MAY  2000  [ Vol. 9, No. 3 ] Home | Contact Us | Korean | KF Home   

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Fellow Essay

Digital Database for Korean Classical Works

Lee Min-jung
Deputy Manager, Nurimedia Content Development Team
The 21st century will be an age of cultural clashes. As the world becomes ever more closely linked through the Internet, the culture of any one country no longer belongs to that country alone, but rather has the potential to spread throughout the world. In the reality of today's world, if a society fails to preserve and develop its cultural legacies, then it will in all likelihood fall prey to cultural imperialism. Therefore, it is the mission of the current generation to record information about Korea's cultural assets in digital format and promote the richness of the country's culture around the world.
Nurimedia is a venture enterprise with a dream of creating the definitive Korean studies database. In the four years since its foundation, the company has already published in digital form a number of Korean classical literary works, including Koryosa(History of Koryo), Parhaesa(History of Parhae), Tripitaka Koreana (Koryo Buddhist Cannon), Samguk sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), Samguk yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), Tongguk isangkukjip(Collected Works of Minister Yi of Korea), and most recently Jeungbo munhon-bigo(Reference to the Old Books, Enlarged with Supplements), thus establishing its niche as a specialist in the building of Korean studies databases.

On the surface, the process of digitalization may seem to be a simple task. However, there are numerous difficulties that must be overcome when dealing with a project like Koryosa, a massive work of over 70,000 manuscript pages containing many Chinese characters no longer in use-something that caused many problems in terms of program development. The task of putting information about Korea? traditional culture into digital format so that people around the world are able to appreciate its excellence is something that cannot be done for the purpose of realizing easy profit. It must be approached from a long-term perspective and pursued with professionalism and a sense of mission. It is Nurimedia's dream to overcome these obstacles and create a digital database of Korean classical literature that can be easily and conveniently accessed by as many people as possible.

Korean Studies Webbook Series
The foundation of Korean studies begins with classical historical texts, but works such as Samguk sagi, Samguk yusa, and Koryosa are so voluminous and filled with unwieldly Chinese characters that even specialists find them hard to understand. These problems are all solved by Nurimedia's database web service (http://www. provided on CD-ROM.

The original texts are transcribed into easy-to-understand Korean and come with detailed footnotes and a searchable index. A search function is the basis of any database of academic material, and users can input any keyword to access information from the main text. To satisfy the demands of the Internet age, searches can be freely carried out not only on CD-ROM but also on the Internet.
For researchers, searching for relevant information and transcribing it by hand onto cards is inefficient and laborious. But with a computer database, necessary information can be found in a vast pool of resources by simply typing in a keyword.

Nurimedia's mission to digitalize Korean academic material is intended to ensure that Korea? precious cultural legacy, currently all but ignored, is easy to access not only for current users but also those of the future. Nurimedia hopes the availability of this material for Korean studies will facilitate the publication of even more research material, and to this end the company plans to expand its database by adding an even wider and more diverse range of classical Korean texts.

Academic Information Database Service DBPIA
DBPIA, or Database Periodical Information Academic, is a web-based academic database that enables searching and reading of information in original texts. This service has been in operation since April in cooperation with Korea's largest bookseller, Kyobo Bookstore. DBPIA plans to provide a comprehensive database service ( of all Korean academic material in the future.

Bookrail, the search program used for DBPIA, was developed by Nurimedia based solely on local technology. It is a stable and proven program that has been distributed to some 60 institutions in Korea over the past four years. Because the academic periodicals database service is web-based, users can easily access the latest information anytime, anywhere. Also, the core of the digital database, its search engine, is divided into search by index, advanced search, and search by directory. By choosing a field of study from the search menu and then making a selection from the table of contents in the database, users can access a wide range of articles and original texts. The DBPIA organizes fields of study into ten groups-the humanities, language, society, economics and management, administration and law, education, natural sciences, engineering, theology, and medicine. These groups cover some 140 publications, including the journals of 23 research institutes, 103 academic journals, and 14 periodicals.
To enable users to access this material, libraries must have vast storage space, but a digital library overcomes the barriers of space and time to allow easier use and storage of information.

Currently, some 50 domestic institutions utilize DBPIA, including the university of Seoul, Yonsei, Hanyang, Kyunghee, Chung-Ang, and Konkuk universities.

Nurimedia? achievements in creating digital databases were recognized by the presidential office of Chong Wa Dae last November when it was selected to develop a government historiography system for information regarding the activities of the president. As a result, the records of the country's government leaders can now be accessed via the Internet as well.

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