The Korea Herald


[Eye Plus] Digging for answers

Young archaeologist shares joy of searching for clues into unknown past


By Park Han-na

Published : Oct. 8, 2022 - 16:01

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Photos by Lee Sang-sub Photos by Lee Sang-sub

Chi Hye-seol was crouching down inside a pit 1 meter deep. With her face covered in dirt and one hand holding a "homi," a Korean hand plow, she was carefully digging.

“I am looking for clues into the past that are deeply asleep under this dust,” said Chi, a senior student majoring in convergence archaeology at Korea National University of Cultural Heritage.

When The Korea Herald met her on Sept. 30, she was working on an excavation at Hongsan-myeon, Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province. The site is thought to have been a garden pond for a government office during the Joseon era (1392-1910).

Convergence archaeology is an academic discipline that seeks to explain and understand the past from a broader perspective that encompasses not just history, but fine arts, natural science and others.

Korea National University of Cultural Heritage is a special college affiliated with the state-run Cultural Heritage Administration. The four-year school’s goal is to preserve the country’s traditional culture and foster experts tied to cultural assets.

Photos by Lee Sang-sub Photos by Lee Sang-sub

When asked to speak more about her major, Chi said with a disarming smile, “There are plenty of chances to do fieldwork.”

Excavation work may sound like a fun activity, but in reality, it is tedious, physically challenging labor, she said.

“We are greatly affected by the weather because we have to come out here regardless of the weather, be it rain or sun, hot or cold,” she said. “It’s hard, of course, but imagine when you unearth some relics through excavation. It’s all worth it.”

As she learns more and more about archaeology, she realizes that there are still myriad questions waiting to be answered, Chi continued.

“I hope one day I become a person who presents one possible answer to any of those questions,” she said.

Photos by Lee Sang-sub

Written by Lee Sang-sub and Park Han-na