The Full Wiki

More info on 2008 Namdaemun fire

2008 Namdaemun fire: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aftermath of the Namdaemun fire.

The 2008 Namdaemun fire was a fire set by Korean citizen and arsonist Chae Jong-gi (Hangul: 채종기) that occurred on the Namdaemun, the most historically significant gate in Seoul, South Korea, and the first of Korea's National Treasures, on the date of February 10, 2008. The fire caused severe damage to the structure.


The fire

Fire rages on the roof of Namdaemun.

At approximately 8:50 p.m. on Sunday, February 10, 2008, a fire broke out and severely damaged the wooden structure at the top of the gate. By late Sunday night, firefighters said they believed that they had contained the fire. Firefighters were instructed by officials not to be aggressive in fighting the fire out of fear that the structure would be damaged by the effort itself.[1]

The fire roared out of control again after midnight and destroyed the structure, despite the effort of more than 360 firefighters.[2][3] There were no injuries reported.[4]

The fire itself was set when Chae Jong-gi arrived at Namdaemun around 8:35 p.m. on Sunday carrying an aluminum ladder, three 1.5 liter bottles of paint thinner, and two cigarette lighters. He climbed up the western wall of the gate with the ladder, used the ladder to enter the tower, and walked up to the second floor. Chae sprinkled the floor with the paint thinner and lit the fire.[5]


The cause was originally suspected as accidental; however, many witnesses reported seeing a suspicious man shortly before the fire, and two disposable lighters were found where the fire was believed to have started.[2]

A 69-year-old man identified as Chae Jong-gi was arrested on suspicion of arson and then later confessed to the crime 30 minutes after his arrest.[6][7][8] A police captain reported that Mr. Chae sprayed paint thinner on the floor of the structure and then set fire to it.[9] Police say that Mr. Chae was upset about not having been paid in full for land he had sold to developers.[7] The same man had been charged with setting a fire at Changgyeong Palace in Seoul in 2006.[10]

The reason that he targeted Namdaemun was because it was easily accessible and had just one security measure, namely motion sensor detectors.[11] He also considered attacking trains or buses, but decided not to due to the high casualties that would follow.[12]


Koreans mourn the loss of Namdaemun, which had been designated as National Monument No. 1.

South Korean newspapers blamed the government for not enacting stronger security measures.[13]

The Cultural Heritage Administration of South Korea said that it would take three years and $21 million to rebuild and restore the historic gate.[14] 182 pages of blueprints for the gate were made in 2006 as a contingency against any emergencies which may damage the structure, making reconstruction possible.[15]

President Lee Myung-bak proposed starting a private donation campaign to finance the restoration of the structure.[16] Many people felt that the government should pay for the restoration because it had failed to adequately protect the structure.[17] Lee's transitional committee clarified the president-elect's comments by saying that the government should still pay for the majority of the restoration.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Koreans mourn fall of Namdaemun, national treasure No.1". Yonhap News. 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2008-02-14.  
  2. ^ a b Kwok, Vivian Wai-yin (2008-02-11). "Korea's Historic Namdaemun Gate Toppled By Fire". Forbes.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Fire ravages South Korea landmark". BBC News. 2008-02-11. Retrieved 2008-02-11.  
  5. ^ "Gate was ‘easy to approach and poorly guarded’". JoongAng Daily. 2008-02-13. Retrieved 2008-03-18.  
  6. ^ "Man 'confesses to S Korea blaze'". BBC News. 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-02-13.  
  7. ^ a b Kim Tae-jong (2008-12-12). "Suspect Admits Arson on Namdaemun". Korea Times.  
  8. ^ "Man 'Arsonist Blames President Roh'". Korea Times. 2008-02-14.  
  9. ^ "SKorea arsonist in Namdaemun fire had grudge over land dispute: police". Agence France-Presse (Google). 2008-02-12.  
  10. ^ Hyung-Jin Kim (2008-02-11). "Fire destroys South Korean landmark". Associated Press (Yahoo! News). Retrieved 2008-02-11.  
  11. ^ "Suspect held after blaze guts South Korean landmark". London: The Times. 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-02-13.  
  12. ^ "Namdaemun Arson Suspect Confesses". The Chosun Ilbo. 2008-02-13. Retrieved 2008-02-13.  
  13. ^ "Arrest In Burning Of S. Korean Landmark". CBS News. 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2008-02-13.  
  14. ^ Choe Sang-Hun (2008-02-12). "South Korean Gate Destroyed in Fire". The New York Times.  
  15. ^ Chung Ah-young (2008-02-11). "Three Years Needed for Restoration". Korea Times.  
  16. ^ Kim Yon-se (2008-02-12). "Donation for Gate Restoration Proposed". Korea Times.  
  17. ^ a b Shin Hae-in (2008-02-13). "Controversy erupts over fundraising for historic gate". Yonhap News. Retrieved 2008-02-13.  

External links

Coordinates: 37°33′35″N 126°58′31″E / 37.55972°N 126.97528°E / 37.55972; 126.97528



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address