(ATTN: ADDS archbishop's message in last 3 paras)
SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea voiced regret Tuesday over the massive fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and announced plans to conduct emergency inspections of local cultural assets.
The flames damaged the 12th-century cathedral, located in the heart of Paris, the previous day, sending a shock wave across the world.
"On behalf of the South Korean government, the Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) expresses deep regret for the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral," the agency said in a press release. "South Korea has nearly suffered a loss of precious cultural property due to the fire at Sungnyemun Gate."
In 2008, the wooden portion of the gate, designated as a National Treasure of South Korea, was damaged by arson, with restoration work completed five years later.
CHA said it asked provincial governments to check fire protection systems at wooden buildings and other cultural assets. On-site inspections of palaces, tombs and temples that are directly managed by CHA are also under way.
It said it will maintain the situation room that has been operated since the forest fire that engulfed the east coastal region of Gangwon Province earlier this month and strengthen monitoring to check for any possible incidents.
Meanwhile, the South Korean Catholic circle offered words of consolation to the French community and promised solidarity with the people of France.
"I have been in shock and deep grief since I heard the news about the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral last night," Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung said in a message. "We share the pain and grief of Catholics in France and people in Paris."
He said the Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Seoul will pray for those who are fighting the disaster and for the full restoration of the great treasure of the world.
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