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Heritage Classification

Korea has a beautiful nature and a wealth of priceless cultural heritage as befits its five thousand year history and traditional culture.

Korea’s cultural heritage includes tangible and intangible cultural heritage, monuments and folklore cultural materials of historic, artistic, academic and scenic value as national, ethnic or world heritage formulated artificially or naturally.

Throughout the years, Korea has cultivated its own unique cultural heritage in which the emotions and culture of its people are ingrained. Its cultural heritage also has an array of attributes ranging from artistic sensibility to scientific sense.

The Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) is continuing to provide people with more opportunities to appreciate the value of its cultural heritage and to make every effort to preserve its precious cultural heritage which is not only the quintessence of human culture and nature but also the source of life.


The State-designated Heritage refers to the heritage designated by the Administrator of the Cultural Heritage Administration pursuant to the Cultural Heritage Protection Act after deliberation by the Cultural Heritage Committee. The State-designated Heritage is divided into seven categories of the following:

National Treasure Heritage of a rare and significant value in terms of human culture and with an equivalent value to "Treasure" described below
Treasure Tangible cultural heritage of important value, such as historic architecture, ancient books and documents, paintings, sculpture, handicraft, archeological materials and armory
Historic Site Places and facilities of great historic and academic values that are specially commemorable (e.g., prehistoric sites, fortresses, ancient tombs, kiln sites, dolmens, temple sites and shell mounds)
Scenic Site Places of natural beauty with great historic, artistic or scenic values, which feature distinctive uniqueness and rarity originated from their formation processes
Natural Monument Animals, plants, minerals, caves, geological features, biological products and special natural phenomena, carrying great historic, cultural, scientific, aesthetic or academic values, through which the history of a nation or the secrets to the creation of the earth can be identified or revealed
National Intangible Cultural Heritage Intangible cultural heritage, such as drama, music, dance and craftsmanship, carrying great historic, artistic or academic values
National Folklore Cultural Heritage Clothing, implements and houses used for daily life and businesses, transportation and communications, entertainment and social life, and religious or annual events, that are highly valuable for the understanding of the transition in people's lifestyles and more

Among the non-state designated heritages, those in need of preservation are designated as City- or Province-designated Heritage by the mayor and the governor respectively, based on the municipal or provincial regulations, and they are divided into four categories of the following:

Tangible Cultural Heritage Tangible cultural products of great historic and artistic values, such as buildings, classical records and books, ancient documents, paintings, sculpture and handicraft; and archeological materials corresponding thereto
Intangible Cultural Heritage Intangible cultural products of great historic and artistic values, such as drama, music, dance and craftsmanship
Monument Historic site of great historic or academic values, such as shell mounds, ancient tombs, fortress sites, palace sites and relic sites; scenic sites of great artistic or aesthetic values; and animals (including habitats, breeding places and resting places), plants (including natural growing sites), minerals and caves of great academic values
Folklore Heritage Clothing, implements and houses used for daily life, religious or annual events and so on, that are indispensable for the understanding of the transition in people's lifestyles and more

Among the heritages that are not designated as State-, City- or Province-designated heritages, those significant for the regional culture and thus in need of preservation are designated as the "Cultural Heritage Material" in accordance with municipal or provincial regulations.


The Registered Cultural Heritage refers to architectural structures or monumental facilities of early modern or modern times, that have significant values and thus need to be preserved.

Cultural Heritage of Early Modern Times Architectural structures and facilities constructed during the time from the late 19th century to the mid 1940s: cultural heritages from the later period can be included in this category if they are highly valuable and on the verge of destruction or deterioration

The Undesignated Cultural Heritage refers to the cultural heritage that needs to be preserved even though it is not designated as State-, City- or Province-designated Heritage.

General Movable Cultural Heritage (Article 76, Cultural Heritage Protection Act) Movable cultural heritage, such as ancient documents and books, wood blocks, paintings, sculpture, handicraft and archaeological and folklore materials, that is not designated by the state or the city/provincial government but needs to be preserved due to its historic or artistic value, and thus whose export is prohibited in accordance with the relevant regulations
Buried Cultural Heritage (Article 43, the same Act as above) Valuable cultural heritages concealed under the ground, in the sea and so on