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S. Korea to host int'l forum during World Heritage Committee meeting in Cambodia


By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, June 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will host an international forum during the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) that is currently underway in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, officials said Tuesday.

The forum scheduled for Wednesday will explore new official development assistance approaches to world heritage conservation, Seoul's Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) said.

It will be part of the 37th session of the WHC that opened Sunday for a 12-day run. South Korea sent a delegation led by Byun Young-sup, head of the CHA, to the session.

The WHC is a committee under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which selects the sites to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from country members.

Seoul has attended most of the committee sessions as one of the 190 signatories of the convention.

The committee is set to elect new state parties during its General Assembly in November when 12 out of the 21 existing state parties' six-year term in office expires. South Korea is one of the countries aspiring to become a new member.

Officials expect Seoul's hosting of the forum will help bolster the country's presence in UNESCO and its chance of winning the election.

During the 37th session, historic monuments and sites in North Korea's border city of Kaesong are almost certain to be added to the world heritage list, according to officials.

Kaesong was the capital of the Goryeo Dynasty that ruled the Korean Peninsula from 918 until 1392 when it was replaced by the Joseon Dynasty.

In 2004, North Korea added tombs of the ancient Korean kingdom of Koguryo (37 B.C.-668 A.D.) to the world heritage list.

The WHC is expected to make a decision on the North Korean heritage sites on Thursday or Friday, Seoul officials said.

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