Since the enactment of the Cultural Heritage Protection Act in 1962, Republic of Korea has undertaken systematic efforts to safeguard intangible cultural heritage on its territory and so is a leading country in this regard. The Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) is the governmental agency tasked with the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in Republic of Korea, It is responsible: for the safeguarding and utilization of cultural heritage; setting policy concerning cultural heritage in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Protection Act; and implementing relevant measures. It has a dedicated Intangible Cultural Heritage Division. In addition to the Cultural Heritage Protection Act and its enforcement Degree and Regulations, the other piece of legislation relevant to intangible cultural heritage is the Regulations on Designation of Important Intangible Cultural Heritage, Recognition of Master (Organization Concerned) and Selection of Teaching Assistants. The safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is included in the Five-year Master Plan on the Preservation, Management and Utilization of the CHA. The priorities of the 2007-2011 Plan included: (1) expanding the opportunities for the public to enjoy intangible cultural heritage; (2) drawing up guidelines for supporting activities by intangible cultural heritage practitioners; and (3) providing support for the construction and operation of a heritage training centre to lay the foundation for heritage transmission, and assistance for performances and exhibitions.
Training in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage is provided at the Korean National University of Cultural Heritage (KNUCH). The institution was established to nurture specialists in cultural traditions and its Department of Cultural Properties Management seeks to produce experts specializing in cultural heritage safeguarding through training courses on the systematic safeguarding and creative utilization of cultural heritage. The Training Centre for Traditional Culture (affiliated with KNUCH) also offers a variety of specialized online and offline courses for administrators and professionals in cultural heritage safeguarding and for school teachers.
The National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage (NRICH) and the National Gugak Centre are the institutions tasked with the systematic documentation of intangible cultural heritage and the collection and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage-related data. The NRICH (a research-oriented institution under the CHA) documents State-designated intangible cultural heritage elements and undertakes extensive research on non-designated intangible cultural heritage elements. The National Gugak Centre, based in Seoul, has three branches in Namwon (North Jeolla Province), Jindo (South Jeolla Province) and Busan. The National Center for Korean Folk Performing Arts is a national institute established to promote and lay the foundation for folk music and to take responsibility for its education and dissemination; it has both training and documentation functions.
Intangible cultural heritage inventories were introduced in 1964 and (as of November 2011) include 126 elements designated by the State as Important Intangible Cultural Heritage (with 484 recognized masters) and 410 elements designated by one of sixteen cities or provinces as City- or Province-designated Intangible Cultural Heritage (with 852 masters). The identification of intangible cultural heritage elements is an ongoing process and the inventories are continuously updated. Although each list is under a separate competent body and regulations, local-level regulations are in conformity with those on a state level, and the lists are neither exclusive nor independent, since elements can be transferred from one inventory to another, or inscribed on more than one inventory.
The criteria for inscription are set out in the Criteria for Designation of Important Intangible Cultural Heritage, a table attached to the Enforcement Decree of the Cultural Heritage Protection Act. One overriding criterion is shared by all elements: the element must have outstanding historic, academic and artistic value and be rich in local character. Specific criteria are elaborated for each genre or domain and are divided into: heritage value (historic, artistic and academic value, and distinct local character); the capability of transmission (transmission skills and transmission activities); and the transmission environment (conditions, base and willingness of transmission). Viability is considered as the top priority in establishing the inventory and elements are divided into two categories: those in need of revitalization and those in danger of extinction, each with a different safeguarding policy.
The inventorying process is conducted over four stages: submission of an application by the expert group or community concerned, the field survey, evaluation by the CHA, and the decision-making stage. The inventory is published in book form and is also compiled into a digital database that is accessible online. Updating the inventory occurs in three ways: regular inspection of the inventory; reinforcement by practitioners of an element; and inscription of a new element. Any community that safeguards and transmits a certain element and wishes to include it in the inventory can complete an application in the required format and submit it to the CHA or local government. In most cases, the applicant community works with experts and non-governmental organizations to produce a more objective application.
Essentially, three types of measures are put in place to promote public awareness of intangible cultural heritage: public education, support for performances and providing access to information. Hence, both central and local governments have provided financial support for intangible cultural heritage performances and exhibitions in order to enhance the visibility and public understanding of intangible cultural heritage. Intangible cultural heritage-related resources (books, photos, videos, etc.) are available both online and offline for the general public and intangible cultural heritage practitioners.
