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Namdaemun Gate, South Korea


Namdaemun Gate in South Korea was completed in 1398.  It was the oldest wooden structure in Seoul.  In 1962 it had been given the status of “National Treasure No.1″ for South Korea.

On 10 February 2008, an arsonist, using only an aluminum ladder, three 1.5 liter bottles of paint thinner, and two cigarette lighters started a fire that eventually resulted in collapse of this valuable piece of cultural heritage.  Over 360 firefighters responded to the fire.  It took 3 years and US$21 million to repair it.

The burden of guilt weighs heavily on our shoulders as we let one of Korea’s most precious cultural properties turn into a heap of ashes,“ read an editorial in the leading Dong-a Ilbo newspaper.

Contributing Factors

  • Arson
  • Limited security
  • Significant combustible materials
  • No detection
  • No automatic suppression

Fire: February 10, 2008

Namdaemun Gate Fire


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