Cultural heritage agency revamped with fresh identity

Choi Eung-chon, chief of the Cultural Heritage Administration, which will be reborn as the Korea Heritage Serivce on Friday, poses prior to an interview with The Korea Times at the National Palace Museum of Korea in central Seoul, May 7. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

Since its founding in 1999, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) has been the state-run gatekeeper and guardian of Korea’s cultural treasures.However, in the eyes of CHA chief Choi Eung-chon, who celebrated the second anniversary of his post this week, the agency has, over the years, come to be perceived as inflexibly bureaucratic and regulatory in its approach to historical heritage in the name of conservation.That’s all about to change on May 17 as the organization faces the biggest turning point in its two-decade history, marked by the sweeping overhaul of its policies to measure up to its new name — the Korea Heritage Service (KHS).

“The launch of the KHS signals a reorientation of our policy focus from mere preservation of the past to embracing heritage as a living, sustainable asset with which people of today can actually engage,” Choi, a veteran player in the field with prior roles at the National Museum of Korea and the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation, said in an interview with The Korea Times, May 7.“Our aim is to streamline regulations previously tangled in red tape so that the assets can coexist with development efforts without being put at risk of damage.”The state agency’s unprecedented overhaul follows the enactment of the new Framework Act on National Heritage last year. The legislation aims to restructure the existing Cultural Heritage Protection Act, which has remained a largely unchanged cornerstone of Korea’s cultural preservation efforts since its establishment in 1962.The most prominent change involves abandoning the decades-old classification system of “cultural heritage” — which, in Korean, was referred to as “cultural property” and thus disproportionately 스포츠토토존 emphasized its value as “material goods,” according to Choi.

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