A trove of Korean antiquities worth millions of dollars has been seized in San Diego.
The antiquities, nine seals dating to the Korean Empire and Joseon Dynasty, were in the possession of the family of a deceased Marine lieutenant who had served in the Korean War, according to a statement from the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Customs authorities say they first learned about the seals in September, when a man from Escondido contacted a Washington-based antiquities expert to find out whether the seals were valuable. Agents worked with their counterparts in Korea to determine that the seals dated back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897) and the Korean Empire (1897-1910).
According to the Korean National Property Act, the seals fall under the category of Korean national property, which is illegal to transfer or export.
Customs agents seized the seals Monday. They said the lieutenant had told his family he had discovered the antiquities in 1950 in a ditch near Seoul's Deoksugung Palace, which had just been ransacked by Chinese and North Korean soldiers.
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