july 16, Juche108(2019)

Conservation of ICH in the DPRK

Staff reporter Kim Hyok Myong had a talk with Pak Mu Song, deputy section-chief of the National Authority for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (NAPCH) about the conservation of the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in the DPRK.

Kim: Please tell me when the DPRK started the ICH conservation.

Pak: It organized a committee for investigating material and cultural relics under the direct control of the Cabinet on November 1, 1948 in order to conserve and develop valuable assets of the nation. It has adopted several culture-related laws and taken various measures for carrying forward the national traditions.

In September 2012, it set up an organ in charge of the ICH conservation under the NAPCH, with the result that a well-knit system has been established to provide unified guidance over unearthing, historical investigation, deliberation, registration, conservation and management of the overall intangible cultural heritage of the country.

Besides, intangible cultural heritage is conserved as an undertaking involving the whole country and all the people, while giving wide publicity to the work through symposiums, newspapers, radio and TV.

Regular ICH education is given in over 30 subjects at Kim Il Sung University, Kim Hyong Jik University of Education, universities of education and teachers training colleges in all provinces, and over 10 subjects at Pyongyang Jang Chol Gu University of Commerce.

Kim: Would you explain how the ICH is classified and registered?

Pak: In general, the ICH embraces the traditional customs and living manners of the Korean nation, knowledge and talent, and their relevant means and tools.

According to the objects and characteristics, it is classified into folklore tradition, social customs, rituals and living manners, traditional art and food and eating habits, traditional medicine, and traditional handicraft legacy.

It is also classified into the national and local ICH.

After the Korean folk song Arirang was registered as No. 1 of the national ICH, 107 items have been inscribed on the national ICH list as of 2018, and 10 items on the local ICH list.

Last year alone, about 30 items, including the techniques of preparing scorched-rice tea, making kayagum and jottae (flute), white porcelain, Hoeryong glazed earthenware, jongol (casserole) and sweet drink made from rice and malt, have been added to the ICH list.

Kim: Please tell me about your work with the UNESCO.

Pak: The UNESCO, fully aware of the importance and urgency of the ICH conservation, adopted a convention on the ICH conservation at the 32nd session of its annual meeting held in Paris of France between September 29 and October 17, 2003.

The DPRK joined the International Convention for safeguarding the ICH on November 21, 2008.

A short course on general understanding of the ICH conservation was organized in our country in 2013, and a UNESCO short course on building up the ability to make a document of recommendation in 2016 and 2018.

It is conducting the work to make a periodic report of its activities on a regular basis and submit various documents of recommendation to the annual inter-governmental committee for the ICH conservation of the UNESCO for deliberation and registration.

At present, “Arirang folk song in the DPRK” (November 26, 2014), “tradition of kimchi making in the DPRK” (December 2, 2015) and “traditional Korean wrestling ‘ssirum’” (November 26, 2018) have been inscribed on the representative list of ICH of humanity.

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