Chilmeoridang Yeongdeunggut (ROK) N/a
2009 Ganggangsullae (ROK) N/a
2009 Cheoyongmu (ROK) N/a
2010 Daemokjang, traditional wooden architecture (ROK) N/a
2010 Gagok, lyric song cycles accompanied by an orchestra (ROK) N/a
2010 Taekkyeon, a traditional Korean martial art (ROK) Here
2011 Jultagi, tightrope walking (ROK) Here
2011 Weaving of Mosi (fine ramie) in the Hansan region (ROK) Here
2012 Arirang, lyrical folk song in the Republic of Korea (ROK) Here
2013 Kimjang, making and sharing kimchi in the Republic of Korea (ROK) Here
2014 Nongak, community band music, dance and rituals in the Republic of Korea (ROK) N/a
2014 Arirang folk song in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Here
2015 Tradition of kimchi-making in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Here
2015 Tugging rituals and games (ROK) N/a
2015 Falconry (Maesanyang), a living human heritage (ROK) Here
2016 Culture of Jeju Haenyeo (women divers) (ROK) Here
2018 Traditional Korean wrestling (Ssirum/Ssireum) (ROK + DPRK) N/a
2020 Yeondeunghoe, lantern lighting festival in the Republic of Korea (ROK) N/a


(3) Memory of the World

UNESCO’s programme aiming at preservation and dissemination of valuable archive holdings and library collections worldwide

Year Cultural heritage item LKL Link
1997 The Hunminjeongeum Manuscript Here
1997 The Annals of the Choson Dynasty Here
2001 Seungjeongwon Ilgi, the Diaries of the Royal Secretariat Here
2001 Baegun hwasang chorok buljo jikji simche yojeol (vol.II), the second volume of “Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests’ Zen Teachings” (the jikji) Here
2007 Uigwe: The Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty Here
2007 Printing woodblocks of the Tripitaka Koreana and miscellaneous Buddhist scriptures Here
2009 Donguibogam: Principles and Practice of Eastern Medicine Here
2011 Human Rights Documentary Heritage 1980 Archives for the May 18th Democratic Uprising against Military Regime, in Gwangju, Republic of Korea N/a
2011 Ilseongnok: Records of Daily Reflections N/a
2013 Archives of Saemaul Undong (New Community Movement) N/a
2013 Nanjung Ilgi: War Diary of Admiral Yi Sun-sin N/a
2015 Confucian Printing Woodblocks N/a
2015 The Archives of the KBS Special Live Broadcast “Finding Dispersed Families” N/a
2017 Archives of the National Debt Redemption Movement N/a
2017 Royal Seal and Investiture Book Collection of the Joseon Dynasty N/a

(4) Biosphere Reserves

Possibly a less familiar list. According to the UNESCO website,

Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. They are places that provide local solutions to global challenges. Biosphere reserves include terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each site promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.

From the DPRK, the following sites are listed:

And from the ROK:

(5) Tentative list

Finally, a list of those properties which each Korea intends to consider for nomination to the World Heritage list in the future

From the ROK:

And from the DPRK:


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