North and South Korea Join Forces to Excavate Ancient Palace

Pictured above: A replica of the Manwoldae. (Photo via


by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

North and South Korean archeologists have joined forces to research and excavate Manwoldae Palace, an ancient royal palace built during the Koryo dynasty in the 10th century.

Manwoldae is considered to be one of the most significant historical sites in Korea, as it once served as the home of Koryo rulers for more than 400 years. The palace was burned to the ground in 1361 during the Red Turban Rebellion, a Han Chinese uprising that overthrew the China’s then-ruling Yuan dynasty.

On June 2, South Korean researchers traveled to Kaesong, North Korea to begin the excavation, hoping that the project will raise awareness of the common history shared between the two Koreas, according to The Guardian. About 80 South Korean archeologists and researchers are expected to work in Kaesong for the next six months.

“It is the first time since the division [in 1945] that Southern and Northern members have worked at the same place for 40 to 60 days per year. There were wars of nerves between South and North scholars due to differences in methodologies, but we were in a same boat on the achievement of this excavation,” the project statement reads.

The project initially began in 2007, but was discontinued after the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2011.

About 80 South Korean historians and archeologists are expected to work in Kaesong, the capital of Korea from 935 to 1392, for the next six months. During the current phase of the project, the inter-Korean team will focus on excavating Manryeong-jeon, the king’s palace bedroom.

Manwoldae was designated as a Unesco World Heritage site in 2013. The organization described the palace as the embodiment of the political, cultural, philosophical and spiritual values of the Korean peninsula as it “transitioned from Buddhist to Confucian philosophy.”


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