Jikji, 78 years ahead of Gutenberg Bible

Goryeo, the medieval leader of printing technology, opened the road of type technology.

 The Renaissance in the 14th century
 The Reformation on October 31, 1517
 The French Civil Revolution on July 14, 1789
 The Industrial Revolution in the 18th century
The last one thousand years have been a period of dramatic changes.

Many important changes have occurred over the last millennium.  

There were some events that were particularly significant.

The first among the 100 greatest events that changed the world

Time magazine
The Washington Post
The Wall Street Journal
Life magazine

The choice of these influential media was …
The invention of metal type by Johannes Gutenberg

Before the invention of metal type, books were only for kings, the nobility and the clergy.

Oryun Haengsildo, a book printed with metal type during the Joseon dynasty

Gutenberg’s invention of metal type printing brought major changes to the world. Metal type printing press enabled the mass production of books that contained vast amounts of knowledge. Information began spreading to the public at a rapid rate.

 Gutenberg’s printing press
 Printing of the 42-line Bible in 1455
 Gutenberg’s movable metal type

During the Middle Ages, the invention of movable metal type printing brought about the first information revolution in human history.

However …

Many scholars have raised questions about the process of his invention.
The most common question was how he invented movable metal type.

 An unsolved mystery about the great invention

Europe in the 15th century had no background in movable type printing.
1. Europe had little knowledge of movable type printing.
The biggest question was how Gutenberg gained his knowledge of printing.
2. Gutenberg never worked in the printing industry. 

Gutenberg was a goldsmith, which had no relevance to metal type printing.
3. Gutenberg was a goldsmith, not a printing expert. 

Nevertheless, Gutenberg has been known as the inventor of metal type printing. Within only twenty years, a man with no background in printing invented movable metal type, the greatest invention in human history. It was a mystery that could only be interpreted as a miracle.

For over 450 years, no one could solve this mystery.
The first clue was finally found in 1900.

Collin de Plancy, a French diplomat to Korea, collected old Korean books.

 Collin de Plancy (1853~1922)

One of his old books ended up in an international exhibition in France.

It was a historic moment when Jikji was finally discovered by the rest of the world. Jikji later became recognized as the world’s oldest extant book printed with movable metal type.
The Paris Universal Exposition in 1900
Jikji Simche Yojeol

The old book from the Orient was printed in 1377.
That was 78 years before the printing of Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible.
 Jikji Simche Yojeol (1377) / The 42-line Bible (1455)

The discovery of Jikji changed the history of printing. For hundreds of years, metal type printing was thought to have been invented in the West and then spread throughout the world.

Even more surprising is that the history of metal type printing in Korea traces back to Goryeo. The first record of metal type printing is found in the early 1200s, which is over 200 years before Gutenberg’s invention.

There is a record indicating that the 50 volumes of Sangjeong Yemun were printed with metal type in 1234.
 Dongguk Isanggukjip

In October of 2005, printing scholars of Germany and Korea suggested an interesting possibility. Goryeo’s metal type printing technology influenced the printing history of the East, including China and Iran, and then it might have even spread to the West.

Through the northern route of the Silk Road, it could have reached Samarkand, the capital of the Timur Empire, and then spread further to the West.

 The statue of Khachatour Vardapet at Iran’s Vank Cathedral
 The metal printing press at Iran’s Vank Cathedral

This proves that there was a vast Type Road that started in Goryeo and connected all the way through to Germany.

Al Gore, the former vice-president of the United States and Nobel peace prize laureate, found an interesting record at the Swiss Museum of Paper, Writing and Printing. The record indicated that a papal delegation to Goryeo brought printing technology back to Europe. 

 A testimony of former U.S. vice-president Al Gore
 Evidence at the Swiss Museum of Paper, Writing and Printing

Goryeo not only invented metal type printing, but also compiled an extensive collection of around 4,700 Buddhist scriptures that were scattered throughout East Asia.

Goryeo was the leader of printing technology, which created Palman Daejanggyeong (the Tripitaka Koreana). Palman Daejanggyeong became the standard of the Eastern Buddhist scripture collection, and provided a foundation for the world’s Buddhist research.

Goryeo’s Palman Daejanggyeong

Goryeo was a leading country in trade and made the name “Corea” known to the world.
It engaged in trade with merchants from all over the world, including Arabia and Persia.

It was during the Goryeo dynasty that Korea began to be referred to as “Corea” by the western world.

 Old maps of Byeokrando (port)
 Arabian merchants in Byeokrando

As a leader of maritime trade and printing technology, Goryeo actively conducted cultural exchanges with the rest of the world.

By doing so, Goryeo was able to pave the Type Road and spread metal type printing to the West, which consequently changed human history.

In 2001, Jikji was recognized as the oldest known book of movable metal print and was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

 Certificate of the UNESCO Memory of the World Register

For the last thousand years, movable type printing led cultural change. Now, it enters a new era of new information technology called multimedia.

 A tool that made movable metal type

Korea has established the fastest information network in the world, and is a leader in the high-tech industry, particularly in the fields of internet service and semi-conductor memory.
Among 180 countries, Korea is ranked first in the global customer satisfaction index for information technology.

The power of Korea as a global IT powerhouse originated in the Goryeo dynasty, which led the first information revolution by inventing the world’s first metal type printing.

VANK and the Cheongju Early Printing Museum are conducting the Jikji globalization campaign to promote Jikji to the world.

We will build a new Type Road and lead 21st century information technology by succeeding with the pioneer spirit that was evident in the creation of Jikji by Goryeo. 

Jikji is a great heritage that we must inherit and creatively develop.

 An exhibition during the Jikji Festival by the Cheongju Early Printing Museum 
 A welcoming ceremony for cultural ambassadors by VANK

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