KOREA: N. Korean media reports Namdaemun fire

The Korean Central Broadcasting Station's report about the collapse of the historic Namdaemun gates was picked up in Seoul

The Korea Herald
Wednesday, February 13, 2007

North Korea's state-controlled media reported Tuesday about the fire that gutted Seoul's historic Namdaemun gate, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The report carried by the (North) Korean Central Broadcasting Station said a fire broke out on the two-tiered wooden roof of the structure on Sunday. It said despite efforts by firefighters, most of the the 610-year-old landmark collapsed early the next day.

The station's broadcast, picked up in Seoul, showed photos of the flame and smoke engulfing the gate and the aftermath of the failed attempt to control the fire, which was caused by arson. It said Namdaemun, built in 1398, is a source of pride and a valuable cultural legacy for all Koreans.

The gate officially called Sungnyemun, or "gate that reveres decorum," is the oldest wooden structure in the South Korean capital and one of four main gates that surrounded the walled city during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

Experts said that while most of the upper part of the wood-and-tile structure was lost, many beams in the first floor were intact along with the large stone-wall foundation that includes the actual arched portal of the gate.

The rebuilding of the gate that was designated as National Treasure No. 1 is expected to take 3-5 years and cost around 20 billion won ($21.1 million).