Koguryo Tombs Complex In North Korea

Koguryo Tombs, North Korea.
Koguryo Tombs, North Korea.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is a unitary socialist one party state led by a totalitarian dictator, referred to as the supreme leader. It is located in the Eastern parts of Asia. It has its capital in Pyongyang city which is also the largest city in the country. Tye government functions of the nation are highly centralized. One of the major archeological sites is the Koguryo tombs complex which is an archaeological site consisting of wall paintings of the Goguryeo period. It gives insight to its culture, everyday way of life, and the various burial customs. There are more than 10,000 tombs that were discovered, but only a few have these magnificent paintings.

5. Description and History -

The Koguryo tombs complex, also known as the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs, is a site situated in North Korea. It comprises of several individual tombs in the Koguryo kingdom which was one of the strongest kingdoms among the three kingdoms that ruled Korea. This site dates back to as early as the 3rd century BC, and the tombs discovered are believed to have been made specifically for the burial of kings and members of the royal family. The site is the first site in the country to be inscribed in the UNESCO world heritage list in July 2004 as a cultural site

4. Cultural and Educational Significance -

The Koguryo tombs complex gives a leeway for the exploration and understanding the rich and diverse culture of the Koreans, and the burial customs for several centuries. In addition to that, the paintings found on the walls of the tombs provide insight into the everyday life during the Goguryeo dynasty and its cultural richness as these masterpieces are unique. Not to mention the unique architecture and the best construction technology used in the building of these various types of tombs like the single-chambered, double-chambered, and multi-chambered.

3. Uniqueness -

The Complex of Goguryeo Tombs are monumental sites that were uniquely, and creatively constructed underground tombs. Stone-chambered earthen mounds were constructed with much skill as the ceiling had to be made to ensure that it could handle heavy weights which could be impacted above. This technology provided a major engineering solution to various problems that had been associated with the construction of tombs underground. The paintings, on the other hand, had been colored strongly with Chinese pigments and ink on the plastered walls of the various burial chambers. The paintings do not focus on a particular subject, but an instead wide range of subjects like the portraits of tomb owners, mythical beings, and supernatural creatures was majorly painted.

2. Natural Surroundings, Sights, and Sounds -

The Koguryo tombs complex, located mainly in the Pyongyang province and other provinces, forms a series of property which is mainly situated at the foot of the mountain and various villages. Conflicts have arisen over the years between the Koreans and Chinese people in a claim that the site belongs to them. According to the Koreans, they claim that the site was as a result of their ancestral kingdom while the Chinese argue that the site is their property as it is part of their history

1. Threats and Conservation Efforts -

The property is under the protection of the Law of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea under the subsection of protection of cultural sites and property which employs qualified staff for its management. The property faces a major threat of destruction due to natural factors like humidity, harmful bacteria, and adverse weather conditions. Various conservation efforts like purchase and installation of monitoring systems and sensors for both temperature and humidity could be of major help in controlling the interior of the tombs. Long term strategies for the preservation of the property have been laid down; this will help in avoidance of destruction of property like flaking off of paint and corrosion of the structures.


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