Old war diary, 'Saemaul' archives make UNESCO Memory of the World list

SEOUL, June 19 (Yonhap) -- A 16th-century war diary kept by famous Korean naval hero Yi Sun-sin and archives of South Korea's Saemaul (New Community) Movement in the 1970s have been added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register, officials said Wednesday.

The designation brings the total number of South Korea's heritage items on the UNESCO list to 11. The list also recognizes the importance of "Hunminjeongeum," the original manuscript of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet.

The war diary, called "Nanjung Ilgi," and "The Archives of Samaul Undong" received recommendation for addition to the list by the International Advisory Committee (IAC) of the UNESCO Memory of the World, South Korea's Cultural Heritage Administration said.

The decision was made during the 11th session of the IAC that opened in Gwangju, a southwestern South Korean city, on Tuesday and was approved by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

The Memory of the World program, established in 1992, seeks to protect and record the world's valuable documents and widen public access to them through the Internet.

The IAC is a committee of experts that pre-examines nominations for the Memory of the World list. The opinion reached at its biennial session has a decisive influence on UNESCO's final choice of nominations.

"Nanjung Ilgi," the country's national treasure No. 76, is Yi's personal diary who wrote it during the Japanese invasion of Korea, known as the Imjin War (1592-1598).

"The diary is without equal in world history as a commander's battlefield accounts. Written as a personal journal, it describes in detail the daily combat situations, the admiral's personal views and feelings, observations on the weather, topographical features of battlefields and the lives of common people," the IAC said.

Launched in 1970 by incumbent president Park Geun-hye's father, then President Park Chung-hee, the government-led movement, which translates as the "new community movement," is credited with helping to modernize the then rural South Korean economy.

The movement became the cornerstone of South Korea's rapid growth from a poor country to one of the world's economic powers and such an experience is a precious asset to the history of mankind, the committee said.

The archives include presidential speeches, government papers, village documents, letters, manuals, photographs and video clips related to the movement.

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