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Restoration of ancient Seoul gate begins two years after destruction

All Headlines 14:19 February 10, 2010

By Kim Nam-hee

SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) - Restoration work on an ancient gate in Seoul, designated the country's number one national treasure, began in earnest on Wednesday, two years after it was destroyed in an arson attack.

The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea held an on-site groundbreaking ceremony marking the start of restoration work on Sungnyemun, one of the country's oldest wooden structures, and the second anniversary of the gate's destruction.

Yi Kun-moo, head of the heritage administration, and Rep. Chung Byeong-heon were present at the ceremony, alongside master artisans brought in to work on the project, including carpenter Shin Eung-soo, and individuals who donated pine trees for the reconstruction.

"We've wrapped up preparatory work to restore the gate to its original shape, and its reconstruction begins today," said Yi.

"Sungnyemun is taking its first step to heal the wounds from the fire two years ago through today's ceremony," he added.

The 14th-century wooden structure sat atop a stone base and served as the southern entrance to the capital city during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). In recent years the edifice found itself at the center of a large intersection surrounded by skyscrapers on one side and the crowded Namdaemun market on the other.

The gate was set ablaze in Feb. 2008 by a 70-year-old man angered by a land compensation deal with developers.

The gate restoration project is to be completed by the end of 2012.

kimnh@yna.co.kr
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