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Building a platform for the Info-Forum Museum related to the culture of the Korean Peninsula

Research period: June 2014 – March 2016 / Project for Database Improvement (project period: max. 2 years)

Coordinator ASAKURA Toshio


To create a comprehensive database of materials related to the culture of the Korean Peninsula already held by the National Museum of Ethnology (“Minpaku”), a fact-finding mission will be conducted to determine how those materials were collected by Minpaku when it established a permanent collection of Korean Peninsula culture, in 1983. Based on the results, the materials will be reorganized for exhibition.
In addition, a joint project will be conducted in collaboration with the National Folk Museum of Korea (NFMK). This will demonstrate how an interactive, multimedia database can be created based on past collaborative exhibitions held following conclusion of an academic exchange agreement between the two museums.
Discussions will also be held on the creation of a collaborative system to promote future inter-museum activities. One such opportunity will be during a special exhibition on Japanese and Korean food cultures, scheduled for 2016.


The permanent collection for the culture of the Korean Peninsula was first exhibited in 1983. It was renovated in 2000 and again in 2014. In 2002, a special exhibition, entitled Seoul Style 2002,” was held. Most of the materials in the Minpaku collection were collected specifically for these exhibitions. Toshio Asakura, who will lead this project, has been on the research staff of Minpaku since 1988. He has a good understanding of the materials collected after since he joined the museum. However, the manner in which many of the materials collected around 1983 were assembled is unknown and now untraceable. The establishment of the proposed Info-Forum Museum provides an opportunity to elucidate how the 1983 collection was made, and to identify the origins of the artifacts collected. Such information enables creation of a database that includes the entire collection of materials related to the culture of the Korean Peninsula. Fortunately, Minpaku will be helped by Shin Tak Keun, advisor to the Onyang Folk Museum, who was involved in the collection of materials around 1983.
Exhibitions held based on the academic exchange agreement between the two museums include “Seoul Style 2002” at Minpaku, “Neighboring Country – Japan,” held at NFMK in 2002,”Ulsan Collection,” held at Ulsan Museum in 2011, and “Arirang: The Soul of Korea,” held at Minpaku in 2013. Minpaku launched a “Videotheque” project in FY 2010 that created programs for the collection of the Museum. Based on the achievements made so far by the two museums, joint research will explore the kind of interactive multimedia database that could be generated.
As mentioned previously, in 2016 a special joint exhibition tentatively entitled “Food Cultures of Japan and Korea” will be held at both Minpaku and NFMK. From July 2014, Chang Ho Kim, who has been involved in the creation of NFMK’s database, was invited to Minpaku for one year as a Visiting Researcher. During this period of preparation for the 2016 food culture exhibition, the generation of an interactive multimedia database will be elaborated, based on to the display in the 2016 exhibition. Formation of a new style for future collaboration will also be examined.
Asakura Toshio will retire at the end of the proposed two-year project. However, he will establish the foundation for this project and pass it on to new researchers before he leaves Minpaku.

Expected results

Note: The results also indicate the type of database to be generated.

  • Organization of a Minpaku-owned foundational materials related to the culture of the Korean Peninsula, to create a comprehensive database;
  • Mutual use of databases managed individually by Minpaku and NFMK; and
  • Global launch of a database composed of resources managed by Minpaku and NFMK.

Outcomes from 2014

1. The implementation of this year’s research
The National Museum of Ethnology houses materials on the culture of the Korean Peninsula, among which approximately 2,700 items had been collected before 1988. To create the content for the foundation of our database, we worked on those items with a special advisor, Shin Tak Keun, of the Onyang Folk Museum, and who had been engaged in their collection.

Minpaku has academic exchange agreements with the National Folk Museum of Korea. Both museums discussed the type of information-generating multimedia database that could be created as a result of mutual cooperation.

Kim Chang-ho, who was involved in the creation of the database at the National Folk Museum of Korea, was invited to Minpaku as an Overseas Visiting Fellow for one year, from in July, 2014. With him we discussed the creation of an information- generating multimedia database to be introduced at a special exhibition of Korean and Japanese foods, in 2015. Following that work was begun on a database of food-related materials, in cooperation with Professor Sano of the Osaka Institute of Technology.

2. Overview of the research results (achievements of the research objectives)
Data on the approximately 2,700 items that had been collected before 1988 were supplemented and organized. Korean and Japanese versions of the data were created for the 500 items among them that concerned food.
One hundred and twenty different items were included in the Pictorial Book for the History and Culture of the Korean Nation: Dietary Habits, published by the National Folk Museum of Korea, Korean, Japanese and English versions of the item descriptions were prepared for this book.

3. Records disclosing the outcomes (publications, public symposia, sectional meetings of academic conferences, electronic media, etc.)