[News Briefing] France returns looted royal texts on loan

Posted on : 2010-11-13 14:08 KST Modified on : 2010-11-13 14:08 KST
 “South Koreans cannot sleep
“South Koreans cannot sleep

A royal collection of ancient Korean texts Oegyujanggak, Joseon Dynasty royal library, books will finally return home 144 years after being taken by France as war trophies.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to return the books looted during the Joseon Dynasty on a lease basis and renew the lease contract every five years during summit talks on Friday, putting a period on a 19-year tug-of-war over their return.

“I would like to resolve the thorny problem lingering between the two countries,” Sarkozy was quoted as saying by Hong Sang-pyo, Lee’s senior public affairs secretary. “I would return the books on a five-year renewable lease basis, under the procedures of the domestic laws [of France].” Lee said he accepted it as a “substantive return,” Hong added.

The negotiations began in 1991 when South Korea demanded France to return ancient Korean texts looted in the 19th century. The Oegyujanggak books were looted from the royal library in 1866 and have been kept in the National Library of France to date, while South Korea only learned of the French possession in 1975.

Korean royal texts to be returned are 297 volumes that dictate the protocols of royal ceremonies and rights among more than one thousand books and documents housed in the royal library. One of a total of 298 Oegyujanggak books was returned to Korea in 1993 by then-French President François Maurice Marie Mitterrand.

Two pilots die in spy plane crash

Two pilots died after their RF-4C reconnaissance plane crashed into a mountain in Imsil District, North Jeolla Province, during a routine “low-altitude” training flight, the Air Force said Friday.

The reconnaissance plane left an air base in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, at 11:50 a.m. and disappeared from control towers’ radar around 12:30 p. m. The remains of two airmen's bodies and uniforms, and remains of the aircraft were found at the crash site in a mountainous area, according to the Air Force.

The crashed RF-4C, a 44-year-old variation of F-4 Phantom II fighter jet equipped with high-definition cameras, was produced by U. S. aircraft maker McDonnell Douglas in 1966 and introduced into the South Korean Air Force, Sept. 1990.

Friday’s accident was the second such case involving the RF-4C plane in recent years. In April 2008, one of the aircraft crashed, but the two pilots aboard ejected safely.

About 20 of these planes in operation in the South Korean Air Force mainly undertake missions to collect information on North Korean military bases flying close to the ground.

Obama says auto provisions are KORUS FTA obstacle

U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday that non-tariff barriers on auto trade served as a bigger obstacle than beef exports to the conclusion of talks for the ratification of South Korea-U. S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA).

“Beef was not the only issue that was of concern,” Obama said at a news conference after G-20 Summit in Seoul.

“In fact, a larger concern had to do with autos. And the concern is very simple. We have about 400,000 Korean autos in the United States and a few thousand American cars here in Korea.”

In particular, President Obama emphasized the necessity of revising the content of KORUS FTA, saying, “we need an agreement with which we can persuade the U.S. Congress.”

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

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