|2nd floor of the Sungnyemun Pavilion collapsed with its rooftop while the 1st floor is remain unharmed. The reconstruction occurred on the 2nd floor and its rooftop. Sungnyemun walls were extended too, based on its blueprint in 1900s.|
|Hayate: Oh Sungnyemun! Is this your cruel fate after all? Sniff.|
The 2008 Namdaemun fire, a fire set by Korean arsonist Chae Jong-gi (Hangul: 채종기), severely damaged the Namdaemun, one of the most historically significant gates in Seoul, South Korea, and the first of Korea's National Treasures, on February 10, 2008.
At approximately 8:50 pm on Sunday, February 10, 2008, a fire broke out and severely damaged the wooden structure at the top of the gate. By late Sunday night, firefighters said they believed that they had contained the fire. Firefighters were instructed by officials not to be aggressive in fighting the fire out of fear that the structure would be damaged by the effort itself. After midnight, the fire got out of control and destroyed the structure, despite the efforts of more than 360 firefighters. No injuries were reported.
The fire was set by Chae Jong-gi, who came to Namdaemun around 8:35 pm on Sunday carrying an aluminum ladder, three 1.5 liter bottles of paint thinner, and two cigarette lighters. With the ladder, he climbed the western wall of the gate, used the ladder to enter the tower, and walked up to the second floor. Chae sprinkled the floor with the paint thinner, thus starting the conflagration.
Originally, the fire was suspected to be accidental. However, many witnesses reported seeing a suspicious man shortly before the fire, and two disposable lighters were found where the fire was believed to have started. A 69-year-old man identified as Chae Jong-gi was arrested on suspicion of arson and confessed to the crime 30 minutes after his arrest. A police captain reported that Mr. Chae sprayed paint thinner on the floor of the building and then set it on fire. Police say that Mr. Chae was upset about not having been paid in full for land he had sold to developers. The same man had been charged with setting a fire at Changgyeong Palace in Seoul in 2006.
The reason he targeted Namdaemun was because it was easily accessible and was only secured by motion sensor detectors. He also considered attacking trains or buses, but decided not to due to the high number of casualties this would cause.
South Korean newspapers blamed the government for failing to provide more security. The Cultural Heritage Administration of South Korea stated that it would take three years and $21 million to rebuild and restore the historic gate. In 2006, 182 pages of blueprints of the gate had been made as a contingency measure against possible damages, making reconstruction possible.
President Lee Myung-bak proposed starting a private donation campaign to finance the restoration of the gate. Many people felt that the government should pay for the restoration because it had failed to adequately protect the structure. Lee's transitional committee clarified the president-elect's comments by stating that the government would pay for the majority of the restoration.
The Cultural Heritage Administration of South Korea said that it would undertake a three-year project that would cost an estimated 20 billion won (approximately USD14 million) to rebuild and restore the historic gate. President Lee Myung-bak proposed starting a private donation campaign to finance the restoration of the structure.
By January 2010, 70% of the pavilion gate, the first floor and 80 percent of the fortress wall has been completed. Work on the roof began in April after the completion of the wooden second floor, with 22,000 roof tiles produced in a traditional kiln in Buyeo County (also known as Sabi, the capital of Baekje Dynasty), Southern Chungcheong Province. The wall and basic frame are scheduled to be finished in April and May respectively. The pillars and rafters are to be elaborately decorated, with the ornamental patterns and colors based on those used in the large-scale repair in 1963, which was closest to the early-Chosun original.
In January 2013, it was estimated by an official that restoration of the gate would be completed around May 5th, 2013.
Footage from youtube
Footage from youtube