Exhibit to display rare traditional Korean music instruments from France
Traditional Korean musical instruments that came back from France last week after 112 years in that country are on display in a special exhibition at a national museum here.
The 11 musical instruments, rented from France's national Music Museum, were transported aboard a Korean airplane a week ago for a two-month exhibition at the Museum of Gugak in southern Seoul.
The museum, an affiliate of the National Gugak Center that preserves and promotes gugak, or traditional Korean music, opened the "Gugak in Paris, 1990" exhibit Tuesday to mark its reopening after one year of remodeling work.
The eleven were part of 16 Korean musical instruments that were presented by Korea to the Paris International Exposition in 1900, along with household items used at the royal court, ceramic ware and seeds, according to museum officials.
King Gojong, the 26th king of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) and the first emperor of the Korean Empire, sent the select exhibits with a Korean government delegation led by Min Yeong-chan, a high-level official and apparently a relative of Empress Myeongseong, to the expo in order to increase the world's awareness of the Korean Empire.
The exhibits did not return to their homeland because Korea could not afford to bring them back so donated them to France.
The musical instruments went into the possession of France's Music Museum and were lost from the memories of Koreans for more than a century.
The presence of the instruments was made known to modern-day Koreans in 2005 when a local daily carried an article about them, with help from Dr. Phillippe Brugurie of the French museum.
The instruments will be returned to France after being exhibited for two months in Seoul, according to the Museum of Gugak.
During the exhibition, the musical instruments will be displayed alongside photos and videos of the Korean pavilion that housed the country's exhibits during the 1900 expo.
The videos from France's National Audiovisual Institute and a French archive are the first such to be shown in South Korea, the museum said.
Museum officials said the musical instruments would be useful materials for the study of old Korean music and musical instruments as they have been well preserved by experts in France.
Lee Dong-bok, director general of the museum, said the musical instruments must be some of the best of the times because they were carefully chosen by the king himself.
"I hope you can feel the lively atmosphere of that time from this two-month-long exhibition," Lee said during a meeting with reporters on Monday. (Yonhap)