Seoul’s Kansong Art Museum has announced a plan to turn Hunminjeongeum, a book documenting the principles of the Korean alphabet — a national treasure in South Korea — into a limited edition of 100 non-fungible tokens that will be sold for around US$87,000 each.

Fast facts

  • On July 22, the Kansong Art and Culture Foundation announced on its website the issuance of Hunminjeongeum NFTs. “The purpose is to preserve [Hunminjeongeum] permanently as a digital asset and to raise funds for the operation of the museum,” it said. The Kansong Art Museum has been experiencing financial difficulties and last year put two ancient statues of Buddha up for auction.
  • Hunminjeongeum is the original documentation of the first written Korean alphabet, invented by King Sejong of the Joseon Dynasty in 1446. The Cultural Heritage Administration of South Korea plans to examine whether there is any possibility of damage during the digital filming process needed to create the NFTs.
  • Local news reports said the museum’s decision was controversial, and that many people had said it was inappropriate to commercialize a treasure that represented the essence of Korea.