Septuagenarian is Namdaemun arsonist

Police escort: The suspect (above & below) being taken away by
the authorities

Who would have thought that the Namdaemun fire starter would be an elderly man in his 70s? Well, the man confessed to the authorities that he set the historic landmark ablaze on Sunday night.

Collapsed roof: Flowers left outside the
burnt South Gate

When police raided the man’s home late Monday, they discovered a bag similar to the one describe by witnesses, a bottle of paint thinner and a ladder.

Police apprehended the suspect, whose last name is Chae, on suspicions of setting fire to Namdaemun.

Apparently, Chae has committed arson before (!) when he set ablaze a section of the former royal palace, Changgyeong in April 2006. At that time, the old man was livid about the alleged wrong handling of compensation for his land, which was claimed for a housing development project.

Sad New Year: Koreans are shocked and in
disbelief of what happened

A letter written by Chae was confiscated by police on Monday. Apparently, he set the fire to Korea’s National Treasure No. 1 because he wanted to attract attention to the unsettled compensation for his land.

The landmark, officially called Sungnyemun, or “gate of revering decorum” was the southern gate of the walls surrounding Seoul during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). It stood tall through the years: from the Japanese invasions in the 16th century to the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Restoration needed: The roof is gone, but the walls are still
standing strong

Today, because of an old man’s dissatisfaction with the system, all that’s left of the nation’s historic landmark is rubble.

Source & Pics credit: Digital Chosunilbo & The Korea Times, & Yonhap News

Korea’s National Treasure No. 1 destroyed by fire

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