10.04.2017 - Culture Sector

Korea returns smuggled dinosaur fossils to Mongolia

The International Cooperation Centre, part of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office of the Republic of Korea, has returned 11 dinosaur fossils that were smuggled into the country from Mongolia. According to the prosecution, the fossils include those of Tarbosaurus Bataar, a large carnivorous dinosaur whose remains are found only in Mongolia. The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office held a ceremony on April 7th to return the fossils, which were illegally brought into the country in 2014.  As an expression of gratitude, the Mongolian government has decided to lease certain dinosaur fossils, which constitute Mongolian cultural property, to the Republic of Korea to promote the relationship between Korea and Mongolia.

The return of the fossils to Mongolia marks the first time that the Korean Government has returned stolen foreign cultural property to the owner country at government level, and is seen as an opportunity to further enhance Korea’s reputation as a country that protects cultural heritage. The Korean Cultural Heritage Administration will report the case to the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP) as an example of best practice in cultural property repatriation.

The Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office has announced it will take further action to lead efforts to protect cultural heritage by establishing a Cultural Property Repatriation Consultative Body in cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Administration, the police and other relevant organizations.

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