April 30, 2013 11:37
The Sungnyemun or South Gate, which burned to the ground in an arson attack in February 2008, will finally reopen to the public on Saturday after more than five years of restoration.
The Cultural Heritage Administration will hold a ceremony on the day to celebrate the restoration of the historic gate, which is listed as Korea's National Treasure No. 1.
The CHA unveiled the gate to the media on Monday and told reporters that it tried to reuse as many original parts as possible that were relatively unscathed by the fire. The restoration cost W24.5 billion and took the work of 35,000 people.
Traditional woodworkers, stonemasons, blacksmiths and other skilled craftsmen authorized by the government were put to work under the leadership of master carpenter Shin Eung-soo (71).
A total of 26 tons of pinewood, 23,369 clay roof tiles and more than 37,000 iron ornaments went into the restoration.
The project was a restoration rather than a reconstruction, since the fire did not completely destroy the gate. The stone base and upper story were mostly intact, while more than 60,000 original wooden pieces could be reused.
The CHA said it would keep the Sungnyemun listed as National Treasure No. 1. "Although it suffered an arson attack, its historic value was not damaged," it said.
To prevent arson, sprinklers, smoke detectors and CCTVs have now been installed and a security booth has been built.
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