SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Korea Bizwire) — In 2000, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) bought a royal Korean seal made in the 16th century from a private collector.
Some seven years later, the existence of the historic artifact belonging to Queen Munjeong of Korea’s last dynasty of Joseon (1392-1910) became known to Korea when the country’s National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage studied Korean artifacts possessed by the U.S. museum.
The ensuing joint investigation between the relevant agencies of the two countries, starting in 2013, finally brought the cultural asset to its rightful home last month.
The “Golden Royal Seal for the Bestowal of Honoric Title upon Queen Munjeong,” created in 1547 and reproduced in 1554 after it was burnt the previous year, is among the 12 retrieved royal seals that will be exhibited at the National Palace Museum of Korea from Aug. 18 to Oct. 29.
The seal is assumed to have been looted from the Jongmyo Shrine in central Seoul during the 1950-1953 Korean War and smuggled out to the U.S. at an unknown time, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) said.
It was one of the two royal seals to be transferred back home via the presidential plane of President Moon Jae-in, who was returning to Korea after his first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Among the displayed is the “Golden Royal Seal for the Bestowal of Posthumous Title upon King Deokjong” created in 1471 and handed back to Korea in 2015.
The seal has been kept in the Seattle Art Museum since 1963, a year after an American art collector purchased it in New York and donated it to the museum. At the time of the restitution, the CHA said the seal was original. But it was later revealed that it was reproduced in 1924 after it went missing during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945).
The CHA said there are still more royal seals that haven’t been lucky enough to come home than those successfully having been retrieved. Consistent attention and support are needed to continue recovering pillaged historical relics, it added.