My complaint was about specifically that: that Seoul seems overrepresented, all the while Northern Korea (for political reasons) is not. I can see plenty of Korean WHS. I just have a hard time to make Seoul the city with the most WHS globally.
All fair points and I get what your saying. Seoul (for better or worse)
does dominate South Korea, even when they've tried to shift the administrative capital to Sejong City. One of my favorite areas of the country is Jeollanam-do and I am interested to see if North Korea is successful with their 2022 nomination of Mt. Kumgang.
Hwaseong should be counted too
I can understand that you would include Namhansanseong as part of the Seoul WHS, because its purpose is the defense of the capital (also place of refuge for the King)
. However, Hwaseong is located in Suwon (a separate city of 1.25 million)
and it was purposefully built away from Seoul as part of a new city.
For Korea, the sites are primarily documenting the Korean culture. Which is a valid source of OUV. But it implies a smaller pool of sites
than e.g. countries, that can also claim to have been globally / regionally influential beyond their own orders.
The only minor issue I have with this, though I agree with you to some degree. This line of thinking will almost always favor cultural sites in the West (& somewhat Japan)
. Especially if we are taking into account the global impact of Colonialism and Industrialization. How many stunning theaters, government/finance buildings, palaces, cathedrals, and early industrial sites in Europe were funded by resources gained through Colonialism (including what was done to China or even Korea in Japan's case)
? So do these countries deserve more world heritage sites and recognition? Based on size and influence its inevitable if pursued (at least in certain types of cultural sites)
. Yet, for me personally, I do not value the Joseon Royal Tombs
any less or more than the Imperial Tombs in China or the mausoleum of the Danish royal family found at Roskilde Cathedral. It's not surprising that Korea has no Industrial sites, but plenty of inscriptions related to Confucianism and Buddhism.Rambling thoughts about History
Why does S. Korea have nearly as many Confucian cultural sites inscribed as China, despite being almost 100x smaller in land mass and about 30x smaller in population? It's not because its only
documentaring Korean culture, it is also based on the fact that they represent an exchange of ideas between Joseon Korea and Ming China. Moreover, Korea did not go through as dramatic a reckoning with their Confucian past as China did during the 20th century (therefore preservation is quite high)
. The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea has expressed openness to transnational nominations connected to Confucianism, but so far China has not reciprocated interest (at least not publically)
. Regarding Korea's Buddhist heritage, Silla and Baekje monks were travelling to China mostly starting in the 6th and 7th centuries to introduce Buddhist scriptures back home and even a famous trip to India by Hyecho occured in the 8th century. When Buddhism spread to Japan through Korea, this might be considered "influential beyond their own orders". Korea has been very successful inscribing Confucian and Buddhist related properties with mostly positive ICOMOS recommendations. The Yangju Hoeamsa Temple Site (Goryeo origin/Indian influence)
, which is an archaeological ruin, burnt down sometime in the mid-16th century. Of Korea's two TWHS related to Buddhism, I am not sure what would have a better chance with ICOMOS Stone Buddhas and Pagodas at Hwasun Unjusa Temple
or Yangju Hoeamsa Temple Site
. The later has no connection to the establishment of Seoul as the capital (despite its proximity)
, the temple did however have some patronage from some of the early Joseon royals. Unjusa in many ways remains an anomaly. I hope to visit both, Unjusa (based on the reviews alone)
seems like the more rewarding site for visitors.
I think this is such an interesting conversation, it's been fun to explore your perspective (nfmungard)