Over 180-thousand pieces of Korean cultural assets are located abroad due to various reasons. But preservation of these assets is not in the best condition and in many cases, the treasures are damaged and left neglected at museum storage. South Korea has been exerting efforts for years to directly reach out to these relics for their better preservation.
A leopard with an angry expression looks up at a magpie. A pair of butterflies is also seen in the upper part of the scroll. A mysterious man dressed in pink colored government attire. His face, body and the chair he's sitting on, are all drawn from different viewpoints, reflecting key characteristics of 18th century portraits. These paintings are Korean cultural assets kept at museums overseas. These works were not originally in the state we see them today. The paintings were neglected for a long time in foreign countries and have lost the original form. A staff identify damaged areas through a microscope, clean them up and then carefully apply new coats of paint. This process which can take up to 2 years breathes new life into old crumpled artworks with fading colors.
[Soundbite] WON HO-SEONG(PRESIDENT, JUNG JAE CULTURAL CONSERVATION CENTER) : "We feel great pride in conducting restoration work on Korean cultural assets located abroad."
Art pieces damaged overseas due to poor oversight have been completely reborn through this process.
[Soundbite] CHA MI-AE(OVERSEAS KOREAN CULTURAL HERITAGE FOUNDATION) : "Artworks that didn't see the light of day, kept in storage in a damaged state, are restored, ready to be displayed."
Once the exhibition held here in Korea is over, the artworks will return to their respective countries. Since 2013, the Overseas Korean Cultural Heritage Foundation has completed or is currently involved in some 36 such restoration projects on pieces from eight countries. The assets can't be brought home for good but they are still Korean relics representing Korean beauty in