French court dismisses S Korean suit to restitute historic texts
SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) — A French court dropped an administrative suit filed by South Korean activists claiming the French government should return the royal texts its troops looted during its invasion more than a century ago, activists in Seoul said Wednesday.
Following the last hearing in early December, the court made an unusually quick decision two weeks ago that the historic texts, although stolen from the French invasion in 1866, are national property preserved in the National Library of France and how they were acquired does not change its status, a civic group Cultural Action said in a statement.
The activists, who filed a suit funded entirely by public donations in 2008, said the dismissal was expected and they are considering an appeal.
“We won’t respond to this shameful decision emotionally. We will find ways to put pressure on the French government while preparing for an appeal,” Hwang Pyung-woo, a cultural property head with the group, told Xinhua.
The rushed decision unveiled right before year-end holidays shows the court wanted to avert criticisms from Seoul, Hwang said.
The French army took away 297 books out of about 1,000 preserved in a royal archive during its invasion into Ganghwa Island during the Jose on Dynasty of Korea (1392-1910).
At a South Korea-France summit in Seoul in 1993, then French President Francois Mitterrand returned one of the 297 books to his South Korean counterpart Kim Young-sam.