July 02, 2010 12:51
The restored Gwanghwamun, the main gate to Gyeongbok Palace in central Seoul, will be unveiled on Aug. 15, after years of work.
The Cultural Heritage Administration on Thursday said on Liberation Day, which marks the centennial of the annexation of Korea by Japan, the restored Gwanghwamun will open to the public with a ceremony to unveil the signboard. The restoration has been underway since December 2006 under the CHA's supervision.
The CHA is going to remove the scaffolding and screen that have covered the palace gate during its face-lift Monday and in late July hang up the new signboard with calligraphy restored to that of the time of the palace's repair in 1865. Built in 1395, the gate went through a long history of destruction, rebuilding and relocation until the current project restored it at the original site.
The gate was originally scheduled to be opened late this year, but when Seoul was chosen as the host city of the G20 summit in November, the schedule was moved up to late September and later by another two months.
Critics worry the haste could lead to shoddy work. According to the original blueprint, rooftiles were supposed to be laid on the roof of the palace walls connected to the gate before the quicklime dries, and bush clovers or millet stalks were to be laid crosswise over the rafters of an auxiliary facility. But they have now been replaced with lengthwise wooden boards to save time, critics claim.
But master carpenter Shin Eung-soo, who is in charge of the restoration, said, "It's impossible to lay rooftiles before the quicklime dries." He said the boards are sturdier than the thatch, so the team decided to use boards, which were at any rate more common in royal palaces.
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