Protect quotidian cultural heritage

Updated: 2014-03-25 07:58

(China Daily)

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South Korea has launched a campaign to get ondol, the underfloor heating system used in traditional houses, listed as part of the world's cultural heritage, which has prompted Chinese netizens to point out that such underground heating systems are also widely used in Northeast China. However, it is unwise to simply make complaints with hindsight as it is the early bird that gets the worm, says an article on Excerpts:

South Korea has the right to apply for its customs and craft skills to be recognized as representing the country's historical or cultural characteristics and other country has no right to interfere.

Given that China and South Korea have a long history of association it is not surprising there are some similarities in their traditional cultures and lifestyles, so it is inevitable that disputes will occur when applying for a shared cultural tradition to be listed as a unique part of the world's intangible cultural heritage.

From the perspective of cultural protection, it is not a good thing for a neighbor to take the lead in getting a shared tradition recognized as unique cultural heritage. And therefore we should constantly remind ourselves of the importance of protecting and applying for our intangible cultural heritage to be recognized before it is too late.

Also, it is worth reflection that our neighbor has given equal emphasis to its cultural essence as well as the traditions of ordinary citizens. It is this quotidian cultural heritage that always leaves the biggest impression on visitors from other countries, and most of the time, culture and history have been passed down through these seemingly homely artifacts and skills.