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Metal types of Korea encountered through classics

Metal types are produced by pouring various molten metallic materials into molds for type printing. Type printing was first attempted during the Goryeo Dynasty by carving each letter in wood or metal, or by pouring molten metal into mold. Thereafter, the metal typography during the Joseon Dynasty independently achieved brilliant advancements to an unprecedented level in the world.

A diverse range of metal type printed books held at the National Library of Korea will be examined to discern the transitions and advancements of typographic cultures during Goryeo and Joseon Dynasties.

Metal type during Goryeo Dynasty

Although it is known that metal type printing was first introduced in Korea since the era of Goryeo Dynasty through the records found in various literatures written at the time, there are only very few actual copies of metal types of the Goryeo Dynasty such as [Nammyeongcheonhwasangsongjeungdoga] and [Sangjeongyemum], etc. still remaining intact until today. [Baek-unh-wa-sang-cho-rok-bul-jo-jik-ji-sim-che-yo-jeol], which is better known as Jikji, is the oldest copy of metal type still remaining and passed down in the world. Footsteps of metal type technology of the Goryeo Dynasty are examined through the reprint copies and photographic prints of the metal type printings held at the National Library of Korea.

Metal types during the Joseon Dynasty

Since the establishment of Jujaso by King Taejong in 1403, there are a total of 35 types of metal types included in the type pedigree until the end of the Joseon Dynasty, which illustrate brilliant advancements achieved independently during the Joseon Dynasty to an unprecedented level in the world. Visitors can encounter the appearance of a diverse range of ancient types through the copies of metal types of Joseon Dynasty held at the National Library of Korea.

Lectures on ancient literatures

Significance of the phrase, ‘Korea, the country that invented metal types’, and Jikji, a Memory of the World, from the perspective of cultural history of mankind, is examined.