U.S. museum to return Joseon Dynasty seal to S. Korea

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. museum has decided to return a seal used by a queen of Korea's Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) after confirming it was stolen by an American soldier during the 1950-53 Korean War, a South Korean lawmaker said Thursday.

Rep. An Min-suk of the main opposition Democratic Party said officials at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art expressed their intention to return the artifact to South Korea and issued a statement confirming the decision.

"Our persistent efforts to collect evidence and demand (the seal's) return have paid off," An told reporters in front of the museum.

The seal, which belonged to Queen Munjeong (1501-1565), the second wife of Joseon's 11th king, Jungjong, is believed to have been stolen from Seoul's Jongmyo Shrine by an American soldier during the Korean War.

The museum said it decided to return the seal to South Korea after confirming through an internal probe that the artifact had been removed from the shrine illegally, according to the statement.

The museum bought the seal in an auction in 2000.

Museum officials have asked to meet with South Korean government officials to discuss the details involved in returning the seal, the lawmaker said, adding that the artifact could be returned as early as later this year.

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