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Rare early Joseon texts found in temple

November 25, 2013

By Kim Tong-hyung

About 200 texts dating back to the late Goryeo Kingdom and early Joseon Kingdom periods were found at the Gwangheung Temple in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province. / Yonhap

About 200 texts dating back to the late Goryeo Kingdom and early Joseon Kingdom periods were found at the Gwangheung Temple in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province. (Yonhap)

Historians are hailing as remarkable the discovery of a slew of medieval texts inside a Buddha statue at a temple in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province.

About 200 different documents were found and they included a number of exceptionally rare works from the early Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910) period which experts hope will provide important information on earlier forms of the Korean script, Hangeul.

Several materials from the late Goryeo Kingdom (918-1392) period also appeared worthy of being designated as national treasures, according to Im No-jik, a researcher at the Korean Studies Advancement Center.

Gwangheung Temple, where the statue was made and kept, is also known as where one of the original copies of “Hunminjeongeum Haerye” — a commentary on the “Hunminjeongeum” — the original promulgation of Hangeul, had been kept before it went missing in the modern era.

“It is believed that the newly discovered texts were published between the two centuries between the late Goryeo period and before the start of the Japanese invasion of 1592. They will offer an important opportunity in researching the wood-block printing techniques and styles of those times,” said Im.

“The early Joseon texts, which include ‘Yeongga Seonjong’ and other commentary on Buddhist scriptures, will provide critical clues in tracing back the evolutionary process of Hangeul. It’s presumed that these documents were published shortly after Hunminjeongeum was first promulgated.”

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