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Introduction

The National Institute of Korean History (NIKH) - an institution better known among Koreans as “The National History Compilation Committee” - is a governmental agency of the Republic of Korea, the principal function of which is to collect, compile, and publish historical data relevant to research on Korean history. As a branch of the Ministry of Education, it also takes charge of such subsidiary functions as supervising the compilation of history textbooks, conducting the nationally administered Korean History Proficiency Test, and supporting research projects and conferences relevant to the study of Korean history initiated by individual scholars and professional academic societies.

Since its inception in March 1946, the NIKH has published more than 1,600 sourcebooks, including The Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty, The Collection of Documents on the Korean Provisional Government, and The Historical Materials Pertaining to the Republic of Korea. It has collected numerous documents and rare books of high historiographical value and made them available to the scholarly communities interested in Korean history. It published a 25-volume set of Korean History covering the whole range of Korean history from antiquity to the establishment of the Republic of Korea by utilizing fresh research results of historians and archaeologists in the 1970s. (A revised and enlarged version of this set amounting to 52 volumes was published in the 1990s.) In line with this kind of effort, in 2000 it issued a 40-volume Korean Cultural History, which deals with the traditional culture and everyday life of the Korean people with rich illustrations. The NIKH has digitalized the massive amount of information on Korean history into a database and offers it online. The digitalized items include such pre-modern archives as The Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty, The Daily Records of Royal Secretariat [of the Joseon Dynasty], and The Documents of the Border Defense Council [of the Joseon Dynasty], plus a variety of modern source materials, e.g., newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets. The NIKH’s “Historynet” webpage provides access to up-to-date information regarding academic activities of Korean historians as well as historical facts to the general public.

The NIKH has been searching for and collecting Korea-related historical materials from the national archives of the United States, Japan, China and Russia. Currently, it is engaged in an ambitious project of translating into English The Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty, one of Korea's national treasures listed in the UNESCO's Memory of the World. In addition to the above-mentioned activities, the NIKH operates a museum exhibiting the historical materials it preserves, and sponsors short and long-term educational programs for elementary and high school teachers of Korean history as well as government officials above Rank 5.

I appreciate your constant interest in this institution and will look forward to collaborating with you in promoting studies on Korean history in the future.


Cho Kwang, Ph.D.
President, the National Institute of Korean History