South Korea Turning World’s Oldest Book of Movable Metal Print into 3D Data for Cultural Celebration

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[Image: KBS World Radio]

I remember the amazement I felt when, three years ago, I got to see the Latin translation of the Gutenberg Bible, known as the Vulgate, on display at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Johannes Gutenberg is widely renowned for inventing the movable type printing press in the 1400s, but what I didn’t know is that someone actually beat him to this distinction. The Jikji, or jikji simche yojeol, is a Korean Buddhist document that was printed in movable type in 1377 – roughly 70 years before Gutenberg’s invention.

The Jikji, compiled in the late Goryeo period by the priest Baegun, holds all of the essentials of Zen Buddhism. It was printed in two volumes at Cheongju’s Heungdeoksa Temple, and while the first is missing, the second stays at the National Library of France; the Early Printing Museum in Cheongju, Korea also keeps a photographic version of the work.

In 2001, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) certified that the Jikji is the actual oldest book of movable metal print in the world, and added it to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, which is obviously a source of great pride for the country. In fact, some historians even believe that Korea’s movable metal type was actually being used two centuries before other nations started.

[Image: Boonchai Waleetorncheepsawat via YouTube]

This fall, the Jikji Korea Festival will be held in the birthplace of the Jikji – Cheongju City, within the country’s North Chungcheong Province. During the festival, which has been occurring since 2003, 3D printing will be used to help celebrate the cultural legacy of the book.

The technology is often used to make history accessible to the masses, and shine a light on the past. In 2016, the Korea Culture Information Service Agency (KCISA) entered into an agreement with 3D file sharing platform 3Dupndown to make South Korea’s culture available online in 3D printable form.

This year, the agency chose a program, proposed by the Cheongju/Jikji Korea Organizing Committee, as the winner of its cultural database project. The program will take the photographic edition of the Jikji and turn it into 3D data.

This 3D data will be used during the upcoming Jikji Korea Festival in order to provide spectators with an interactive virtual reality experience of Korean culture. The photographic copy of the Jikji isn’t the only cultural item being made into 3D data – a typeset edition of the book made with wax casting, along with some Goryeo dynasty garments and meal tables, will also be reproduced in a 3D format.

The festival description reads, “In order to spread the knowledge of Jikji around the world, the city of Cheongju has dedicated great efforts over the past years to host festivals and a memorial event for the awarding ceremony. With the support of the government, the two events were combined in 2016 as a single international event, named JIKJI Korea. With the theme ‘Jikji, Enlightening the World,’ various events and exhibitions will allow visitors to learn more about the value of this great acheivement within the exciting festival atmosphere.”

Jikji Korea [Image: Imagine Your Korea]

The festival will be held at the Cheongju Jikji Culture Zone, by the Cheongju Early Printing Museum & Cheongju Arts Center, in September. In addition to a concert, a book garden, and opening and closing ceremonies, the festival will also include educational content and a Jikji experience playground; a pavilion for Jikji media restoration, which I assume refers in part to the virtual reality experience, will also be there.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this story, and other 3D printing topics, at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

[Sources: KBS World Radio, Singapore La]

 

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