Man Admits Setting Seoul Fire
Destruction of 600-year-old monument called 'Korean 9/11'
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2008 9:01 AM CST
South Korea's No. 1 national treasure Namdaemun break down as firefighters extinguish a fire in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 11, 2008.(AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A 69-year-old man confessed last night to setting the fire that destroyed Seoul's most famous landmark, the 14th-century South Gate.  As South Koreans vented anger and disbelief, calling the loss "the Korean equivalent of 9/11," the arsonist apologized "to my children and the public." Disgruntled over a land dispute, the AP reports, the man used paint thinner and a disposable lighter to torch the wooden structure.

According to police, he picked the landmark because it was easily accessible, protected only by motion sensors at night. Angry citizens flooded the culture ministry's website with accusations of negligence, and newspapers expressed shame and revulsion. "The disaster in Seoul didn't pose any threat to their lives," said one psychiatrist. "But they psychologically felt the equivalent of feelings the American had in the wake of the 9/11 attacks."