Intangible cultural heritage-related courses are offered as part of secondary and tertiary curricula to ensure a systematic intangible cultural heritage education. Not all intangible cultural heritage elements are included in this, but organized educational activities have been conducted in the field of traditional performing art genres including music, dance and drama. Notably, traditional music classes accounted for 50 % of the musical curriculum in 2011. Intangible cultural heritage elements are also included in lifelong learning and footholds have been established for the general public as well as intangible cultural heritage practitioners to experience and transmit a broad range of intangible cultural heritage. Communities, groups and individuals related to intangible cultural heritage elements also participate in regular training courses to teach their intangible cultural heritage skills and artistry to the general public. Safeguarding societies (many of which are organized by practitioners) offer educational programmes and transmission activities on a regular basis in training institutions established with the support of central and local governments.
In the area of bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, Republic of Korea has entered into bilateral cultural agreements with various countries (e.g. Viet Nam, Mongolia, Australia, the Philippines and Mexico). These agreements cover such areas as the exchange of intangible cultural heritage-related information, specialist and research exchanges, and the reciprocal promotion of intangible cultural heritage performances. As for the development of networks at the sub-regional and/or regional levels, the NRICH has hosted an annual programme entitled the Asia Cooperation Programme on Conservation Science (ACPCS). This was designed to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experience among Asian countries in a range of fields conducive to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, including policy-making and documentation. The NRICH also promotes international exchanges for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.
Given that the category 2 centre ICHCAP is hosted by Republic of Korea, much intangible cultural heritage-related international work takes place through that institution. For example, since 2010, ICHCAP has held meetings with the aim of promoting sub-regional cooperation among countries in the Asia-Pacific region. It has cooperated with the University of Queensland (Australia) to develop a networking programme for experts in the field of intangible cultural heritage in the Asia-Pacific region. Another ICHCAP activity has been a programme for sharing intangible cultural heritage documentation among States concerned (e.g. China, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Taiwan) since 2008. Field surveys of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding efforts in the Asia-Pacific region have also been undertaken (in Cambodia, Fiji, Mongolia, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam in 2009; in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, and the Philippines in 2010; and in the Cook Islands, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tonga in 2011). ICHCAP has also collaborated on developing a Cultural Atlas of India and providing support for intangible cultural heritage inventory-making and documentation in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Republic of Korea reports here on eleven elements on the Representative List: the Royal ancestral ritual in the Jongmyo shrine and its music (incorporated in 2008 after having been proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001); the Pansori epic chant (also incorporated in 2008, after having been declared a Masterpiece in 2003); the Gangneung Danoje Festival (also incorporated in 2008, after being declared a Masterpiece in 2005); Ganggangsullae (2009); Namsadang Nori (2009); Yeongsanjae (2009) ; Jeju Chilmeoridang Yeongdeunggut (2009); Cheoyongmu (2009); Gagok, lyric song cycles accompanied by an orchestra (2010); Daemokjang (2010); and Falconry, a living human heritage (2010, on a multinational basis with United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Morocco, Qatar, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Mongolia). Subsequent to its inscription, the safeguarding and transmission of the Yeongsanjae element has become an important mutual point of interest among safeguarding association members, Buddhists, related academics and groups and a greater number of Cheoyongmu performances have taken place than ever before. Falconry had become threatened with extinction through a lack of public awareness but has now received immediate public attention. At the local level, examples such as these have led to a sense of pride in local residents and improved mutual respect between communities. The ripple effect of the inscription will have an influence on the support policies of both central and local governments.
In many cases, masters and other practitioners have established safeguarding associations through which they transmit their intangible cultural heritage through teaching and performances. These are generally supported by both central and local governments. The Jongmyo Jerye Preservation Association, for example, provides specialist training in passing down the procedure of the ritual, which is organized by the safeguarding association for Jongmyo Jerye music and the National Gugak Centre. Pansori is also safeguarded and transmitted by various groups of practitioners, including performers who have learned traditional music through traditional gujeonsimsu teaching as well as through the education system. Currently, three craftspeople in their 60s to 70s, who are designated as Daemokjang masters, hand down their distinctive skills and expertise to their apprentices through traditional modes of transmission. The transmission of Ganggangsullae was traditionally passed down by women through oral dissemination, but is now centred around the Ganggangsullae Preservation Association, which consists of 49 practitioners including five masters who have established a strong oral transmission. Ganggangsullae has also been included in the music curricula of elementary schools, and so the formal and non-formal modes of transmission operate in tandem. The heritage education course to cultivate Gagok musicians has been relatively shortened and, as a consequence, the number of expert Gagok singers is decreasing.