Asian Journal of Paleopathology Vol.2, 1–8, 2018
Received: December 27, 2017
Accepted: January 21, 2018
DOI: 10.32247/ajp2018.2.1

From excavation site to reburial ground: a standard protocol and related ethics of mummy studies in South Korea

Chang Seok Oh, Jong Ha Hong, Jun Bum Park, Won-Joon Lee, Raffaella Bianucci, Dario Piombino-Mascali, Dong Hoon Shin

 In South Korean paleopathology, there is a high academic value on the study of mummies from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910 CE). However, the study of these mummies can sometimes result in unexpected reactions from both academia and the public, mainly due to ethical concerns. To address this problem, over the past decade a research protocol and checklist have been developed that actively consider both ethics and efficiency. We focused on the importance of rapport between the researchers and the descendants of the mummified Joseon individuals. The descendants were notified about the progress of the research in briefing sessions periodically held by us. Paying homage to the mummified dead by appropriate religious rituals is another important way to demonstrate sympathy with the family’s feelings. We also discussed sensitive ethical issues caused by securing human samples without consent from the Joseon mummies themselves. To overcome the legally unstable status of Korean mummy studies, we attempted to receive a series of permits from related agencies and institutes including a formal consent from the descendants, the permit for the archaeological excavation from governmental agencies, and the permit from the institutional review board. Since ethical concerns are a universal subject in paleopathological studies of mummies, our experience in creating a legal platform for researchers in South Korea could be useful as a reference for future work.

Key words
Paleopathology, Joseon dynasty, mummy, protocol, ethics, institutional review board