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UNESCO status for Korean wrestling

China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-28 08:53
An undated composite graph shows 'ssireum,' Korean traditional wrestling, matches in the ROK (L) and in the DPRK (R). [Photo/IC]

SEOUL - Divided for about seven decades, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea together won their first international recognition of Korean traditional wrestling as one of the world's cultural treasures on Monday.

The neighbors had earlier pushed separate bids for the sport's UNESCO recognition before merging their applications amid an easing of tensions this year. Local media reports said Seoul had first proposed the joint bid after a leaders' summit at the Korean border village of Panmunjom in April.

On Monday, UNESCO said Korean wrestling had been added to a list of "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" on the basis of an application by the neighbors.

"The joint inscription marks a highly symbolic step on the road to inter-Korean reconciliation," UNESCO director-general Audrey Azoulay said in a statement. "It reminds us of the peace-building power of cultural heritage, as a bridge between peoples. This marks a victory for the longstanding and profound ties between both sides of the inter-Korean border."

ROK President Moon Jae-in hailed the UNESCO inscription, calling it a "result of recent South-North cooperation".

Seoul and Pyongyang saw their ties improved greatly since the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong-un reached out to Moon and US President Donald Trump with a nuclear disarmament commitment early this year.

The two neighbors were a single country before their separation in 1945. Split along the world's most heavily fortified border, they now have linguistic, cultural and other gaps.

They use different English Romanization rules. The wrestling's English spelling is "ssirum" in the DPRK and "ssireum" in the ROK. They used both spellings for their combined bid for UNESCO recognition.

The DPRK won UNESCO recognition of two Korean cultural assets - the Korean folk tune Airrang and the making of kimchi, a traditional dish made from vegetables, most commonly cabbage. The two are among the 19 items that the ROK has received UNESCO recognition for, according to ROK officials.

Agence France-Presse

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