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Goryeong Jisan-dong Tumuli completes first step towards UNESCO World Heritage listing
Goryeong Jisan-dong Tumuli completes first step towards UNESCO World Heritage listing
- World Heritage nomination file for the “Gaya Tumuli” passes UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s formal requirement evaluation process -

Gyeongsangbuk-do (Provincial Governor: Lee Cheol-Woo) announced that its World Heritage nomination file for the “Gaya Tumuli,” which includes the Goryeong Jisan-dong Tumuli, has passed the completeness check process at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

* UNESCO World Heritage Centre: Secretariat responsible for the operation of the World Heritage Committee and the General Assembly of States Partiesto the World Heritage Convention, which is tasked with determining the listing of UNESCO World Heritage sites and inspecting their conservation status. UNESCO Headquarters (Paris, France)

** Completeness check: A process by which the UNESCO World Heritage Centre reviews whether the received nomination for registration satisfies its formal requirements. If the nomination passes its completeness check, the World Heritage Centre proceeds with a full-scale screening process for World Heritage listing (if nomination fails to pass the completeness check, forms will be returned to the applicant state government).

Now that the World Heritage nomination for the “Gaya Tumuli” has successfully passed the World Heritage Centre’s completeness check, it will embark on a full review process, pursuant to the “Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention,” starting in March of the same year, and proceed through a document review, on-site inspection, and two comprehensive discussion sessions led by its Advisory Bodies.

* A cultural heritage site is evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), while a natural heritage site is evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). As such, the Gaya Tumuli will be evaluated by ICOMOS.

The Gyeongsangbuk-do Government believes that UNESCO will initiate its evaluation process this month, and arrive at its decision whether to list the “Gaya Tumuli” as a World Heritage by the 46th World Heritage Committee, which is scheduled for July next year.

The “Gaya Tumuli” is a group of seven tombs created by the Gaya Dynasty, which had a dominion that stretched across the southern part of the Korean peninsula between the 1st to 6th centuries AD. Specifically, it includes the Jisan-dong Tumuli in Goryeong, Gyeongsangbuk-do (Historic Site No. 79), the Daeseong-dong Tumuli in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do (Historic Site No. 341), the Malisan Tumuli in Haman (Historic Site No. 515), the Okjeon Tumuli in Hapcheon (Historic Site No. 326), the Songhak-dong Tumuli in Goseong (Historic Site No. 119), the Gyo-dong and Songhyeon-dong Tumuli in Changnyeong (Historic Site No. 514), and the Yugok-ri and Durak-ri Tumuli in Namwon, Jeollabuk-do (Historic Site No. 542).

The “Gaya Tumuli” nominated for UNESCO listing is considered great examples of each region that made up the Gaya Federation. It serves as critical evidence that shows the unique nature of ancient Gaya, which maintained a distinct political system based on alliances. This was in stark contrast to neighboring dynasties, Silla and Baekje, both of which had more centralized political systems, and as such, it gives experts a glimpse into a very specific form of civilization that existed in ancient Northeast Asia.

In particular, the Goryeong Jisan-dong Tumuli is one of the best examples of a tomb cluster created by Daegaya, a dynasty that grew as it unified the northern regions of Gaya in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. With a series of tombs grouped closely together on hills with excellent visibility make for a spectacular view, showing the status Daegaya enjoyed as the central power of the Gaya alliance as well as Gaya’s heyday in ancient Korea.

If the “Gaya Tumuli” were to be listed as a World Heritage, it will become the 15th site (most recently listed: Seowon, Korean Neo-Confucian Academies in 2019), and the 6th site in Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Kim Sang-cheol, head of the Gyeongsangbuk-do Culture, Tourism and Sports Bureau, emphasized, “The Gaya Tumuli is a serial heritage with a cluster of seven tomb. As such, cooperation with related organizations is of paramount importance for our World Heritage nomination process.” Kim added, “We promise to do our best to ensure that the Gaya Tumuli, including the Jisan-dong Tumuli in Goryeong, can be listed as a World Heritage in close cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Administration and all related local governments.”
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