S. Korea rebuilds Namdaemun: National Treasure Number One
South Korea has unveiled its cultural gem ‘Namdaemun’ gate after completing works of its restoration. Namdaemun which is also known as country’s National Treasure Number One, was destroyed to ashes in 2008 in an arson attack.
What is the importance of Namdaemun for S. Korea?
‘Namdaemun’ is 600-year old pagoda-style gate which was first built in the last year of King Taejo of Joseon’s dynasty in 1398, and rebuilt in 1447, during the 29th year of King Sejong the Great of Joseon’s reign. The gate which is officially known as the Sungnyemun (literally Gate of Exalted Ceremonies), is one of the Eight Gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul, which surrounded the city in the Joseon Dynasty. It was once one of the three major gateways through Seoul’s city walls which had a stone circuit of 18.2 kilometres (11.3 mi) and stood up to 6.1 metres (20 ft) high.
What happened to the gate in 2008?
‘Namdaemun’ was set afire by an arsonist who was disgruntled over receiving insufficient compensation following the expropriation of his land as part of an apartment-building project in Seoul’s north-western satellite city of Koyang, as claimed by him. In this tragedy, the gate was severely damaged. The whole restoration took 5-year time and cost S. Korea 27-billion-won ($24.4 million).
What is a Pagoda?
Pagoda is an architectural style of building tiered towers (multi-storied) which can be of stone, brick, or wood. Its origin can be traced to Indian ‘Stupa’ which is a dome shaped monument, was used as a commemorative monument associated with storing sacred relics. In has strong links with Buddhist practice in which this form came to be considered as an appropriate repository for sacred relics, and it spread across East and Southeast Asia. This kind of towers are common in Nepal, India, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Burma and other parts of Asia.