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Jikji in the world

JIKJI was inscribed on Memory of the World Register, UNESCO with Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible on the same day. By this, this book is not only Korean’s heritage but the world’s heritage. Eventually, the world recognized the value of this book. In this chapter, we tell you the influence to civilization of this book and the value as world heritage. And the world leader and scholars tell you great value of movable metal type.

Jikji was inscribed on UNESCO’s the Memory of the World
The proposal of JIKJI for Inscription on the Memory of the World was suggested during the 1996 seminar of UNESCO Chungcheong Province Association for the first time. The conclusion of this seminar was that Cheongju city should propose inscription of Jikji as the Memory of the World Register, because it was printed in it.

Jikji was printed with movable metal type in 1377 which was 78 years earlier than the Gutenberg’s 42-line bible and 145 years earlier than China’s Chunchubeonro. Consequently, Jikji has more value than two of them as documentary heritage.

Hence, Cheongju city, the Early Printing Museum of Cheongju, UNESCO Korea Committee and UNESCO Chungcheong Province Association cooperated and submitted Jikji as the Memory of the World. Jikji was examined during 2001 5th International Counsel Committee session. By three organizations’ efforts, it was inscribed on the Memory of the World Register in Sep 4th, 2001.

Memory of the World Programme
This programme aiming at preservation and dissemination of documentary heritages and library collections. UNESCO established the Memory of the World Programme in 1992. Impetus came originally from a growing awareness of the parlous state of preservation of, and access to, documentary heritage in various parts of the world.

The Memory of the World Register lists documentary heritage which has been identified by the International Advisory Committee in its meetings in Tashkent (September 1997), in Vienna (June 1999), in Cheongju City (June 2001), in Gdansk (August 2003) and in Lijiang (June 2005) and endorsed by the Director-General of UNESCO as corresponding to the selection criteria for world significance.

The selection basis of Memory of the World is as follows: The first basis is 1) Influence, 2)Time, 3)Place, 4)People, 5)Subject, 6)Theme, 7)Form and Style, Social Value and the second basis is 1)Integrity, 2)Rarity. The registered heritages satisfying this selection bases and approved by International Counsel Committee is permitted to be registered on Memory of the World.
* Source from UNESCO : Memory of the World website.

What is UNESCO?
UNESCO is the specialized institution of the UN for the purpose of the forever peace by promoting international understanding and cooperation in the field such as education, science, culture and communication. Human beings were aware of that, through the past 2 world wars, the direct reason for wars was not political, military or economic conflicts between countries, but intellectual, cultural conflicts from each nation's distrusts and prejudices.

As a result, human beings believed that the intellectual elevation and the promotion of mutual understanding were a basis for the peace, and thus UNESCO was established for the purpose of promoting international peace and human beings' welfare, which is declared by the UN Charter, under the mindset that peace should be constructed on human beings' intellectual and moral association.

UNESCO/JIKJI Memory of the World Prize
The UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize established in 2004. It was named after Jikji, the oldest metal type printed book. It will be given every two years to individuals or institutions that have made significant contributions to the preservation and improving accessibility of documentary heritage. It is UNESCO prize to further promote the objectives of the Memory of the World Programme and to commemorate the inscription of the Jikji, the oldest book with movable metal print in the world. The prize includes an award of US$ 30,000.

Former vice president of the United States, Al Gore’s statements about Korean printing
In 1995, Brussels, Belgium at the G7 Telecommunication Ministerial Conference : Koreans invented the movable metal type printing for the first time in the world, but unlike in Europe, It failed to develop Korean culture through its invention.
In 2005, the Seoul Digital Forum : Korea’s digital revolution is historically the second gift. Korea gives to the whole world following its invention of the movable metal type printing method.

Director of Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Dietrich Schuller statements about Korean printing Jikji is the first book printed with movable metals. This was the revolution in the dissemination of information because from that moment on book it was very easy to spread information to wide public. Therefore, it also can be called internet of the Middle Ages.

UNESCO Memory of the World Programme specialist, Joie Springer’s statement about Korean printing UNESCO's declare for to early printing museum to Cheonju city and Republic of Korea in General for their attention and care given us and the support promoting preservation working General. Since the inscription of Jikji book on the Memory of the World registered in 2001. We have seen increased in the amount of the world that goes into the preservation throughout the world for this year particularly glad that of the effort set to be we received from Korea and Cheongju in general.

Interview with the Chief of Cheongju Advisory Committee
Bendik Rugaas in Norway International Library took on the Chairman in the 5th Cheongju UNESCO Advisory Committee Meeting held in Cheongju, following the 4th Review Meeting, from 27th to 29th in JUN 2001. We interviewed with Bendik Rugaas and heard about the background and screening process of registering Jikji in the World Registered Legacy.

Officer of Cheongju : Can you tell me your impression of the results and Cheongju?
Bendik Rugaas : We could get very good results such as selecting 21 legacies through the meeting in Cheongju where the oldest extant movable metal type printed Book in the world was born. I also confirmed that the future of Cheongju, the print-cultural city, and world registered legacy are very bright when I saw lots of children visiting the Early Printing Museum of Cheongju.

