Namdaemun Gate, one of South Korea's most cherished architectural treasures, was destroyed in a fire that began on Sunday night. The 610-year-old landmark was the oldest wooden structure in Seoul. Namdaemun Gate was the southern gate of an ancient city wall built in 1395, during the Joseon Dynasty. The South Korean police have arrested a 69-year-old man who has confessed to setting the Namdaemun Gate on fire. The suspect has a history of attempted arson, having received a suspended sentence and a fine in 2006 for attempting to set fire to the historic Changgyeong Palace, also in Seoul.
It's estimated that it will cost $21 million and three years of work to rebuild the structure, although local architects suspect the damage to the wooden parts of the gate are too extensive for restoration. (MR)