Excellence and authenticity: ‘Living National (Human) Treasures’ in Japan and Korea

This contribution first reviews the Japanese system for the protection of the intangible cultural heritage (ICH), notably how the system of ‘Living National Treasures’ and the protection of ‘Folk Cultural Properties’ have been implemented in the country. It then goes on to describe the Korean system which seems similar but in fact is different in its objectives and approaches. The paper then refers to UNESCO’s efforts to promote a ‘Living Human Treasures’ system worldwide. Finally, it questions whether the official recognition of selected expressions of the intangible cultural heritage is a universally suitable measure to ensure the global safeguarding of ICH and notably of folk cultural expressions.


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