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Island Cultures of Korea Background Image

Island Cultures of Korea

There are 3,677 islands in Korea, and the importance of these islands and the symbolism of national territory has been sufficiently recognized by the public through Dokdo. Until today, we had forgotten the unique history and culture of islands in Korea, and had considered islands only as places of inconvenience and inferior culture. As marine transportation and suspension bridge projects are being conducted without enough investigation and research on the cultural heritages of islands, the unique natural environment and its tangible and intangible cultural heritages are disappearing. In 2007, the institute began to comprehensively investigate and research marine history, marine cultural history, marine folklore, archaeological remains, life histories, traditional ships, traditional homes, etc. based on islands in order to reveal the origins of our disappearing marine culture, and to preserve and pass it on to the next generation. Starting with the investigation in Manjaedo in 2007, a total of 14 islands were investigated, up to the investigation of Goido, and a total 12 reports were published. Additionally, the content of the research was produced in a video documentary which was screened for inhabitants of the area. From 2019 to the first half of 2020, investigation was conducted on Wido, and from 2020, investigation is being conducted in Wonsando.
Investigated Area

Sinan-gun, Jeollanam-do

Manjaedo, Heuksan-myeon


Uido, Docho-myeon


Soochido, Anjwa-myeon / Sachido, Bigeum-myeon


Okdo, Haui-myeon


Byeongpungdo, Jeungdo-myeon


Damuldo, Heuksan-myeon


Jaewondo, Imja-myeon


Banwoldo/Bakjido, Anjwa-myeon


Gageodo, Heuksan-myeon


Goido, Aphae-myeon


Yeonggwang-gun, Jeollanam-do

Anmado, Nagwol-myeon


Wando-gun, Jeollanam-do

Yeoseodo, Cheongsan-myeon


Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do Wido



Boryeong-si Chungcheongnam-do

Wonsando, Ocheon-myeon

Institute investigation

Tongyeong-si, Gyeongsangnam-do

Nodaedo/Dumido, Yokji-myeon

Conditions of Island Cultural Heritage Investigation

The island cultural heritage investigation began in full-swing after the Manjaedo investigation in 2007, when the Maritime Heritage Research Division was established during the organizational expansion of the National Research Institute of Maritime Cultural Heritage. In 1993-2002, before the organizational expansion, there was a "Traditional Ship and Fishers Folklore Investigation" in the regions of Nagwoldo in Yeonggwang-gun, Gageodo Island in Sinan-gun, Jeju-do Island, Ganghwado in Gwanghwa-gun, Gwanmaedo in Jindo-gun , Chujado in Jeju-si, Ulleungdo in Ulleung-gun, etc.. The results of those investigations provided important data for conducting further research.

Investigation Methods of Island Cultural Heritage

Various cultural remains such as archaeological material, tangible and intangible folk material, traditional architecture, etc. exist in islands. Through investigation of the lives of the islanders, the daily patterns of people that adapt to the seaside life can be understood. If an island research is planned, the first thing to identify is the ebb and flow of the tides. The livelihood of people living on islands follows the time of the tides, and greatly impacts the direction of the study. Also, the name of the island contains its history. For the investigation of island cultural heritage, document research and preliminary investigation are conducted for designating a target for investigation. Using the results from the preliminary research, a research group is created through an advisory conference with professionals. Once the research target is designated, field survey is then conducted. Before conducting field survey of island cultural heritages, an briefing session is to be held for the residents of the island. The briefing session creates a sense of fellowship and closeness with the residents and contributes to smooth investigation. Fostering a sense of fellowship and bond with the residents of the island is extremely important. Especially in the areas of folk and life histories, which rely on oral statements, the outcome of the investigation literally depends on the degree of closeness with the residents. The field study is conducted by dividing the investigation period into 4 phases in accordance with the season and tides to include in video the daily patterns of the residents’ livelihoods and the changing natural environment more accurately.

  • Clam Collection image

    Wonsando, Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do

    Clam Collection

  • Investigation of Place Name image

    Wonsando, Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do

    Investigation of Place Name

  • Briefing Session for Local Residents image

    Wido, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do

    Briefing Session for Local Residents

  • Naewonam Hermitage image

    Jeollabuk-do, Buan-gun, Wido

    Naewonam Hermitage

  • Interview with Commentator image

    Wonsando, Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do

    Interview with Commentator

  • Marsh Work at Jin-ri image

    Wido, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do

    Marsh Work at Jin-ri

  • Photo of Researchers image

    Wido, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do

    Photo of Researchers

  • Interview with Chief Fisherman image

    Sikdo, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do

    Interview with Chief Fisherman

  • Interview with Village Foreman image

    Sikdo, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do

    Interview with Village Foreman

  • Interview with Residents of Jeonmak-ri image

    Wido, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do

    Interview with Residents of Jeonmak-ri

  • Photo of Researchers image

    Wangdeungdo, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do

    Photo of Researchers

  • Investigation of Headstone image

    Wangdeungdo, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do

    Investigation of Headstone

  • Investigation of the Conservation Condition of Muninsang Statue image

    Wido, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do

    Investigation of the Conservation Condition of Muninsang Statue

  • Temple shrine image

    Wido, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do

    Temple shrine

  • Ttibaennori image

    Wido, Buan-gun, Jeollabuk-do


Achievements of island cultural heritage investigation

The institute is recording the history and culture of islands by producing a video documentary and an investigation report based on the research that we conduct each year. A comprehensive academic investigation for small islands provided an opportunity to further understand maritime culture through the discovery of new archaeological and historical sites and the information from the inhabitants of the island.

Opening the Investigation Results of of Island Cultural Heritage

The content of island cultural heritage investigation is shared with the public, and various programs are conducted in connection to provide opportunities for local residents to participate. An example of one of these opportunities is local seminars. Additionally, a video documentary on the maritime cultural heritages of the investigated islands is produced and screened for the local residents, and a photo exhibition is held using the photos from the investigation.

  • Photo Exhibition: Sea, Island, and People image


    Photo Exhibition: Sea, Island, and People

  • Photo Exhibition: Sea, Island, and People image


    Photo Exhibition: Sea, Island, and People

  • Photo Exhibition at Gageodo image


    Photo Exhibition at Gageodo

  • Documentary Screening at Gageodo image


    Documentary Screening at Gageodo

  • Photo Exhibition at Goido image


    Photo Exhibition at Goido

  • Documentary Screening at Goido image


    Documentary Screening at Goido

  • Administrative Office Maritime Heritage Research Division

  • Contact 061-270-2090