Japan's plunder of Korea's metal types
Jikji (Direct Teachings, Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings) is the world's oldest extant book printed with movable metal type during the Koryo Dynasty in 1377. (Photo Wikipedia)


The Korean nation was the first in the world to invent and use metal types, contributing to the global printing development.

But, the Japanese invaders recklessly plundered those metal types, a product of the Korean nation's creative wisdom and talents, during their invasion of Korea in 1592-1598. That's why this invasion was recorded in history partly as a "printing-type war".

During the war, they looted more than 200 000 metal types from Korea. Not a few looted types are preserved at printing firms in Japan still now.

With those metal types, Japan had developed its printing industry. It has been known that these metal types were used when "Tonguibogam", one of the three famous Koryo medical classics of Korea, was published in Japan for the first time. And many books were printed with Korean metal types at Buddhist temples and private units.

A scholar of Japan insisted that though the war was regrettable, it helped bring about a printing "revolution" in Japanese society.

Anyhow, the "printing-type war" made the printing industry in Korea suspend for decades.

Japan's plunder of Korea's metal types in the past is an unpardonable crime intended to obliterate the culture of the Korean nation.

(KCNA - December 11, 2019)