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UNESCO Designations of Korea's Cultural Properties in 2010 Updated: 2010-12-21 00:00:00 KST

Welcome back.
The UNESCO World Heritage Sites are known as some of the most spectacular places in the world.
The list currently holds over 900 locations across the globe recognizing the sites for their cultural or physical value.

This year, two of Korea's traditional villages and three of the country's cultural properties received recognition by the international organization.
Our Hwang Sung-hee from Arirang's news bureau joins us in the studio to tell us more.
Hello, Sung-hee.

[Reporter : ] Hello guys.
The year 2010 was a notable year for Korea, if you look at how many of its sites and cultural properties have gained international recognition.
The most remarkable accomplishments out of the five new nominations are enlisting Hahoe Village and Yangdong Village on UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites.
This list is one of the three lists maintained by the international organization, and gives recognition to places that carry special cultural or physical value.
Having the two historic villages added on to the list not only signifies their cultural value, but has also helped introduce the sites to foreign visitors.
Let's take a look.

In 2010 the public's interest in UNESCO registrations spiked in Korea with five of the country's cultural properties being recognized by the international organization.

UNESCO maintains three lists--the World Heritage Sites List which keeps track of places that has a special cultural or physical significance the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list… which has been recording intangible cultures like music and dances since 2001 and the Memory of the World list which began in 1992 to preserve precious archival holdings.

In order to be enlisted on one of these three lists the cultural property must meet one of the ten criteria of what UNESCO calls the Outstanding Universal Value.

[Interview : Jihon Kim, Assistant Programme Specialist
Korean National Commission for UNESCO] "The most important criterion in nominating a cultural asset is whether or not it holds an Outstanding Universal Value. We look at how well the value is displayed in the property, how well the property has been preserved and its appeal to the international community."

The longest list is the World Heritage List enlisting 911 sites from 151 countries.
So far, Italy with the ancient city of Pompeii being its most famous UNESCO World Heritage site is on top of the list with 45 nominations while Korea ranks 22nd with ten registered sites.

The Seokguram Grotto and the Bulguksa Temple added to the World Heritage List in 1995 were one of the first sites in Korea to be designated/recognized by UNESCO.
Korea currently has ten World Heritage sites, 11 Intangible Cultural Heritage assets and seven Memory of the World records.

In August of this year, Hahoe Village in Andong and Yangdong Village in Gyeongju, both in North Gyeongsang Province were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List under the category of "Historic Villages in Korea" for reflecting "the distinctive aristocratic Confucian culture and architectural style" of the times.
These villages are a valuable part of Korean culture because they preserve Joseon period-style architecture, folk traditions and historical records.
And only three months after Gagok a genre of Korean vocal music also known as the world's slowest music as well as Daemokjang Korean traditional wooden architecture and Falconry the traditional hunting method using trained falcons took their place in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

While UNESCO lists are intended for the preservation of valuable cultural properties they also help the tourism industry of member nations.
When most tourists in Korea prefer to stay in the Metropolitan area during their visit having historic villages and cultural assets recognized by UNESCO is a good way to promote other parts of the country.

[Interview : Kim Dong-il, Tourism Product Planning Team Director
Korea Tourism Organization] "The biggest problem about the tourism industry in Korea is that tourists tend to only come to Seoul. However, with UNESCO designating cultural properties in diverse parts of the country, it is guiding the tourists to various regions of the country and also inviting them to stay in Korea for a longer period of time."

Following their designations in summer the number of tourists in both Hahoe Village and Yangdong Village nearly doubled.
In fact, Hahoe Village saw over one million visitors so far this year which is the first time for the village to surpass the one-million mark since Queen Elizabeth's visit in 1999.

And more of Korea's cultural properties are in line waiting to be designated by UNESCO.
Ten properties such as Namhansanseong and the Gongju and Buyeo Historic Sites are enlisted on the UNESCO Tentative List.
In order to be considered for nomination as a World Heritage site a property must be on the Tentative List for at least one year.
And local governments in Korea are actively working towards their nominations with Gyeonggi Province proposing a three-step business plan in October to add Namhansanseong on the World Heritage List by 2014 and South Chungcheong Province saying it will have Gongju and Buyeo designated as World Heritage sites by 2013.
The country will definitely welcome having more of its cultural properties nominated by UNESCO as such distinction will definitely help Korea with introducing its culture, tradition and history.

[Interview : Jihon Kim, Assistant Programme Specialist
Korean National Commission for UNESCO] "With more of Korea's historical sites being added on to UNESCO's World Heritage Sites List, we believe it will be an opportunity to share the variety of Korea's beautiful cultural assets with foreign visitors."

I didn't know that so many places in Korea were preparing for UNESCO nominations.
I've been to Buyeo myself, and it is a very beautiful place.

[Reporter : ] Yes, I've also been to Buyeo and Gongju as well.
They both portray the Korean history very well, and it would be nice to have the two places designated as World Heritage sites.

If we were interested in visiting UNESCO-designated sites in Korea, where do you recommend that we start off[Reporter : ] I'd say the Seokgulam grotto and Bulguksa Temple, since they were one of the first sites to be nominated.
However, if you are looking for somewhere within the Metropolitan area, Changdeok Palace is also worth a visit.

Well, thank you for coming in today.

[Reporter : ] My pleasure.
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