Bridging the Fragment of History with the Future

NRICH Person of the Year

Director of the Conservation Science Division
SHIN Jiyoung

Revealing History Through the Lens of Conservation Science

Conservation science covers a wide range of fields, including conserving and restoring cultural heritage, tracing ancient living cultures, and contributing to their future value. SHIN Jiyoung, who heads the Conservation Science Division of the NRICH under the Cultural Heritage Administration, is dedicated to finding fragments of history from the perspective of conservation science.

We combine cultural heritage with cutting-edge science and technology to uncover the production techniques, provenance, palaeodiet, palaeoenvironment and genetic information of various materials such as stone, metal, earthenware and bone. Reconstructing the lifestyles of ancient peoples brings immense fulfillment to us.

Notably, Director Shin laid the groundwork for dating cultural heritage by introducing an accelerator mass spectrometer1) for radiocarbon dating2) as part of the inauguration of the NRICH Analytical Science Center in 2021, ushering in a new era in conservation science.

1) Accelerator mass spectrometer: A highly sensitive research instru- ment that measures the amounts of different isotopes in a sample
2) Radiocarbon dating: A method to date organic materials using radio- carbon isotope, such as bones, wood, and textiles
3) ICCROM(International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property): An intergovernmental organi- zation working in service to its Member States to promote the conservation of all forms of cultural heritage in every region of the world

For a Sustainable Future of Cultural Heritage Conservation Beyond Korea and Around the World

Director Shin’s commitment to conserving and restoring cultural heritage reaches far beyond Korea. Led by her, the Conservation Science Division is deeply engaged in numerous international collaborative research projects and exchanges. This involves partnerships with institutions like the Institute of Archaeology at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and collaborative efforts with Cambodia’s Angkor Conservation Office to utilize Korea’s non-destructive analysis technology to conserve and restore Khmer stone cultural heritage in Cambodia. In June, Director Shin received encouraging news. ICCROM3) and the National Institute of Cultural Heritage have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen cooperation in the conservation of cultural and natural heritage.

We are set to enhance our partnership with ICCROM to ensure a sustainable future for cultural heritage conservation worldwide. Our commitment involves strengthening collaborations with nations worldwide to address the challenges of cultural heritage conservation. Through these efforts, we aim to contribute to the continued transmission of our cultural heritage to future generations.

As a researcher dedicated to uncovering the history of cultural heritage and communicating its value through studies in conservation and restoration, Director Shin’s unwavering passion and dynamic efforts will continue in the days to come.