Obama May Return Lost Royal Artifacts During South Korean Visit

One of the seals that the US hopes to return to South Korea when president Obama visits Seoul next week. Photo: courtesy South Korean Cultural Heritage Administration.

When President Barack Obama visits South Korea next week, he may bring with him a collection of lost Korean artifacts, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The items in question are nine royal and national seals dating to the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897) and the Korean Empire (1897–1910). The seals went missing during the Korean War (1950–53), and were recovered by US customs from the family of a deceased Marine late last year.

In a statement, a South Korean ministry official claimed that the two countries “have been negotiating the return of nine royal and national seals, having President Obama’s visit to Seoul in mind,” as an opportune moment to repatriate the missing artifacts. Previously, the seals were expected to be returned in June.

In addition to the nine seals that may be making their way home next week, an additional two seals, one from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art collection, and another seized from a US antique collector, may be returned soon.

Obama will be in South Korea on April 25 and 26.

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