|Suh Hye-ran, chief executive of the National Library of Korea, speaks during a government audit held at the National Assembly in Seoul, Thursday. Joint Press Corps|
By Park Han-sol
Among the vast art collection donated to the National Museum of Korea (NMK) by the families of late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee earlier this year, the ancient manuscripts should belong to the National Library of Korea (NLK), its chief executive, Suh Hye-ran, stated on Thursday.
During the government audit of the National Assembly's Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee held in Yeouido, Seoul, Suh expressed concern that a large number of ancient documents now stored at the NMK's holding will "make it difficult for literary scholars and researchers to gain proper access to them."
In late April, the NMK became the biggest recipient of the Samsung's donation, securing a total of 21,693 artifacts. Among the massive art trove, more than a half of the items ― 12,558 relics, to be precise ― are books and manuscripts.
Rep. Lee Che-ik of the conservative main opposition People Power Party (PPP), who serves as the head of the Assembly's culture committee, similarly said, "Early classical texts should be sent to the national library's collection in order to carry out the necessary research on their compilation and publication process."
He also pointed out that the NLK's annual budget allocated for purchase of literary resources is surprisingly low ― approximately 300 million won ($250,000).
"The library is incapable of actively acquiring not only the classical texts, but also disappearing modern literature and other domestic and international resources," Suh said. "Instead, it must often depend on donations from external sources."
She announced that the national library, which has been recently pushing for the extensive digitization of its own holdings, is also currently in the process of establishing a plan to chronologically digitize the museum's donated texts in order to make them public on the library's website.
|Pages of the 15th-century Buddhist manuscript, 'Seokbosangjeol' volumes 20 and 21, printed in old hangeul, on display at the National Museum of Korea / Courtesy of NMK|