This article brought back the incident of the February 10, 2008 Namdaemun or Sungnyemun Arson. More than half a year has gone by, and I still can’t believe that this arson happened to the Namdaemun gate. This whole incident feels very surreal. Even when I heard the news back in February, I was in a state of a dream-like shock at how someone would do such a thing to Korea’s National Treasure #1.
Couple weeks after the fire, I was with my best friend. We rode a bus from Myeong-dong back to my place. The bus, #143, has a route that goes around Namdaemun. We were on it, and when it first went past the area where the gate should have been, we didn’t see it. I grew confused. I was wondering how it was possible to miss seeing something big like that. But then bus turned around to head back to where we first came from. That was when we saw just what threw me off for a loop. They had one of those gigantic construction walls around the gate, preventing us from seeing the burnt down gate.
Let’s just say it unnerved me and my best friend. Even now, I am affected by it, and I frankly don’t want to go see Namdaemun any more, with its construction walls and its damaged roof. What I can say, though, is that when the gate is fully rebuilt and opened for the public to see again, I won’t take that historical structure for granted ever again. In the past, every time I went past it, I turned a blind eye to it, but now I realise just how much of an impact such a structure can have on its people and the country. I just hope I am here in 2013 or whenever they finish the project so I can see the new Namdaemun. And I seriously hope they have better security around that thing to prevent another act of vandalism.
Namdaemun in 1904. It sure looked different back then.
The fire and the aftermath. Horrible.
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