Manwoldae Palace in Gaeseong, North Korea, is where the joint excavation project is being conducted. (Cultural Heritage Administration)

Manwoldae Palace in Gaeseong, North Korea, is where the joint excavation project is being conducted. (Cultural Heritage Administration)

By Xu Aiying and Kim Minji

The United Nations Security Council’s Sanctions Committee on North Korea on April 16 approved a sanction waiver for bringing equipment to the North for joint inter-Korean excavations of Manwoldae Palace in Gaeseong.

Since 2007, both Koreas have conducted seven joint excavations at the palace of Goryeo Dynasty (A.D. 918-1392). Such operations have been interrupted and resumed several times depending on the state of bilateral relations.

In October last year, a joint study for an eighth excavation was conducted, covering 33,000 ㎡ of the western architectural area out of the combined 250,000 ㎡. Forty building wings, two terraces, two large staircases and 16,500 relics were confirmed as a result.

The temporary exemption is an exceptional measure for inter-Korean cooperation while maintaining most sanctions on North Korea, being the first waiver of its kind applied to inter-Korean cultural projects.

Unification Ministry spokesperson Lee Sang-min told a news briefing at the Government Complex-Seoul, “The administration hopes that the joint excavation of Manwoldae Palace is resumed and contributes to the recovery of cultural homogeneity of the two Koreas,” adding, “Both Koreas will promote cooperation for the joint excavation project, preservation of relics and supplies for restoration.”

“The delivery of equipment for relic preservation and restoration and joint excavation such as excavators or trucks will be permitted from South Korea to the North.”

He added, “Because the sanction exemption has been approved, we will discuss necessary procedures with North Korea.”

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