Fire Destroys Seoul Landmark

610-year-old national treasure reduced to rubble
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 11, 2008 3:10 AM CST
South Korea's No. 1 national treasure Namdaemun breaks down as firefighters extinguish a fire in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 11, 2008. About 80 firefighters were fighting to bring the blaze under...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A cherished South Korean landmark has been destroyed in a arsonist's fire, reports Reuters. A 610-year-old Seoul structure known as Namdaemun, or "Great South Gate," and regarded as the country's top national treasure collapsed after burning for hours last night. Police are searching for a man who they believed broke into the wood-and-stone structure to torch the landmark.

The arch, also known as the "Gate of Exalted Ceremonies," was built in 1398 and was the main southern entrance for Seoul when it was a walled city. "From what we can see, except for the pillars on the first floor, the gate has been completely burned down," said an official.