Monday, February 11, 2008

Korea's #1 national treasure burns

Fire has destroyed one of Seoul's most famous landmarks on Sunday night when flames engulfed Namdaemun or South Gate, the nation's No. #1 national treasure. The destruction of a six-century-old national treasure is being blamed on the misjudgment of firefighters and inept attempts to bring the fire under control at the initial stage. At 10:30 p.m., firefighters believed they had extinguished the flames, but it rekindled on the second floor and engulfed the gate.

A taxi driver said he saw a man entering Namdaemun with a bag in his hand while waiting for a fare. Several minutes later, a fire broke out on the second floor of the gate. Namdaemun had survived several wars including the Japanese invasion in 1592 and the Manchurian invasion of Korea in 1636. Now, due to a suspected attack by a lone arsonists, one of the oldest remaining wooden structures in Seoul is no more.