Korea seeks UNESCO listing for TV show on separated families

Korea seeks UNESCO listing for TV show on separated families

A 453-hour-long TV series aimed at reuniting separated families in Korea that aired in 1983 will be pushed for inclusion in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register next year, the Cultural Heritage Administration said Tuesday.

According to the CHA's unit for world heritage enlistment, the live TV show, "Finding Dispersed Family," aired by state-run broadcaster KBS from June 30 through Nov. 14 in 1983 was selected as Korea's candidate for next year's enlistment.

"The programme reflects the harsh and tragic reality of a divided nation. The show has originality and genuineness as well as international importance, what UNESCO requires for the register," a CHA official said.

The programme that ran for more than four months is now stored on a total of 463 VHS tapes. The programme introduced a total of 53,536 cases of families and individuals believed to have lost family during the Korean War (1950-1953). Through the live show that aired in the afternoon and evening every day, a total of 10,189 cases ended in reunions. The show was filled with tears and later joy, said Lee Min-ji, a staff member at KBS archive. KBS has submitted the video tapes as well as cue-sheets, documents and items related to the programme.

"At that time, there were several divided countries separating families but the programme was the first grand project to search for the families. It consoled wounded people but at the same time laid bare the atrocity of war," she said.

The programme won the Gold Mercury Award in 1984. The TV station in the same year produced a follow-up programme trying to match separated families in South Korea and China. The sequel, recorded on 211 videotapes, is also included for UNESCO candidacy.

If included, Korea will have a total of 12 items on the Memory of World Register. The 11 items currently listed are: a War Diary (Nanjung Ilgi); Archives of Saemaul Undong (New Community Movement); Hunminjeongeun (the original manuscript of Hangeul); the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty; Jikji (Korean Buddhist document); Seungjeongwon Ilgi (Diary of the Royal Secretariat during the Joseon Dynasty); the Uigwe (the royal protocols of the Joseon Dynasty); Printing woodblocks of the Tripitaka Koreana and miscellaneous Buddhist scriptures; The Dongui Bogam (priniciples and practices of Eastern medicine); Ilseongnok (records of daily reflections); and the archive of the May 18 Democratic Uprising.

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