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Subjects: Korea


Name Minh Chung
tel: +44 (0)1865 280432


In March 2012, the Bodleian Libraries were offered the project “Window on Korea” by the National Library of Korea.  The project will provide the Bodleian Libraries up to 4000 volumes in the first year (2012) and 200 volumes per year during the next five years (2013 – 2017).  In addition, the National Library of Korea also provides funding to help creating a Korean library with audio/visual room at the basement of the Oriental Institute Library.  It offers the opportunity to expand the collection as well as bringing all necessary Korean materials (reference, newspapers, teaching, audio visual and research materials) into one location at the Oriental Institute where Korean courses are taught.  The open ceremony was held on 21st June 2013.  Please see article in the Publication section below.


MOU signing to extend the WOK project for another five years

MOU signing on 1st March 2018 between Director General Kim of the National Library of Korea and the Bodleian Librarian Richard Ovenden to extend the WOK project for another five years (2018 - 2022)


Korean treasures : rare books, manuscripts and artefacts in the Bodleian libraries and museums of Oxford University, Vol. 2.

Available in the Korean Studies Library and the Bodleian Libraries.

Korean treasures : rare books, manuscripts and artefacts in the Bodleian libraries and museums of Oxford University.

Available in the Korean Studies Library and the Bodleian Libraries.


The following articles are published by the National Library of Korea:

Trends in Overseas Korean Studies Libraries, Number 9 (June 2013), p.81-82 & p.173-175; Number 7 (June 2012), p.47-64 &
Number 8 (December 2012) p.111-115, respectively.

Collection overview


The Korean language collection started in the late 19th century and was built up in the 20th century.  Previous Keepers of Oriental Books, such as Mr. Adrian Roberts and Ms. Lesley Forbes, began acquiring Korean books and supported the collection even before the University had degree programmes in Korean subjects. The Bodleian collection has been steadily growing in size and coverage into the 21st century.  In 1990 it numbered 2,860 titles (approximately 5,000 volumes).  It expanded to about 6,000 titles by 2000 and has now well in excess of 15,000 titles (approximately 35,000 volumes). In addition there are about 15,000 volumes in western languages as well as over 400 journal titles.  Among the earliest accessions, a group of bibles translated into Hangul by John Ross, donated by Rev Solomon Ceasar Malan in 1885.  Other significant donations came into the library sporadically between 1896 and 1930 from Bishop Mark Trollope, who first went to Korea in 1890, include two manuscripts, one of which is a painted procession of the funeral of King Yŏngjo (英祖1694–1776), along with a collection of sixteen to nineteenth century printed Korean texts.

Generally speaking the collection has focused on the humanities, including Korean classical and modern literature and pre-modern history, but materials relating to the study of modern Korea are increasingly acquired. A particular strength is modern local histories of provinces and major Korean cities, including places in North Korea. Histories of important banking institutions, corporations and companies as well as family records and genealogies are also acquired as well as Japanese publications relating to Korean studies.

Much of the collection has been built up by active solicitation of donations, particularly of publications not commercially available, for example local histories and Korean university journals. Material published in North Korea is sparsely represented, but the collection contains a fair number of works relating to the history, governance and economy of North Korea published in Seoul and elsewhere.  The most recent notable acquisition is from Monsignor Richard Rutt. This gift is a large donation, which arrived at the library in October 2008. It is composed of about 2,000 items. The collection is the larger part of Rutt’s personal library and offers an impressive scholar’s collection.  Other significant gifts include the gift of an important collection of recently published books and reproduced manuscripts (112 titles in 400 volumes) from the Kyujanggak Royal Library, presented by Dr Lee Jang-Moo, President of Seoul National University in 2009.

More information is available on special collections relating to Korea.



Libraries & Reading Rooms

Much of the Korean material including works in Japanese is primarily held offsite and modern volumes may be ordered to most Bodleian Reading Rooms.

Material on Korea required for teaching purposes is kept at the Korean Studies Library, Oriental Institute.  Those relating to Korean art and archaeology are housed in the Eastern Art collection at the Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library.  Korean manuscripts and antiquarian printed books are housed in the Weston Library.

Western and Korean language works are catalogued on SOLO provides original script internet access to sources in Korean as well as western languages.


Important eResources

  • OxLIP+
  • Oxford University e-Journals
  • <한국고전번역원> Hanguk kojon ponyokwon - Institute For the Translation of Korean Classic.  Translations into modern Korean of classic Korean books originally written in Chinese.  The producers are the highest calibre translators in South Korea and an agency underneath the Ministry of Education.
  • Korean Wisdom - an online exhibit of six collections from the National Library of Korea's digitized holdings.
  • Naver News Library is a full-text Korean newspaper article database containing the following four major newspapers:
  • Dbpia  - The integrated database includes 1,996 of Korean scholarly journals with about 2 million articles in full text.Journal titles are divided into eleven topical categories: society, literature, economics and business, medical science, humanities, theology, law and administration, arts, engineering, natural science, and education
  • KRpia  - The Korean language database covers 600 publications in such fields as literature, economics, business, theology, law, administration, arts, engineering and natural science.It is a primary source reference database divided into ten topics and one hundred forty subcategories and includes special dictionaries, archival and historical resources, biographical sources, and other reference materials related to Korean history, literature, civilization and medicine.
  • KISS (Koreanstudies Information service system) - Full-text Database of Korean Studies Information (KSI) of over 5000 Korean academic journals, covering a wide range of subjects in the arts and humanities, social sciences, sciences, engineering and medicine
  • KSI e-book : Book and e-book of KSI (Online Access) - Korean Studies Information Co., Ltd. engages in the digital printing, and e-journal DB services and publishing businesses in South Korea
  • NK Pro: : NK Pro is an independent news, information and data platform that concentrates uniquely on North Korea. NK Pro features daily news, high level analysis, opinions and interviews from a range of scholars, diplomats, experts and North Korean defectors. NK Pro also contains a suite of unique research tools and proprietary databases that allow users to access information on the DPRK, reduce research time and expand their knowledge of the country's historical and current affairs

  • Chosun Ilbo Archive (1920- )  

    One of the major newspapers in South Korea, available in PDF format. Coverage: from 1920.02.17 (the first issue) to current issue Chosun Ilbo which comes out today is also available on the same day (updated after 6 pm) Search by keyword, journalist, date, section, etc. More than 3.9 million articles

  • International Network of Korean Studies Librarian (INKSLIB)



For more e-resources, please see Korean Studies subject category in OxLIP+


Literature Translation Institute of Korea - established to promote Korean literature and culture. Free e-books of English translations of early and mid twentieth century Korean short stories can be accessed at their websites below:

Main | Digital Library of Korean Literature(LTI Korea)