France loans antique manuscripts back to S. Korea
France and South Korea on Monday signed a deal to loan back to South Korea a collection of antique manuscripts stolen in the 19th century, formalising an agreement made last year.
The royal archives of the Joseon dynasty, covering a period from the 15th to the 19th centuries, were seized in 1866 by a French admiral in retaliation for the Korean court's alleged persecution of Catholics.
"This accord... concerns the loan of these 297 manuscripts by France to South Korea for five years, which may be prolonged," a French foreign ministry statement said Monday.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-Bak agreed France would return the manuscripts to South Korea on a renewable loan during a Group of 20 summit in Seoul last November.
In 1993 France's then-president Francois Mitterrand handed back one set of manuscripts to South Korea on a long-term loan and Seoul has since demanded the return of the remainder.
© 2011 AFP