The journey of the Joseon Wangjo Silok

2. Ahn Ui and Sohn Hongrok
 - People who risked their lives to protect the nation’s documentary heritage


472 years of history

25 kings of a single royal lineage

Gyeongbokgung Palace from the Joseon Dynasty

Efforts to protect the integrity of the annals
Even the king was not allowed to review them.
Efforts to ensure safe storage
Four duplicates of the annals were made.
Each copy was stored in an archive in four different locations.

Chunchugwan office, Chungju archive, Jeonju archive and Sengju archive
Among all historical records of a single dynasty
The longest and most extensive record of royal history

Joseon Wangjo Sillok (Annals of the Joseon Dynasty)

There are no other annals in the world that continually record the history of such extended length in such detail. 

However …

A brutal war endangered the existence of these records. 

In 1592, Japan invaded Korea under the command of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Three major archives were burned and important historical records were lost.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Only one major archive remained in the country.

Jeonju archive

This archive was also in danger.

The history of the Joseon Dynasty could be lost forever. 
The war was getting worse.  

Japan was devastating the entire Korean peninsula.
The Imjin war


Ahn Ui and Sohn Hongrok, ordinary scholars from the rural town of Taean, Jeollado, ran toward the Jeonju archive.
They had only one goal.

Protect the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty!

They were not young.

Ahn Ui was 64, and Sohn Hongrok was 55.

Yet, there was an enormous amount of historical documents in the archive.

Around 830 volumes of annals and another 538 books, including the history of Goryeo

Sixty crates of documents had to be moved.

The destination was …

A place that is difficult to reach due to its rugged mountain terrain
Naejang Mountain means a mountain that hides many things inside of it.

Entrance to Naejang Mountain 

The precincts of the Naejang Temple

Ahn Ui and Sohn Hongrok sold their property to buy horses and hire workers.

They had the annals moved to secluded areas on the mountain.

The first hiding place for the annals

Yongguram (temple) on Naejang Mountain

Ahn Ui and Sohn Hongrok guarded the annals for 370 days

They worked day and night to protect the history of Joseon.

Historic site of protection on Naejang Mountain

The war lasted for seven years.

They had to watch out for developments in the war.
Depending on changes in the war, they moved the annals to different locations.

Despite the challenge, Ahn and Sohn willingly took up this responsibility. 
Ahn Ui and Sohn Hongrok

They disposed of all their property and even risked their lives.
What they protected was not just Joseon’s documentary heritage.

They protected the pride of a civilized people. 

Thanks to their efforts, the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty still exist today.

Among all historical records of a single dynasty

The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty is recognized as the world’s most comprehensive record of the longest continual period of a single dynasty.

In 1997, it was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World.

Ordinary scholars from Taean, Jeollado

Without the sacrifice of Ahn and Sohn, this important heritage would not have survived.

To protect the nation, its history and culture must be preserved.

A memorial service for Ahn Ui and Sohn Hongrok in the Naejang Temple

Their sprit has been passed down to the generations of today.

Efforts to retrieve Jikji and the Oegyujanggak books from France

Dr. Byungsun Park spent her life to achieve this goal.

Dr. Park is called the mother of Jikji and the Oegyujanggak Uigwe.

Jikji Simche Yojeol

Joseon Wangsil Uigwe (the Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty)

Tenacious efforts to retrieve Joseon royal archives from Japan  
Monk Hyemun spent his life to achieve this goal. 

Joseon Wangsil Uigwe
Monk Hyemun

We will continue to strive to protect the Korean spirit.

Together, we will promote Korean culture and history.

With our efforts, Korean heritage will continue to be passed down to future generations.

A welcoming ceremony for Korean cultural heritage ambassadors by VANK
The Jikji Festival, co-organized by VANK and the Cheongju Early Printing Museum

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