Officer of Cheongju : In order to be selected to the World Registered Legacy, they should pass a few major selection bases such as the effects and social values. Which bases did Jikji pass?
Bendik Rugaas : Jikji is the oldest existing Metal Printed Book. It has influenced on human beings and spread out, so it was recognized to be the most influencable legacy. Additionally, the rarity was mainly considered in selecting it, because there is only one volume in France right now.

Officer of Cheongju : I heard that Jikji and Gutenberg's Bible were selected in this screening simultaneously.
Bendik Rugaas : Jikji and Geternberg's Bible are the oldest existing eastern and western Metal Printed Books, respectively. They have changed human beings' recording cultures completely. UNESCO Advisory Meeting recommended them to be registered under the spirit of The Memory of The World. After going back to UNESCO Headquarter, I will try to seek for the ways that can spread and preserve the old printing cultures.

Special column

The Influence and Importance of the Korean Metal Type

(Writer: Gi-tae Park, VANK Co-writer: Cheol-hee Lee, Director of Cheongju Early Printing Museum)

Though the Korean Metal Type was created earlier than Gutenberg‘s, there are someone who think that it is of less significance because it was less influential from a historical point of view.

I admit that it can be seen like that but isn't this from a western perspective? Because mankind evolving from a western basis, views of the west have been enormously influential to the world. However, there are something in Asia that the westerners don't know. Hence, the value is under rated. Jikji, the oldest extant movable metal type printing, is a good example. We would like to enlighten the world with the hidden values that await to be found. This is how we got to start this kind of work. From this point on, it is my humble wish that you accept the following not as a contradiction but merely as information of the unknown Korean as well as Asian values directed to ones of the world who are yet unfamiliar to content of this nature.

The main reason for Koreans using the Metal print was to, as Gutenberg. distribute mass information quickly. The fact that Koreans were, in early 13th century, 200 years ahead of Gutenberg, and widely using this technology is a very significant fact considering the importance of information distribution. I think that the people of the world should be aware of this. This is why UNESCO registered Jikji, which proves that Korea invented and used the Metal type, and Gutenberg as a Memory of the world in 2001 . Mr. Bendik Rugaas, Chairman, Norwegian, Memory of the World National Committee, explains the historical significance.

Jikji is the oldest existing Metal Printed Book. It has influenced on human beings and spread out, so it was recognized to be the most influenceable legacy. Additionally, the rarity was mainly considered in selecting it, because there is only one volume in France right now.

In the east, the fact that the Korean Metal type was imported to Japan and used to print books is recorded in Japanese history. This shows the fact that Korea's Metal type influenced Asia. For a more detailed example, in 1592, the Japanese General, Toyotomi Hideyoshi plundered the Copper type and in his journal 2nd year (1593), it says that he offered this to the Emperor Huyangsung. The Emperor commanded the printing of Gomun hyokyung. This is recorded in Shikyung Kyungki but there is no existing copy. Using a wooden type in 1597, Kwonhakmun was printed. In the preface, it states that the wooden type printing method was from Joseon dynasty, the ancient dynasty of Korea.

After Jikji, it was passed down, improved and used by more Koreans. This is a detailed reference in the Korean history book. In the Joseon dynasty, the printing technology continued to improve. After Gyemija in 1403, Gyeongjaja in 1420, Gabinja in 1434 and Byeongjinja in 1436 were used to print various books. After Hangeul was promulgated in 1446, a Metal type was used in 1447 to print Wolinchungangjigok.

From a western view, more research is needed to see how much influence this was inflicting. Also, there are some historians who claim that Gutenberg's metal type casting method was from Korea. For reference, this is what Al Gore, USA's former vice president, said in 2005 in his opening speech at The Seoul Digital Forum 2005. He said that he was surprised with Korea's advanced IT technology and he added saying, "Many know Gutenberg as the inventor of printing but this technology was obtained after the Pope's delegation after visiting Korea."

He also said, when Gutenberg invented printing press, he had talked with the Pope's delegation. He was friends with the delegation who brought him many different records of printing technology." He added that The Swiss printing Museum was the source of his information. (Yeonhap News May 19, 2005)
1) I would like to conclude that the Korean metal type was for swift distribution of mass information, just like Gutenberg.
2) Also in 2001, UNESCO registered the Jikji and Gutenberg for changing the world by informing massive amounts of information.
3) Last, the Korean Metal type influenced publishing books in Japan and this can be thought of as Jikji influencing Asia.

Therefore, Gutenberg and Jikji influenced the history of man (western history). But, besides comparing these two and the American and European view that Gutenberg has more significance than the Jikji, I believe that we need to study the significance of the Korean Metal type and look upon this from a worldly view. And as we do this, it is my hope that there is a balanced understanding of the Eastern Jikji and the western Gutenberg, both Metal types of the East and West, and that this is reflected in textbooks, encyclopedias and in the Internet.

I wish that this article will change your views on the Jikji and furthermore be of some help in making people from all corners of the world learn the right facts about Jikji.