“ICH dwelling in Citizen’s Life”..3rd World Forum for ICH successfully held

The 2019 World Forum for Intangible Cultural Heritage was held from 10 to 12 October at the National Intangible Heritage Center (NIHC) in Jeonju, Korea. The forum was attended by over forty experts from about twenty countries. Mr. BAN Ki-moon, the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations, was invited to present a special lecture. He said “ICH can contribute to the environment, economy and peace.”

Hosted by the NIHC and organized by ICHCAP, the third edition of the forum was an international meeting to discuss the safeguarding and promotion of ICH. Grounded on the theme of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage and Civic Life’, the forum was participated by about 350 local and foreign participants, including experts and the general public. Professor Kyung-Koo Han from Seoul National University, Korea, who served as a moderator on the first day, said “ICH was conventionally regarded as the masterpiece of humanity, but today it is widely disseminated in our daily lives.” “This is a meaningful opportunity to discuss ICH in earnest, which is now embedded in civic life”, he added.

During a special lecture, Mr. BAN Ki-moon stressed the role of ICH in achieving sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations. He explained “Promoting Korean food and agriculture to the world is ICH related to food security. Protecting ancestors’ wisdom, which is endangered by climate change, and making good products using natural methods can all contribute to social inclusion and economic growth.”

A special session dedicated to ICH in North Korea drew particular attention. UNESCO-accredited facilitator Suzanne Ogge, who visited North Korea in September 2018 to hold a workshop on ICH, said “North Korea had difficulty in defining ‘community’ which is to actively perform and record ICH, as the government takes the role of a community in the country. But, they had a very good understanding of the purposes of ICH safeguarding plans and they read all related documents carefully. They were well prepared in terms of the understanding of practical requirements for ICH safeguarding.” North Korea’s ICH inventory is assumed to have a number of elements that reflect the day-to-day lives of the people. Young-jeong Park, Division Head of the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute, said “North Korea has listed one hundred and eight ‘national immaterial heritage’, many of which are related to traditional folk remedies and food”, taking examples of Goryeo ginseng growing and utilization, acupuncture treatment, traditional sauce making, and mung bean pancake making.

Since its ratification of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008, North Korea inscribed three elements – Arirang folk song (2013), Tradition of kimchi-making (2014), and Traditional Korean wrestling (2018) – on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The traditional Korean wrestling, called ssireum, was jointly inscribed with South Korea, which was thought to have contributed to cultural unification on the Korean peninsula.

The forum also featured research presentations on ICH and civic life by experts, including, Professor Marc Jacobs of Critical Heritage Studies of University Antwerp, Belgium; Karma Phuntsho, President of the Loden Foundation of Bhutan; and, Aurore Lebouchard, Protection Officer of the UNHCR Representation in the Republic of Korea.

Meanwhile, the Festival of Korean Intangible Cultural Heritage was held by NIHC for four days from October 11, giving the forum participants a chance to enjoy Korean ICH, including a tightrope walking performance and haenyeo songs. The festival is the largest ICH event in Korea, which combines traditional crafts and performances.

Journalists came from seven countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines and Uzbekistan, to participate in the forum and cover ICH safeguarding and promotion policies in Korea.