September 13, 2023
SEOUL – With UNESCO expressing concerns about the negative impacts that urban development plans may have on a UNESCO World Heritage property, the Cultural Heritage Administration said that it will implement all UNESCO recommendations.
“The CHA will implement all the recommendations from UNESCO regarding the Joseon royal tombs,” said a CHA official.
On Monday, UNESCO released its draft resolution for the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee currently underway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which it expressed concerns over royal tombs dating back to the Joseon era (1392-1910) — Jangneung, Taereung, Gangneung and Changneung, part of the 18 royal tombs from the Joseon Dynasty recognized as UNESCO World Heritage since 2009.
In 2021, UNESCO expressed concerns that plans to build high-rise apartment buildings near the royal tombs would have a negative impact on the authenticity, integrity and setting of the property. The property refers to 18 clusters of Joseon royal tombs in Korea.
In March, UNESCO sent an advisory mission including members of the World Heritage Center, ICOMOS and ICCROM to Changneung and Jangneung in Gyeonggi Province and Taereung and Gangneung in eastern Seoul.
The advisory mission said that the new developments, especially those at the Jangneung tomb site, affect the geomantic principles and the living heritage aspects of the sites. These two aspects of the tombs contributed to the outstanding universal value that enabled the Joseon tombs to be given UNESCO World Heritage status.
The South Korean government has acknowledged that high-rise apartment buildings being constructed around the site could adversely impact the outstanding universal value of Jangneung as a site chosen and based on geomantic principles.
In the draft resolution released Monday, UNESCO send a recommendation to South Korea to provide a review of the development impacts at each one of the 18 royal tombs of the Joseon Dynasty by Feb. 1, 2024.
UNESCO also encouraged South Korea to adopt legislation requiring the implementation of impact assessments for all major development projects within a wide range of world heritage properties.
It also requested inviting a joint monitoring mission consisting of members from the World Heritage Center, ICOMOS and ICCROM to the 18 royal tombs to inspect their conditions and check the impact of commercial developments on the property.
“The Cultural Heritage Administration will fully coordinate with UNESCO so as to preserve Jangneung’s status as UNESCO World Heritage and to prevent similar situations from recurring,” the official from the Cultural Heritage Administration told The Korea Herald Tuesday.
UNESCO’s impact assessments on Changneung, Taereung and Gangneung are still in progress.
Taereung and Gangneung are 50 meters and 200 meters away from the planned construction site in question, respectively.